Let us demystify the metaverse and highlight the endless possibilities for us and our counterparts in the African diaspora. In this article, we will understand what the hype is truly about and highlight possible opportunities in this digital world. Ready? Let’s go.
What do we really know about the metaverse?
A metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds that you can experience as avatars and it crosses over to crypto, social media, digital fashion and more. It is often described as a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a single, universal virtual world.
Essentially it is a world that exists “after”, “besides” or simply “beyond” our world. – a virtual world where you can be anything you want to be. But wait a minute – why should we care about a virtual world of odd avatars with blocky bodies inhabiting an arguably unrealistic environment and transacting with in-game currencies within mini economies for “digital goods” and experiences? Surely we can have more fun scrolling through a 2D Instagram interface watching “real” life happen?
Who’s building these metaverses & how do they work?
Companies that have built metaverses of their own such as Roblox, a metaverse where people can build mini-games, meet up with friends, customize and buy merch and products using robux (an in-game currency) are now public and securing serious bags. Roblox was valued at $38 billion with 45,5 million daily users in 2021. Proving that at the very least, there is a lot of activity that is helping human beings connect, interact, spend and make racks while having fun in a digital world. These experiences essentially augment our “real life” and ultimately bring the world a bit closer to everyone’s fingertips through the internet.
This is the land of the free, a land of opportunities for many to make products, games and worlds within worlds where communities with similar interests can enjoy themselves from anywhere. The metaverse is tipped to supplant the web browser and mobile apps in how we will stroll through the internet while wearing our limited edition digital drip. The Metaverse has opened up many opportunities for people in real life to create and sell products digitally from NFTs such as digital artworks, digital clothes or digital experiences, to events and concerts from the comfort of your own home.
Think of metaverses as The SIMS, only in this version you can create and sell characters, clothes, property, products and experiences for like-minded individuals.
Platforms such as Decentraland, a virtual world where you can sign up as an avatar and explore the world, were built with the aim of decentralisation – meaning it should be owned entirely by users who have the power to make decisions about what happens, when it happens and how it happens. It’s almost like the age-old story of settlers who got dibs on your forefather’s land when it was worth a fraction of its potential. The owners of this platform created limited land and the early adopters bought it up for millions of dollars and started developing on it – ok, ok maybe not that deep but you follow right? It’s like virtual real-estate… insane, isn’t it?… But hold your Zed run horses, it’s not THAT crazy.
Owners of the land can rent it out for digital activations, product advertising, shopping malls/ markets, concerts and more enhanced digital experiences for their audience. There’s even a casino where your avatar can play the casino games and make money in the form of in-game currency which can then be converted to cryptocurrency and ultimately real money.
Opportunities of the metaverse.
The metaverse real estate market is quite exciting, full of potential and boundless. “Imagine if you came to New York when it was farmland and you had the option to get a block of SoHo,” said the co-founder of digital real estate company Metaverse Group, Michael Gord, in an interview with the New York Times. These words echo a similar message as Jay-Z’s regrets on The Story of O.J. where he raps “I could’a bought a place in Dumbo before it was Dumbo for like 2 million. That same building today is worth 25 million. Guess how I’m feelin’? Dumbo.”
On the more professional side, there are great opportunities within the metaverse, for instance, Bill Gates predicts that virtual meetings will move to the metaverse – as quickly as within three years – workers will most likely rely on using VR headsets and avatars for work purposes. Creators from across the globe can collaborate to make digital products and experiences within a selected metaverse in order to connect and interact with their audience.
The “black Metaverse” and it’s possibilities
School and social life too will evolve. Roblox is planning to bring educational video games to classrooms. This could open up interactive spaces for people of African descent within the diaspora to learn more about their history, customs and any other building blocks that can cement and amplify their existence/experiences within and of the world. Another example is AltspaceVR, a platform that enables community-based experiences in the metaverse which allows people to gather for live virtual events such as comedy shows and bar nights. Roblox sees itself as a future hub for metaverse experiences beyond virtual games and towards virtual concerts. We’ve seen how effective these unfathomable ideas have come to life in instances such as the Marshmello concert in Fortnite which upon writing this article, attracted 10 million people and over 60 million views on Youtube. In a virtual world, we could see global African musicians host a festival of biblical proportions online, it would allow us to experience the greatness of African music and its influence whilst connecting with our 3D friends over chats and games in a virtually “safe” environment.
