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The talks about how important the Metaverse can be in the next decades have started right after CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that the company will be rebranding to Meta. This step was made out of conviction that Metaverse will be the “next big thing” and that the company should focus all its attention on creating and building the best Metaverse for everyone.
Ever since then, the word Metaverse is more than just a buzzword. Companies around the world are now spending billions to join the race in creation of their own Metaverses, as well as establishing their positions in the Metaverses themselves.
While many are trying to figure out how to enter this world and begin their lives within the Metaverse, some are already wondering what will happen if their life in the Metaverse ends. Can that happen and if so, what consequences can it have?
While some argue that it is impossible to die in Metaverse, the rules which can determine whether you can die in the Metaverse will be decided by the people, team, company or DAO that is behind the given Metaverse that you choose to use.
Thus, no one can be 100% sure right now, whether death becomes such a close part of the Metaverse lives, as is with our current lives. Nevertheless, let’s look at the possibility that you can die in the Metaverse. What does this entail?
First of all, let’s be clear and state that dying in the Metaverse will not anyhow mean that the person, whose avatar dies, will die in reality. While some movies have already suggested this thematic, just like movie The Call Up (2016), these are sci-fi movies. And as they suggest, to die in the virtual reality (Metaverse) and in reality, at the same time, one would have to wear state-of-the-art tools and equipment.
Let’s not divert too much into the sci-fi and rather look more into what can happen if you die in the Metaverse. While we have established that the “in-game” death would not cause any physical harm in reality, the costs of this death could mostly be economic or social.
While the economic impact means that the player, whose avatar has died in the Metaverse, loses their progress in terms of value created in the Metaverse, the social impact can lead to loss of contacts and friends created in the virtual world.
The economic costs thus not only entail the inability of the player to bring the value created in the virtual world to the reality (such as virtual property or owned NFTs), but also the sunk cost of the time spent in the Metaverse. In many cases this would be similar to playing dozens or even hundreds of hours of any online game, just to have your account hacked and losing progress.
The social costs on the other hand are mostly connected to what contacts, friends or networks you have created in the Metaverse. If, for some reason, you decided not to connect with the people/avatars from the virtual world in the real world, once you die in Metaverse, you will not be able to retrieve those contacts back, thus losing mostly on a social level.
Having established what you can lose by dying in Metaverse, the question still remains, how can you die in the virtual world? As we specified earlier, the death of any characters or avatars in the Metaverse will be mostly determined by the entities that create the Metaverse. Thus, if you decide to use the Metaverse of a centralized company such as Meta, it will be this company that states the conditions under which a player can “die” in the virtual world.
The death in the Metaverse might not be anything that you imagine. You will probably not die in the Metaverse by jumping off the roof of a building. However, the real death will probably be more portrayed through the inability to join the platform.
Deplatforming or the inability to access the platform and your account can mean the death of your avatar in the Metaverse, which would simply disappear. Seeing accounts banned all around the social media, no one can be surprised that the companies in power will keep the same option of “banning” you from the Metaverse by denying you access to your account, thus dying in the Metaverse.
The fact that you can die in the Metaverse is also presented by the Metaverse Graveyard. Opera GX, has created the Metaverse Graveyard as a fun way how players can let their associates know that they have decided to “retire” from gaming and decided to pursue other real-life responsibilities.
“People do miss you. The online graveyard is a subtle tool for people to tell their friends who went missing on discord or in a game that they miss them.”
These are the words of Maciej Kocemba, Head of Opera GX. The Metaverse Graveyard gives an option to choose a stone skin, write eulogy or date and note where the player has been “last seen online.”
While this step is more of a satire and fun way how people can perceive the Metaverse and the online world, the reality remains the same. And that is that Metaverses will most likely become part of our lives. Hand in hand with this might come the idea of what happens when you die in the Metaverse.
And while some suggest that dying in Metaverse is the same as a “Game-over” in any given game, where you can start over. Others believe that the economic and social consequences of losing the ability to log back into your account can have an effect on your real life. Nevertheless, dying in Metaverse does not mean dying in real life, contrary to what this popular meme says:
While the Metaverse virtual reality seems to be inching closer, the fact is that as of now, most of the major companies are only joining the race and trying to create their own Metaverse. The mass adoption, if it happens, is in the distant future and thus worrying about “dying in Metaverse” might be a bit of an overstretch as of now.
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