Editor’s Note: The following story was written by Neomi, an author from China with experience covering art, music, culture, tech, and travel. To capture the excitement of being a pioneer in this new world, Bitcoin.com News sent Neomi to the field blockchain-based metaverse experience.
Decentraland Day One: A Hat is What I Need
When I first entered Decentraland, I was looking to relax so I made my avatar. A bald man with black glasses and a suit. Ten other people looked almost exactly the same as me within ten minutes. We probably had another thing in common, too — none of us could afford to buy a proper hat. I heard that NFTs were being invested in the metaverse by a lot of people, but was too scared to look at the actual prices. Suffice to say, I found out that things are expensive — even hats.
My goal was to be different than the other bald metaverse men by grinding for assets. In a world where people were all mining meteors to get gems, I found myself in that game. In the beginning, I didn’t understand why people stood motionless as if their internet was dead, but then I realized they were doing the exact same mining activity as I was. Others floated high above the ground as they climbed onto their meteors. This is something that the other players can’t see. It was designed to make the experience welcoming and inclusive, so every player could have their own meteor. A mining field without this would have been a war zone where players would fight each other with pickaxes while they compete for resources.
One critical difference between the blockchain-based metaverse and an MMORPG (massively-multiplayer online role-playing game) is the ownership. Decentralized players own the metaverse. Although the developers did create the platform, they don’t have all the rights or final creative control over it. This is unlike standard games. Whatever you own in the metaverse, it belongs to you — such as the hat I still couldn’t afford to craft with those gems that took me a whole night to mine.
It’s hard to remember when I last worked as hard to get higher levels or to gather low-level gear in a video game. The excitement this time was quite different. Knowing that whatever you own in this game actually belongs to you — via blockchain immutability — is a game-changer. The metaverse isn’t a utopia, this makes it even more clear. All of this is earned (with the exception of some NFTs that are free and airdropped). Either you are already “crypto rich” and can buy items off the shelf, or you are talented enough to create your own products and sell them to other people. To feel competent, even the most mediocre muggles must find their place in this new world.
Day two of Decentraland: The Experience
Being a cultural person, who loves quiet spaces and noise, I was immediately drawn to the Spanish Museum. Imagined an Andalusian building, complete with NFT-painting exhibitions by the new Dada movement. To chase the promised free NFT I was imagining, I spent hours trying to climb to the top using a series of moving blue platforms.
My Super Mario-style jump adventure required me to make a decision about whether or not my opinion was pro-Facebook. This brilliantly was an original resistance force that emerged from the Decentraland metaverse. It was designed to convey the message and truth of the metaverse. We do not want a centralized, corporate-controlled metaverse like Ready Player One. I really didn’t expect that this resistance would be rising up so soon within Decentraland. On second thought, though, it’s about time.
What elevated the experience, even more, was that when I finally made it to the top of the building, I got to choose from a box of hearts or a box of tomatoes — to throw at the face of Mark Zuckerberg. The Meta CEO’s visage was printed on all six facets of a rotating cube floating in the air. Some user-generated experience might have graphics that look somewhat sloppy, possibly because of my older laptop. But that’s not the point. It’s not the point. I enjoyed the game, managed to chuck my tomato in the Zucker-mug and now wait for my free NFT.
Recalling the graphics: The infrastructure to create amazing art is in place. Some experiences were quite amazing in terms of the graphics and visual effects. If you have a bigger screen with a higher resolution, it’s even better. Like an oil painting, the moving clouds and the blue sky were beautifully reflected on the glass floor. You feel like you’re in Neo Tokyo with futuristic skyscrapers or cyberpunk flying cars. Again, having fancy CGI and Mass Effect-tier graphics isn’t the main goal of a metaverse. It’s about ownership, freedom, and experience.
It’s worth mentioning that many interesting experiences like the resistance offered by the Spanish Museum are time-limited. El METAEVENTO (the fun tomato-throwing competition) was available from November 6th to 26th. The entire setup had been destroyed by the time I returned to the site, so all that was left was a museum filled with anti/pro posters.
By the way, after two nights of mining, I still didn’t get myself a hat. Six ghosts were reburied in Halloween Town, and I was able to guide them. And I learned you don’t need an expensive hat to have fun in the metaverse.
Decentraland, Day Three: Sotheby’s and Spicy Pandas
The fun part of scrolling through Decentraland’s places of interests was the browsing. Many places seemed quite appealing and even mysterious. Sotheby’s Natively Digital gallery was on my to-do list even before I had entered Decentraland for the first time. As a way to respect fine art as well as the brand’s name, I made a new avatar. Although there was no hat on the avatar, it did have hair.
It was there that I found myself. Who could have guessed that one day I’d show up at the prestigious Sotheby’s in my high school sailor uniform and dango buns without being judged? Only in metaverse. At this stage, unless there is a special event, there aren’t many areas to explore inside the Sotheby’s building. Funny installation art that used a toilet paper shortage theme. It even looked like the Sotheby’s building had been looted, what with the big mess next to the reception area.
Another landmark in Decentraland on my list was Chinatown — Dragon City. I assumed that like Chinatowns everywhere in the real world, it would be built by the Chinese and look authentic — not like an Orientalized Chinese fantasy.
Then I noticed what appeared to be a panda in a hotpot with a yin and yang shape from the top. One panda was enjoying the heat while another one was cooking in the other half. The moment I was there, I would have loved to be able to snap a picture with the panda in the hotpot and upload it somewhere else on Decentraland social media.
Let’s end with a brief explanation about metaverse immortality. You will not be killed if you jump into the shallow water close to Dragon City. I did try a few risky activities that might have killed a character in an RPG. But characters in Decentraland don’t die. Period. So when I couldn’t be bothered to take the elevator or walk all the way down the dazzling, winding stairs, I just jumped off the ten-floor building and landed elegantly on the ground like a gold-medal-winning Olympic gymnast. This small detail was actually very powerful and liberating.
Metaverse has no borders and fears. The first step towards free exploration is not to be afraid.
Dragon City’s high-rise temples were stunning with many details. I didn’t hear any traditional Chinese music in the background and had to check whether my internet was too slow. However, the real essence of Chinatown for me is its authentic cuisine. But, it is not likely that smells and tastes will be integrated into the metaverse anytime soon. So, now it’s time to order some chow mein delivery.
What do you think about Neomi’s first adventure in the metaverse? Do you think Zuckerberg would have been thrown tomatoes and hearts? Please comment below.
Image creditShutterstock. Pixabay. Wiki Commons
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