‘The Metaverse Isn’t New: We’ve Been Doing it for 20 years’

'The Metaverse Isn't New: We've Been Doing it for 20 years'

The Elder Scrolls Online creative director Matt Firor says the metaverse is nothing new and people should stop pretending it’s an innovation.

According to him, the gamers have been participating in connected virtual worlds for decades. Firor says the current iteration of the metaverse is faltering because people are hesitant to transport their lives into a simulation controlled by a single company, without freedom. Users should regulate such spaces, he argues.

Connected worlds for two decades

In an interview with at the Game Developers Conference, Firor maintained people must stop treating the metaverse as something new as the tech has been there from way back.

“We’ve been doing [connected worlds] for 20 years,” said Firor.

“It’s not new, and they should stop treating it like it’s new and get input from people who have been doing this a while.”

The metaverse concept means a lot of things to different people. It is an emerging 3D-enabled digital space that uses VR, augmented reality, advanced internet, and semiconductor technology. Wikipedia describes it as virtual worlds with users represented by avatars and interact.

About two years ago, Mark Zuckerberg was all about the metaverse that he rebranded his firm, Facebook to Meta to link the brand to this strategic plan.

Also read: US Funds eSports Program to Combat Misinformation

Are social media platforms metaverse?

But Firor described the metaverse simply as virtual worlds or online communities. According to the video game producer, social media platforms deserve to be metaverse by virtue of being online communities

“Metaverse, or what I prefer to call virtual worlds, need to be online communities. There’s no reason why Reddit couldn’t be considered one, it’s a text based virtual one,” he said.

“My earliest games were text-based, with no graphics at all, and they were very much virtual worlds where people got together, chatted, and had fun.”

He added the only thing that could be new are “maybe AR goggles,” but generally the tech to display virtual worlds has existed “for decades now just on monitors, and that’s where the magic is.”

An empty virtual world

Firor also explained how the metaverse failed to resonate with the initial plans it was created for. He cited its emptiness as one reason for the seeming slow progress in metaverse activity, which in the past year was overtaken by generative AI, which burst onto the scene following the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

He added that the metaverse is just a tech discussion in “Silicon Valley” to attract investment and people would not want to participate with nothing to do in that virtual world.

“Absolutely you cannot have a metaverse without something to do inside the metaverse.  That was last year’s buzzword, right? This year it’s all about AI and nobody’s talking about the metaverse anymore,” he said.

Firor is also of the view that people may not be comfortable in full adoption of metaverse because “there is hardly much freedom in a simulation controlled by a single company.” Such places, according to Firor, must be regulated by the users themselves.

The years in gaming

Firor, has been with the Elder Scrolls Online from time it started a decade ago. Asked about his long stint with the game, Firor chronicled how the game in general became a “safe harbor for a lot of people” during the Covid 19 pandemic period when governments implemented lockdowns.

The game reached its peak figures in 2020 and 2021 as people turned to gaming to escape loneliness among other problems.

“We have a community that loves to play the game, and our job is to make sure we’re good stewards for the world they’re playing in,” he said.







Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.