When was the last time you've seen one of your colleagues in person? On Wednesday, April 21st, Consensys coworkers met up in Decentraland for our first-ever company-wide gathering in the metaverse.
As a very social community, the lack of in-person meetups, events, and conferences means that we've been finding creative ways to create a stronger sense of community. So we took it upon ourselves to hop off of Slack and meet up in the metaverse during the lockdown. Taking a break from my usual all-black wardrobe IRL, I selected a colorful ensemble and a pair of Geordi La Forge glasses and descended into cyberspace.
How’d we get here?
Mere minutes after asking, "How do we host an event in Decentraland?" in the Decentraland Discord, a staff member messaged back to schedule a Zoom call. Not only was it possible to host an event, but it was also possible to build a Consensys headquarters for future gatherings!
How do we create a digital-physical space? Enter: VoxelArchitects Skybuilders
VoxelArchitects are a group of artists passionate about virtual art, virtual reality, and blockchain technology. A scan of their portfolio shows that they don't shy away from bringing complex architecture to the metaverse; their portfolio showcases a roman amphitheater, a CryptoMotors showroom, a Christmas market, and a 12-meter fridge to display art NFTs, a piece of childhood nostalgia replicated in cyberspace.
Decentraland hired VoxelArchitects to build Consensys, a beautiful, ten parcel building to act as a headquarters for Consensys virtual events and showcase our work in the Ethereum ecosystem.
What is the metaverse?
The word "metaverse" is a portmanteau combining the prefix "meta" (which means beyond) and the stem "verse" ( from "universe.") The word is used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the Internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe.
Concepts similar to the metaverse have appeared under various names in the cyberpunk genre of fiction as far back as 1981. Yet, the term became officially recognized from Neal Stephenson's 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash where he used the term "metaverse" to describe a virtual reality-based successor to the Internet. In Snow Crash, humans represented as avatars interact with each other and software agents in a 3D space embodying the metaphor of the real world.
In 1995, Active Worlds, which was based entirely on Snow Crash, popularized the arduous endeavor of distributing virtual-reality worlds capable of implementing the metaverse concept. Second Life was another popular rendition, which launched in 2003.
Growth of metaverses on Ethereum
The NFT frenzy (not to mention a year spent at home) has heightened interest in Ethereum-based metaverses. The best known are Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, Somnium Space, Arcona, and The Sandbox. The price of land in the metaverse has skyrocketed.
The difference between buying digital goods in a regular metaverse vs. a blockchain-based metaverse is that the latter option allows users to prove actual ownership and self-custody of their digital items. This ownership enables gamers to bring their digital assets from one world to the next or sell them on secondary markets, like OpenSea. Actual digital ownership — owning your virtual parcels, clothing, and collectibles — is a true first for gaming. Many gamers, Vitalik Buterin, included, mourned the loss of their hard-earned digital collectibles, citing the loss of his World of Warcraft “Siphon Life spell” as one of the first catalysts to him learning more about Bitcoin and the problem with centralized services.
Decentraland has seen more than $56 million in total sales, including land, avatars, usernames, and wearables like virtual outfits. A patch of land measuring 41,216 virtual square meters sold for $572,000 on April 11th, 2021, which the platform said was a record.
Decentraland is the first fully decentralized virtual world, which officially became open to the public in 2020. Controlled by the Decentraland DAO, the people who create and play in this virtual space and hold $MANA control the policies designed to determine how the world behaves: for example, what kinds of wearable items are allowed (or disallowed), moderation of content, LAND policy, and auctions, among others.
Consensys’ First Foray into the Decentraland Metaverse
Consensys now has a virtual homestead. Our new HQ in Decentraland will become a place to gather and share real-world and virtual-world ideas and further build our online community. We plan to meet for virtual drinks, host talks, NFT exhibits, team and client meetings.
To kick off our first event, the disembodied voice of Consensys founder, Joseph Lubin, greeted the Consensys avatars.
A special thank you to Decentraland for building our land, to VoxelArchitects for building this amazing virtual space, and to Nicki Wells for creating a beautiful musical composition for our digital home.