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  • Writer's pictureТимофей Милорадович

A great talk on video games

Updated: Jul 23, 2022


There is this word that you might have heard a lot recently, like right now: metaverse. It's suddenly a huge thing. And while for many people, it causes a lot of excitement, I think it also causes other feelings, like confusion and concern. And I think that's fair.



And I’ve also felt confused. Metaverse is not really a new thing. Many massively multiplayer online games, for example, can be seen as metaverses. And I've certainly also felt concerned, especially when people talk about "the metaverse." That assumes that there's only one owner of the metaverse, and this owner would get far too much power and data. It also risks being exclusive. It might not be accessible for everyone, and will risk to introduce many of the inequities we see in the real world in the metaverse. This was pretty sad to me. So then you might wonder like, why am I here talking about the metaverse? That doesn't make sense.

Well, the thing is, I'm not. I'm here to talk about metaversists and the vision of how they can provide a lot of delight to their communities and even make the real world a better place. And here we can learn a lot from games.

So what is even a metaverse? How do we create a delightful, long-lasting metaverses? And how can metaverses make the real world a better place?

And there are, of course, many answers to these questions, and I cannot give you the answers, but I can give you one answer. If, instead of talking about the metaverse, we talked about thousands or millions of metaverses created by people from all around the world, it would be much more inclusive and less risk of toxic uses. To me, that sounds quite lovely.

What I'm showing you right now are persistent, endless virtual worlds where players can have lots of fun together. They are worlds that connect people. Each of these worlds were made by individuals in Minecraft. By removing and placing their own virtual building blocks, They could create anything they can imagine. And to me, these are creative and delightful examples of metaverses. And I know the power and the beauty of these worlds because I have my own that's more than ten years old.

This is my world. After many years of playing, developing, thinking and even dreaming about Minecraft, I have gained some experience and learnings. Watching our community use the game in so many different ways made me realize how powerful metaverses can be. So I would love to, with these learnings, paint a different picture of what metaverses can be if everyone could craft your own. And I hope it's a creative, fun and inclusive picture.

In Minecraft, this is one example of this. We give the players tools and endless worlds and an infinite amount of building blocks to have fun and tinker with. And with these, the players can craft their own unique metaverses. The metaverses, therefore, belong to the players. They do not belong to us, making the game. And like, ah, it’s so fascinating, because the players are so very, very creative with the metaverses. Some use them to be like, big cities, castles, or like my five-year-old daughter's recent project, an underwater playground for fishes.

And some players are engineers and build the most complex machines. It's very, very impressive. And some prefer to just have a lovely time with their friends. The possibilities are endless, and it's up to each player to set their own goals and decide if they want to create their own metaverse or join someone else's.

And it's easier to be creative and connect with people when you have fun. Fun is important. And what's more fun than games? Within games, we've actually had metaverses for a really long time. Long-lasting games like World of Warcraft or Eve Online could be seen as metaverses. And this doesn't surprise me, because when we humans spend time together, we want to do it in a fun and joyful way. And this is true when we spend time together virtually too. Fun means different things for different individuals. Maybe not all of you want to build fish playgrounds, even though that clearly is very fun. But this is another reason to why there should be many different metaverses. My dream is that there will be a huge and diverse set of metaverses. Having millions of metaverses with different strengths and focuses enables everyone to find virtual places they love, feel welcome in and just can have so much fun in.

We live in a time where almost everything seems to depend on statistics, metrics and diagrams, and we can for sure learn a lot from this. But I feel there is a risk we forget the pure human side, the things that excite us, the things that make us passionate. I don't think Tolkien used metrics and stats when he wrote "Lord of the Rings." He crafted a universe based on passion, vision and delighting his readers. And that’s what metaverse developers shoul do too. We should bring smiles to our place. We should develop features to give this excited, butterfly-in-the-stomach feeling. And I hope this is the case for anyone building metaverses.

But I must confess, I am a bit worried that the main question people will ask when they build future metaverses will be, "How can we profit from this?" That's the wrong question. Instead, we should ask how will our metaverses benefit the users. And of course, I know that money is important in this real world we live in. But the thing is, if players are super happy long-term, that's very likely also related to money. So everyone can be happy. We must focus on taking care of our communities instead of taking from our communities. And that goes hand-in-hand with player trust and thinking long-term. Because if you know that you can trust that your beloved metaverse will be around and be very much alive for a lifetime, you feel safe to spend all this time and all this love on it.

Look at this amazing world. It started as a small family project, and now, ten years later, the family still plays together in this world. I think this is a great example of why you should be able to trust that your metaverse will be around and work very well for a lifetime. It would be devastating for this family if they lost this project they have together and all the dreams they still hope to fulfill in this creative metaverse of theirs. As metaverse developers, we have a responsibility to keep people's memories and dreams safe.

And there's one more thing. The virtual worlds can't reach their full potential on making the real world a better place if they don't represent and include everyone. Also, everyone deserves the joy and inspiration a lovely designed metaverse can give. Therefore, there need to be metaverses available and accessible for everyone. Each person that wants to, I will not force anyone, should be able to craft the metaverse of their dreams independent of their situation in the real world. The in-metaverse economy should not mirror the inequities we see in the real world. And it’s much more delightful and inclusive if the resources in the metaverse are part of a fun and fair game system instead of a system introducing artificial scarcity. We also need a variety of metaverses, including ones that don't require expensive devices.

So when we then have all these, like, beautifully designed metaverses for everyone, I mean, on top of all the joy they will bring, we also get many more opportunities on making the real world a better place. And I have seen so many beautiful examples of how people do that with their metaverses. One that's very dear to me is the dad who created a minecraft server to be a safe and welcoming place for his son and other children on the autism spectrum. This kind of community-created world is a great role model for future metaverses. It's a world that welcomes players that maybe don't always feel welcome in the real world, and it's a world that enables these players to express themselves in their own ways. Family members have witnessed how these amazing children use communication skills they learned in the metaverse in the real world. And metaverses can help charities reach new audiences and make it more fun and easy to participate in charity events. The World of Warcraft community, for example, raised more than one million dollars [for] Doctors Without Borders to be able to make a difference in the global response to COVID-19. In the metaverses, charities can meet people where they are.

And metaverses can help us communicate in a common language, a language of play, creativity and fun. There is an organization called Games for Peace that uses games and their metaverses as a neutral playground to create dialogue, friendships and trust between young people in conflict zones. It wouldn’t even be possible to bring these young people together if not for a metaverse they can meet in.

And metaverses can help amplify voices. Kids in Kosovo used the metaverse to build their dream neighborhood area. By giving the kids millions of virtual building blocks and endless space to build and collaborate in, they could explore and visualize their ideas in a fun and accessible way. Young people aren't typically involved in planning spaces, but this time it was the kids who were the experts. Just imagine all the joy, confidence and creative ideas that leads to. And the very lovely thing here is that their vision was built in the real world. Their ideas from the metaverse became a safe and open meeting area in their neighborhood.

One of the kids summarized the joy and confidence this brought in such a lovely way when she said, "Being heard and listened to is one of the best feelings you can feel." Anytime we can include new voices in processes where they have typically been left out, we shift dynamics, which ultimately builds a better world. If we, in the future, have even more metaverses on different platforms, beautiful examples like these ones can happen even more. I hope and believe that these learnings from the game industry and from the metaverses the communities created truly can help us all make better metaverses in the future. A challenge for all of us that will design and build metaverses is to ensure that we use them for creativity, fun, inclusivity, and ultimately to build a better real world.

Thank you so much.

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