A new era for commerce may dawn, with stores selling anything from digital pets (Tamagotchi on steroids) to digital fashion for your avatars. For instance, Nike has filed trademarks for virtual gear, shoes and accessories, and luxury labels such as Gucci, Balenciaga and Luis Vuitton are beginning to sell digital clothes and digital bags. Meta-malls are starting to pop up, allowing you to shop in VR stores and stock up on outfits for your avatar and for yourself in real life. Imagine rocking your favourite pair of Bathu or Drip sneakers, amaXhosa, Thebe magugu or even Rich Mnisi luxury gear while floating about and minding your business in the metaverse, another possible way that Africans and people of the African diaspora within the fashion industry can fast track racial inclusion in this space while making an additional income for their business.
Why would you possibly want to be a part of such a world? Well, it’s simple, this is how the future is shaping up to be and we need to adapt and seek opportunities in order for our businesses and creativity to thrive through this space. Just like we never saw the importance of Facebook, Instagram and online shopping at some point in time – look how many people can’t live without, as well as make a living off of these platforms.
With the right infrastructure Africa could create a globally impactful information highway between the continent and its counterparts across the globe; creating a digital haven for our stories to be told and experienced in a way that would be otherwise limited in the physical world. Imagine a digital Wakanda, if you may, where we could trade, entertain, connect and interact from all corners of the globe… Imagine what we could create. A New Black History and a fresh perspective on the future by us and for us!
What is an NFT? A fad or here to stay?
In this article we explore the world of None-Fungible Tokens and how you can benefit from this latest digital “craze”.
The fact that the digital economy is growing so fast means that we can now create value and substantial profit through our creativity; the current technological landscape has created more opportunities for people like you and me to align our chakras, unleash our ultimate creative selves, and possibly make millions of rands overnight. It’s probably less complicated than boiling an egg or more complex than baking your own croissants while reading a copy of “POPI act for dummies”…But before you get excited and start manifesting your profound piece of digital art, allow me to try and simplify/explain what NFTs are, how they work, and ideas of how you can benefit from them.
The latest buzzword seems so confusing and complicated, lucrative and intimidating…more cryptic than crypto and even more perplexing than blockchain, but I assure you that these terms are really simple, well kind of.
An NFT is a Non-Fungible Token, but what does fungible mean in the first place? Let’s get into it.
Fungible VS Non-fungible?
Fungible is an adjective that refers to something that cannot be distinguished from another thing, it is interchangeable, substitutable or uniform; For example, If I lend you a R10 note and you pay me back as either two R5 coins or another R10 note I won’t mind because it still has the same value as the R10 I gave you.
In the same way, one bar of gold must be tradable or exchangeable for another bar of gold, or two bars that are half the size and weight. Still with me? Great!
Examples of fungible goods include oil, bonds, gold and other precious metals, money, and unopened items of consumer products on store shelves such as boxes of cereal.
They possess fungibility if they have identical value and properties of other items; Once you damage or crack that box of Weetbix open, it’s over, it’s no longer of the same value as an unopened/undamaged box, it is then no longer….you guessed it! Fungible.
Non-Fungible is the opposite in that, Assets like diamonds, land, or baseball cards have unique qualities that add or subtract value.
NFT(non-fungible token) in its most overly simplified terms, attributes ownership of a digital property/asset to one single person. It certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. NFTs can be used to represent digital files such as photos, videos, audio etc.
NFTs are made to give you ownership of the work although in some cases the artist can opt to retain the copyright and reproduction rights (hint,hint).
So What’s the fuss?
Well it’s simple for reasons that we might not yet comprehend at this tender stage of the game, that just like a physical art piece the true value is in the original, and essentially the more it is replicated/copied and subsequently popularised, the more the original increases in value.
“NFTs can work like any other speculative asset, where you buy it and hope that the value of it goes up one day, so you can sell it for a profit”
anyone can sell their digital work as an NFT most notably the sale of Beeple’s “Every Days – The first 5000 days” sold for $69 million, and an animated Gif of Nyan Cat (a 2011 meme) was sold for more than $500,000.
So what are you waiting for? Go design a uniquely absurd Jpg or rally up your ultra cool high-school friends to record a one of a kind comeback album, get all your friends and family to hype it up, get the streets talking and journalists typing frantically on all digital mediums, hailing you for your ground breaking creativity and hey…you might just quit your 9-5 forever and all thanks to the invention of NFTs.
Now that you are suited, booted and want to “tokenize” your genius idea, it’s important to know where you can upload your work and start raking in the big bucs.
There are several marketplaces that were created around the selling and buying of NFTs. These include OpenSea, Rarible, Nifty Gateway, and recently a South African platform called Momint.
Anyone with an internet connection, marketing hype, creativity and access to a desired program or software can become the next overnight billionaire. You, reading this now could change your fortunes from where you sit.
So don’t let the big terms spook you out, read a little, live a little, create your art, upload it, put a value on it and let the rest happen.
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