“Metaverse.” It’s the one word that, apparently, drives game execs and investors into a babbling frenzy just seconds before they explode into venture capital that rains down on any studio that wants to make it happen. It’s also enough of a concept – nebulous as it is right now – that GamesBeat created a summit about the whole thing, and one of that summit’s speakers was none other than Raph Koster, who talked about how many of the technical challenges in creating a metaverse were already solved in the past.
“We’ve had online worlds for 44 years, and any vision of the metaverse is built on top of the idea of online worlds, whether you call them online worlds, MUDs, virtual worlds social worlds — it doesn’t matter. […] I’m here to just share some high level lessons, some mistakes that have already been made, in hopes that it saves you from making future mistakes.”
Koster recounted the creation of decentralized online worlds as far back as 1992; his own creation of a virtual version of a real-world mall was in 1994. With that in mind, he reasons that the major hurdles for a metaverse creation are more social than technical; players are not interested in item portability, and the option to take an item from one digital place to another requires a set of standards, which are a “social coordination problem.”
Koster also talks about how a 3-D metaverse isn’t necessarily better and further pointed out how technology alone can’t ultimately solve the problems of governance in a digital universe. However, he appears to be optimistic that game devs can work together to solve many of the social challenges of a metaverse’s creation. So long as they look back at the past.