View all on-demand sessions from the Intelligent Security Summit here.
“The internet isn’t built with a layer of identity” is a classic (and true) refrain, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to continue down the path of ignorance. Using the late Steve Jobs’ hacking of iCloud as an example, it’s clear that none of our digital identities are secure. Then it’s better not to have one? Maybe. However, let’s try just one…
Less is more
Self-sovereignty is quickly becoming one of the major entry points and roadblocks within the metaverse discussion. Currently, the metaverse requires individuals to re-register themselves as they traverse the multiverse. Although a multitude of metaverses would be superfluous in several respects, we are unfortunately already seeing the first indications of this trend. Microsoft, Sony, Nvidia, Meta, Adobe and many other companies have recently come together to create the Metaverse Standards foruma consortium that aims to ensure interoperability.
However, interoperability depends on having a unique digital identity that is universally recognizable, ensuring ease of use, workflow and experience.
“Metanomics” is a term originally coined by Doug Thompson for a talk show he hosted on Second Life, and it must be said that the economic models of the metaverse are often so boring and repetitive that they can easily be summed up with the following guidelines:
- Bet tokens
- Buy some land or NFTs (will be taxed)
- Pay some entrance fees
- Gambling or lotteries
These are all mechanisms that lead to long-term engagement, but with low intensity and impact. So what’s the game changer of the metaverse? The clue is in the previous sentence: let’s talk about gamification.
Users just want to have fun
We are moving towards an all-encompassing virtual world and the dominant design (DD) is driven by the web3 gaming industry, just as cryptocurrencies arose from the need to actualize financial value in in-game currencies. Right now, in GameFi, we are witnessing the painful transition from a play-to-earn model to a play-and-earn model.
This may sound like a simple linguistic trick, but it instead underlies the need to bring the game back to the heart of the conversation. For too long GameFi has been drunk on its own profit-driven vision, at the expense of the fun aspect and the possibilities for users. With the advent of crypto winter, the platform’s games have been subjected to the shrinking space and discontinued, with few exceptions including Axie Infinity And Sandpit.
In addition to GameFi’s losing bet, Axie Infinity itself fell victim to a $600 million hack in November 2021, resulting in the decimation of users, while the native SLP token went from $0.4 to $0.0025.
This clearly disrupted the project’s tokenomics; nevertheless, it held on thanks to a diminished but strong community of 700,000 supporters.
Sandbox, a game reminiscent of Minecraft in some ways, instead has a user base of two million and has one big peculiarity: it takes place in the metaverse.
Gamification of social interactions is a crucial aspect of the metaverse: the only virtual spaces where there is currently a clear concept of ownership are social platforms such as Reddit and NFT marketplaces such as Open sea.
However, these platforms offer a limited experience, as centralization prevents immersion and the ability to switch between metaverses. If these spaces can harness man’s natural propensity for play, spontaneity, and entertainment, they will grow to such a level that the creation of a unified and GameFicated metaverse will be inevitable, corporate vision and interests notwithstanding.
Users of the metaverse will act according to archetypal characteristics likely analogous to those that serve as the basis for social gaming. Dr. Richard Bartle has determined the four types of these archetypes:
- The Achiever, who is goal-oriented and driven by the need to complete the tasks and benchmarks assigned to themselves.
- The Socializer, who sees the metaverse as an opportunity for them to make new friends and network.
- The explorer, who is adventurous and constantly looking for game stimulation and hijinks, especially with regard to unique experiences.
- The Hunter: In order not to betray anyone’s expectations, it will be necessary to decide what and how to make this kind of user hunt.
These archetypes are not mutually exclusive – users often manifest a combination of them, with one predominating over the other. The gamification of social interactions is an important aspect of the metaverse. Platforms like Reddit and NFT marketplaces offer a limited experience due to centralization, but if they could take advantage of humans’ natural desire for play and entertainment, creating a unified and gamified metaverse would be inescapable.
The four archetypes should serve as the basis for building successful token models in the metaverse and determining the game-theoretic model and mechanism design for sustainable economies and governance structures.
The metaverse and a meta-quadratic economy
A gamified economy is a system where economic activity is organized around game-like rules and incentives, with the aim of making economic interactions more engaging and enjoyable for participants. a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) could potentially be used to manage and oversee the rules and incentives of this economy, helping to ensure fairness and transparency for all participants.
The closest real-world “metaverse” instance currently available and functioning within a pseudo-DAO structure is Reddit, more specifically, each r/subReddit. These “subs” are probably the closest metaverse instance actually available, with their ability to boost “moderators” of any reality within the metaverse, giving them more responsibility for maintaining order and discipline.
This is another step towards decentralization of decision-making, where authority is determined by smart contracts, with perhaps even a hint of quadratic economics, a model where the value created by a transaction is proportional to the square of the number of the participant. The value generated by a transaction increases significantly as more people participate, incentivizing individuals and organizations to contribute and participate in the economy.
But why stop at quadratic?
In addition to being able to decide on which issues to give weight to someone’s voice, we might consider better representing the brightest and active members of the community. DAOs can help achieve a sustainable metaverse by providing a decentralized and transparent governance structure for the virtual world, thus ensuring that the metaverse is run in a fair and equitable manner that takes into account the interests of all Attendees.
Such structures can be useful to manage the distribution and allocation of resources within the metaverse, such as virtual land or assets, for a more sustainable and balanced metaeconomy.
Let’s go nuclear!
The metaverse is in some ways the cyber counterpart of nuclear energy: the potential for huge benefits and disasters match. Fortunately, the Web – be it its first, second or third iteration – is by definition a democratic tool: if this imprint is maintained, Orwellian scenarios will certainly not occur.
Let’s scroll through an overview of critical issues that still need to be considered:
- Children: how should we behave about children’s access to the metaverse? Will they take risks like in the real world, or will they be protected directly at the code level? AI could certainly play an important role in this area, perhaps filtering inappropriate behavior in real time, which has yet to be penalized in the most serious cases.
- Health: Too much metaverse will lead to an increase in physical problems we have already experienced, such as obesity and back pain, as well as depression and addiction.
- Inequality: Greater economic wealth will result in more engaging meta-experiences, while poorer people will have to settle for a low-quality experience, but we are talking about an issue that needs to be addressed openly.
- Privacy: It’s already irritating knowing that we’re being profiled based on how and where we move our cursor in relation to certain content, but who wants a metaverse that tracks where we’re looking?
At the moment it is not possible to give a concise and satisfactory definition of the metaverse. Why?
Because the metaverse is a placeholder, a MacGuffin, a proxy. We cannot describe it because we have only fleeting glimpses of it.
What we have to keep in mind is that every nuclear force must always have a core as a point of reference, and in this case it’s us: a new humanism is coming and I wonder if our avatars will also be able to enjoy the renaissance, transcend the limits of our existence.
Eloisa Marchesoni is a Tokenomics engineer.
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