Enter the Metaverse v2021by@abhijoysarkar
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Enter the Metaverse v2021

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The metaverse is quite possibly the future of the internet. To help our readers learn more about it, we've started this metaverse interview series. These are the questions we've compiled to ask experts in blockchain, DAOs, NFTs, and game development. The series is intended for tech professionals to contribute their insights about the current state of the metaverse. Here are Stacks India Chapter Lead Abhijoy Sarkar's thoughts on metaverses.

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Abhijoy Sarkar

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The metaverse is quite possibly the future of the internet. To help our readers learn more about it, we've started this metaverse interview series.


These are the questions we've compiled to ask experts in blockchain, DAOs, NFTs, and game development, within the HackerNoon community. The series is intended for tech professionals to contribute their insights about the current state and the future of the metaverse.


If you too would like to start contributing to Hacker Noon, you can do so here.


If you also want to publish your thoughts about the metaverse, answer the template here.



HackerNoon Interviewer: So let’s start! First, tell us a bit about yourself. For example, name, profession, and personal interests.

Hi, I am Abhijoy Sarkar. In the meatspace, I run a B2B SaaS startup called Regular.li as my day job. At Regular.li, we offer a timekeeping and team management solution for small businesses. In the crypto space, I advise projects and manage communities for Parachute, Hedgey, ParJar, Stacks India, aXpire etc. After procrastinating about getting into crypto for several years, I finally FOMO’ed into it in 2017 and got hooked.


Cryptocurrency and its associated landscape (NFTs, Defi, DAOs, etc.) is continuously evolving and there’s new stuff to learn every day. Anish Agnihotri from Paradigm put it eloquently - being in crypto is like being in a constant state of FOMO. Even a few months back, I didn’t imagine owning a bunch of collectibles. And now I regularly invite friends and family for walkthroughs of my NFT gallery on Cyber. Kind of like my own metaverse.

Please sum up what the metaverse is in 1 to two paragraphs.

Any cyberpunk fan already knows the Neal-Stephenson-Snow-Crash origin story of “metaverse” by heart. Put simply, a metaverse is an extended reality that may or may not resemble the physical world (or meatspace). A shared realm where we spend a lot of our time, energy, and resources - Second Life, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, Etheria, Decentraland, The Sandbox, Crypto Voxels, and so on. I think, in a way, even social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, or Discord can be considered as early drafts of metaverses without the 3D virtual world immersive gameplay.


While the original iterations of metaverses rewarded users with hits of dopamine through likes, points, or other gamified rewards, the latest versions of crypto-native metaverses also give their citizens provable ownership and play-to-earn opportunities on top. So apart from being an immersive experience, they are also tied to financial incentives. In fact, I wrote a bit regarding this in another HackerNoon article about Ready Player One coming to life.


Crypto has turned metaverses into centers of commerce

Crypto has turned metaverses into centers of commerce

Are you currently, directly or indirectly, working on building a metaverse?

Apart from collecting NFTs and adding to my Cyber gallery, I am at the moment also advising an Indian NFT project - Namaste Punks. Namaste Punks is building 3D pfp NFTs on the Stacks blockchain. These NFTs will have an element of interaction, second-generation drops, possible future extensibility into one of the OG “metaverses” mentioned above, and so on. Still early days. If they are able to stick to development timelines, Namaste Punks could offer the first interactive 3D NFT experience on Stacks. It is currently in the BUIDLing stage.

In your opinion, is the metaverse inevitable, or is it just another passing trending tech topic that'll lose hype?

If we look back, metaverses were always around. They existed in various shapes and forms which are different from the ones we are acquainted with now. It’s just that they were not referred to by this name before. Plus, because of limited elements of commerce in them, they were considered as hobbies or categorized as niche internet subcultures. Metaverses were not mainstream before.


As these alternate realities start to become finance-able and users begin to resemble citizens (this will become pronounced once governing DAOs get more powerful), people are sitting up and taking notice. For example, in the Philippines, Axie Infinity has become a career choice for a lot of people. Imagine dedicating multiple hours of a day to breed, trade and battle virtual pets in an alternate universe and earning a living out of it. The Axie Infinity metaverse is the new reality for many.


Facebook has already revealed plans to rebrand because of their focus on building a metaverse. Twitter recently announced an upcoming feature that will allow its users to set their owned NFTs as verified profile pictures on the platform. Reddit working on an NFT platform is also public news by now. When mega-corporations publicly commit their resources like this, there is very little chance that these parallel worlds are going away easily.


Your circle of friends will start to look like this (source: https://twitter.com/punk6529/status/1450071143780597763)

Your circle of friends will start to look like this (source: https://twitter.com/punk6529/status/1450071143780597763)

Why is the metaverse such a revolutionary concept?

