How to understand the metaverse, the social network of the future: the explanation of a Uruguayan

Gonzalo Ordeix, an expert in video games and the metaverse, gives clues about how this world will impact the lives of users

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Gonzalo Ordeix works at Globant, a company that provides technological services to the most important video game companies in the world. At the company, he works on metaverse developments for clients increasingly interested in entering a new and revolutionary world.

In an interview with Cromo , the specialist anticipated how long the concept will take to become popular in Uruguay, how virtual reality will impact and what influence cryptocurrencies will have.

What place does the metaverse have in the world today?
Booming and growing. The first real experiences with the metaverse name are beginning to be made, but focused on what were the experiences that were already being handled, such as Second Life – a video game that allows users to interact through an avatar – and experiences of social interaction within of a virtual context.

What are the concrete examples in which the concept of metaverse fits and in which it does not?
The Sandbox, Decentraland, Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite. Those are all examples of metaverses, regardless of whether they have components of other things.

Why can we call them that way?
Because they are virtual worlds in which people interact. They have their own concept of expression of emotions. They can communicate with others and can perform activities within those metaverses.

What things can’t we call a metaverse?
In general, whenever one thinks of NFTs – a unique digital asset that cannot be supplanted in virtuality – or thinks of a virtual world, one thinks of a metaverse. If there is no interaction between the different participants or it is not dedicated to generating an evolved network, it is not a metaverse. Maybe it could just be a virtual experience or an electronic wallet, or some other concept that may be related, but it’s not a full metaverse.

How is Uruguay adopting this concept and what kind of development is observed?
We are a long way from its peak. We still have a long way to go in cryptocurrencies and blockchain as a general use. Many more people are already encouraging themselves to invest, but we are far from encouraging ourselves to go in that direction. That is what keeps us a little away or slowed down by fear of the new.

Can we think of a metaverse without blockchain or cryptocurrencies?
Probably not. The metaverse is going to monetize in some way and that is going to be closely related to the digitization of payment methods. And in the future it is going to be related to blockchain and crypto.

Does the growth of the metaverse and blockchain have to go more or less in tandem?
Not necessarily, because blockchain is much more advanced than metaverse concepts, but it is something that we are going to need. We are going to need digital contracts, we are going to need digital currency, and really the way we have at the moment of doing it, and what we see in the future, is related to blockchain. Perhaps not the same blockchain that we have today, but something more evolved, but it will be related to the concept.

Is there a confusion regarding the topic of the metaverse and virtual reality? What is the link between both worlds?
It is not that there is a confusion, but that everyone thinks that they are going to get into virtual reality, which is not necessarily the case. But yes, virtual reality is going to tend to be the form of interaction in the future, if we want truly immersive experiences. It generates a much broader degree of immersion and therefore there will be virtual reality experiences in these metaverses. Or new metaverses that are specifically VR, because immersion is one of the foundations of metaverses to get people involved and motivated to be in them.

Who is going to take the lead in all of this? Will there be a great gateway to all the metaverses that may exist?
There are probably a few. The same thing happened with social networks: a lot came up and then the number began to reduce. Today the different social networks are accessed through only one, which is the one that authenticates and generates the hub for the others. The same thing will happen for this. Surely we have a large company that says, “Well, I’m the one that provides the infrastructure for your metaverses.” Who is it going to be? There are several in the lead.

Facebook was born in 2004 and in Uruguay it began to be used massively in 2008 or 2009. The concept of the metaverse began to gain importance last year. Can we think that in five years there will be a widespread use of metaverses in the country?
Within five years it is very likely that we will begin to have metaverses already established. In other words, that we begin to see them as social networks and we can interact in that way. Knowing what a metaverse is, it will take a little longer to generate what refers to virtual reality. More hardware and more technology in general is needed to arrive at any of the concepts behind it. The same thing that the mentality of moving to a digital economy is going to cost, because at the moment everyone many times when they go to save says: “Well, I’m going to put so many dollars in the account” and we are not thinking of investing in crypto or put in digital currencies or make investments in NFTs instead of real estate investments.

What kind of interactions can be seen and will be seen in this new technological concept?
Everything that has to do with the feelings and experiences that lead to an interaction between people will have its equivalent in the metaverse, when the time comes. For now, the ones that make the most sense are the ones where interaction is a bit more limited. Today there are common interactions between the participants: they can chat, put emojis, have little dances. But that will begin to deepen to be able to express more and more things, and from there generate more interaction between people. Anything that makes the participants interact will have its safe equivalent in the metaverse.

Will interactions remain limited for long?
For now, yes. There are default actions, possibly pre-programmed ones, emoticons, and a limited number of expressions. That will have to change, and the more in virtual reality and the more hardware we have to generate interaction, the better it will be. Vests with force feedback (a wearable device that allows, for example, to receive a shot and perceive it as if it were real) or gloves that give you the feeling that you are touching things, that will also help us to have another type of feeling , another type of contact, and you will also have feedback from touching the other person, from being able to have physical contact, which at the moment we do not have.

In a talk they said that a DJ Sanata show could have a place in a metaverse. Can you think of other examples, like a football game?
Yes. For sports it’s great because you’ll be able to buy a box for the NBA and participate in that virtual box with your friends from Uruguay. It is very expensive to travel there and get a box. It will be more accessible because there will be virtual boxes to see everything in virtual reality, you will have your space and the interactions with your friends, which is great and now we don’t have it.

In other words, our link with the metaverse will be more linked to virtual reality than simply finding it on the internet, as is the case with many of them today?
Not necessarily, but there is going to be a greater component because technology is going to evolve and we are going to be able to interact, and it is something that people also need. With the pandemic we needed to communicate with people and we had no way to be with our friends at a barbecue. So, we would get together in a game and have conversations; Directly from there we got together with the excuse of: “Let’s play such a thing”, but in reality what we were doing was chatting and having that meeting that we were not able to have in reality.

Virtual reality glasses generate fatigue if they are used for a long time. Is that going to change in the future?
Surely. The helmets that are being designed are becoming lighter. It is also being thought that the helmet cannot be closed, it cannot be virtual reality, but augmented reality. Then surely you have a helmet (or glasses) that can be more opaque or transparent depending on the circumstances. So maybe you can have a more closed helmet, and more focused on a virtual world, or one more focused on augmenting the reality that you have around you. In this case, you could see 3D elements on the table that you can interact with directly from the helmet.

Who is the metaverse geared towards?
The wisest users are the digital natives. Obviously, the new generations have a much easier time understanding and identifying with a virtual world. Previous generations have more problems to feel identified and be totally useful within that world. Some of the metaverses are focused on interaction, having lots of people interacting within them. Others are more focused on particular niches. For example, people who have more purchasing power will go to a metaverse that is focused on art. It will also be an older audience, because obviously young people will not have the economic capacity to enter those metaverses.