Clarifying the Word "Metaverse"

When we broke ground to build The Mirror last November, crypto was hot and I quickly leapt on the word "metaverse" because I thought its interpretation captured the vision for a next-gen game development platform... "scam"... wasn't our intent: allow me to tell you a story.

Clarifying the Word "Metaverse"

When we broke ground to build The Mirror last November, crypto was hot and I quickly leapt on the word "metaverse" because I thought its interpretation captured the vision for a next-gen game development platform, thus our corporate name is "The Mirror Megaverse" (the latter being a play on the word). However, I realize and readily admit that I had baked-in assumptions. I wasn't taking into account the full picture of how "metaverse" has recently become synonymous with "scam". Aligning ourselves in this manner wasn't our intent: allow me to tell you a story.

Dwight Shelford in Second Life

The year was 2007 and Second Life was the OG "metaverse" - even Dwight Schrute had a Second Life because his first life as a paper salesman was so good, he needed a second.

I'd been making games in DarkBASIC and building 3D models in Bryce 5 for a few years and was working on an MMORPG inspired by Runescape, but I quickly realized that while spinning up single player experiences was doable, building large multiplayer games was hard for an individual. A video flashed on the news of someone building in real-time in Second Life and I immediately hopped in.

The magic of Second Life wasn't in standalone socializing: that was already accomplished by AOL Instant Messenger, IMVU, MySpace, and the like. The radical feature was real-time game development with being able to 3D model and code and sell and socialize and game - simultaneously. The platform was far ahead of its time and other attempts at capturing this magic have produced some of the most loved and ground-breaking apps and games of the past 2 decades: Minecraft, Figma, Miro, Replit, and more.

My friends and I were avid Call of Duty fans and although Second Life wasn't geared for a first-person shooter, we made it work because of the power of the platform and the limitless creativity it enabled. It was like Inception: you can will the world into existence and build anything you dream.

In this futuristic military Second Life storyline, your identity was completed tied to the military you were apart of and the armor you wore. The armor was distinct, visible by all anywhere you walked, incredibly complex, and programmable: it was best-selling creation and a staple of my online business in 8th grade.

The armor set, dubbed "Falcon Armor"

One day I was in a sandbox region building a vehicle and I noticed this guy across the map who had the exact same armor set as me. This wasn't anything unusual since I sold a version of the armor set, but there were features on it that I had built for only myself and hadn't sold.

I right-clicked and inspected the outfit, and lo and behold, a different creator was listed - some name I'd never heard of, an account only a few months old. I messaged the owner asking about his armor set and he said he built it himself and tried to sell me a copy.

I was horrified. I knew every square inch of that armor set from the hundreds of hours I modeled, textured, and programmed it. I was known across the game as the creator of it - it was 8th grade Jared's magnum opus - and there it was, stolen.

There's a known hacking tool in Second Life called the CopyBot, and short of filing a lawsuit (none of which have gone to trial), users are unprotected from having their creations stolen. As a middle schooler, what do you do next? Beyond submitting a report to Linden Lab, do you try to find a lawyer to take your case and hopefully get a settlement?

The short answer is that there weren't any real solutions; see the Wikipedia entry above. However, with technology developed in the past 2 years, that can change.

The scams in the NFT space make me nauseous and there's still a lot that needs to get figured out for digital asset ownership to be done correctly. However, it's the first time, arguably since the dawn of the internet, that there may be a viable solution to solve this problem.

Exact implementations aside, this is why I hopped on the "metaverse" term as hundreds of thousands of people became enamored with this progress in digital ownership rights. I was so excited that others might be on board for a solution to the digital asset space from challenges I faced 15 years ago.

The Mirror is positioned far away from scammy promises that proliferated with the NFT wave. As with those promises though, talk is cheap, hence why we've avoided the classic web3 hype beast posts with an over-proliferation of 🔥 emojis. If something has hype, it should have real value.

We, in no way, want to align ourselves with the over-promise-and-under-deliver-but-buy-our-token-first plays. That is not and has never been our intent.

Our focus is, and always has been, on building a great game development platform.

Contrary to nearly every similar platform, we embrace open-source software to enable next-generation features, such as interoperability, composability, shared data layers, and open APIs.

As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The Mirror is in private early access and I'd love for you to join us. Whether you have another scoop of pudding or choose a different dish, we'd love to hear it.

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The future is in the mirror. I hope these reflections will be useful to you.
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