The metaverse as a concept is not novel anymore. But the promise of permissionless, decentralised realms is revolutionary. Legacy metaverses (Web2 platforms) rely heavily on counterparty trust and users have to hope that the platform devs/owners act in good faith. Vitalik Buterin spoke about how his prized WoW character got nerfed (rendered useless) one day without his consent which made him realize “what horrors centralized services can bring”. Events like these have been catalysts for the birth of Web3 metaverses built on the rails of public blockchains like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Stacks, Tezos, Solana etc. Web3 is essentially crypto-friendly and thereby trustless by this association i.e. no need to trust a counterparty for the system to work.


What can people build in the metaverse that we can't build on the Internet, or in virtual reality today? What limitations of our current technology does the metaverse free us from?

From an audio-visual experience and UX point-of-view, Web2 metaverses are pretty amazing already. Think Roblox, Sims, Second Life etc. However, these exist as silos and are permissioned. Your identity, access, and in-game assets in any of these realms are not owned by you and they cannot be ported onto another realm.


In comparison, Web3 metaverses do not usually seek personal information to let users in. Instead of email IDs, they use wallet addresses for identities. By getting read-access to your wallet, these platforms can also additionally check for specific tokens in it (Eg. an ENS token like abhijoysarkar.eth which can act as a portable identity) to recognize you. Since you always carry your wallet around, you also carry an identity by default. This makes Web3 seamless. Plus, you get to own the collectibles and assets in the form of NFT’s in your wallet in Web3.


However, this portability is still restricted by chains. So, someone’s identity (pseudonymous or real) and assets on one blockchain do not reflect automatically on another chain. While some may argue that EVM chains like Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, Fantom etc. share the same address and smart contract schema to solve this, it still leaves out other major chains. I think cross-chain portability will happen as metaverses grow. Something like the OASIS of Ready Player One where many universes collide into a common shared space. For example, there’s an NFT project called Satoshibles that is working on a migration scheme to become freely movable between Ethereum and Stacks (and by that association, Bitcoin too). So, you can probably own the same pfp on multiple chains (without the risk of double spending, of course). More of these bridging projects will happen over time.

(left to right) Satoshibles #1208 on Stacks and Ethereum respectively

(left to right) Satoshibles #1208 on Stacks and Ethereum respectively

How are the metaverse and blockchain related? Can we build a metaverse without blockchain technology?

As we have discussed earlier as well, there are metaverses already that don’t need a blockchain. But to have an online realm where the end users can claim provable ownership, have universal identities, and take part in governance, a public blockchain comes in. These chains by nature of having a native cryptocurrency, also add commerce to metaverses by default. And thus, they make these virtual worlds purposeful by aligning with financial incentives of end-users. Otherwise, users could end up being at the mercy of decision-making by a small group of individuals whose goals may not match with those of the users. For example, Valve’s recent unilateral decision to ban all cryptocurrencies and NFTs from Steam left games like Age of Rust in the lurch.


How quickly do you think the metaverse will be developed? How much can we expect metaverse tech to grow in the next 5 to 10 years?

Blockchain-based metaverses like Decentraland and Crypto Voxels are already developed and flourishing. The Decentraland Discord server, for example, is quite active with regular community-hosted events. Maybe in a couple of years or so, these metaverses could have inter-chain portability. Some of these platforms or their governing DAOs, however, may not opt to go the multi-chain way for some time.

Walking to The Metaverse Festival in Decentraland to watch Dana Immanuel & The Stolen Band perform

Walking to The Metaverse Festival in Decentraland to watch Dana Immanuel & The Stolen Band perform

Another biggie that could happen in 5-10 years is the hosting of the actual infrastructure and assets in a decentralised way. Trustless realms need decentralised storage. When it comes to just cryptocurrencies, public blockchains can function as ledgers storing a record of balances or unspent transactions (UTXOs) on them. With smart contracts, they can store the code as well. But when it comes to more complex and larger file systems, it becomes difficult to be hosted entirely on-chain. Blocks have limited spaces and adding overheads will slow down those chains. If you look at the token URI of many popular NFTs, you will see that the files are actually stored in centralised places like AWS. Some projects have started to use Arweave and IPFS, but it will take some time (maybe 5 years?) for decentralised hosting to gain traction.


What is your hope for the metaverse? Do you have any worries or does the concept pose any threats?

I hope the multi-chain metaverse becomes a reality soon. There are cool things being built on various chains. It would be a shame if they remained as walled gardens in their own ecosystems. A multiverse of these metaverses would be an amazing achievement.


Also, unlike many other online hangout locations, the various metaverse communities have been able to foster a non-toxic culture. The metaverse-speak is full of positive lingo such as GM, WAGMI and Fren. A new positive culture has been memed into existence by these communities with minimal toxicity of social media seeping in so far. I hope it stays this way.


Thanks for your time! Any final words?

Watch this space! See you in the metaverse, fren.


This article is part of The Gaming Metaverse Writing Contest hosted by HackerNoon in partnership with The Sandbox.


Submit your #gaming-metaverse story today for your chance to win up to $2000.

Abhijoy Sarkar HackerNoon profile picture
by Abhijoy Sarkar @abhijoysarkar.Runs Regular.li, TheCryptoUncle | Mods Parachute, Hedgey, ParJar, Gem | Advises NamastePunks | Leads StacksIndia
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