A large crowd of immobile clones standing still in a mostly empty world amidst tinny beats that would sound weak from a Game Boy. It’s almost like they’re waiting for something to happen. But nothing does. They stay mostly still, shuffling lightly, maybe spinning a little while the music keeps pounding. Strange humanoid statues surround them all. A person glides leisurely into the air. This is not a horror film or a weird art project. This is apparently a party in the so-called “Metaverse”. Sounds awful, right?
decentralized is a virtual 3D online world built around minting, buying and selling NFT items and digital land. It’s technically a game, but it seems like about as much fun as hanging around a doctor’s office. So today, when an NFT-loving CTO shared a clip of this boring world and one of its weird, dead-looking raves, the internet reacted as expected, collectively dove into the awful-looking simulacrum of a party. The ratio of the tweet is truly incredible, approaching 20:1 retweets to likes.
But there is so much wrong in the clip, tweeted by self-proclaimed “#NFT enthusiast” Alex Moss. For one thing, I’ve never been to a rave or a concert where people aren’t moving or dancing. Instead, in the metaverse, everyone stands next to each other like creepy robots. There even seems to be a distinct lack of dance emotes, which has existed in other online games for well over two decades.
It’s also hard to ignore the general cheap, cluttered vibe of everything. This insight into decentralized makes it look like a fictional game thrown together for an episode of in a few hours CSI: Whatever city, in which investigators try to solve a murder involving a “new” and “popular” online world. I can see a character actor playing this and saying, “Yeah, this is where I last saw Sally. Or someone who looked like Sally, we all look like the same shitty digital avatar here.”
Compare this to one of the Fourteen days concerts that have happened in recent years. This includes incredible graphics, fun game mechanics, talented musicians and huge cinematic moments of excitement. Hell, I was at a Korn concert in Adventure Quest 3D that was 10x better than everyone else decentralized Parties or concerts I’ve seen, including the one in Moss’ tweet. People danced while Korn played, and enemies were killed by partygoers. Good stuff. And although sure Roblox is a nightmare that uses children as cheap labor to fuel his content mill, at least his parties are looking silly and funny, not boring and bland.
And that’s not even considering VRChat, a game whose Virtual Rave-/Club-/Tanzszene, rendered via high-end VR graphics and truly innovative technologies like full-body tracking and haptic clothing, continuously sets new highs what virtual impersonation and online community events can be.
Possibly the weirdest part of decentralized and the ongoing Metaverse fad is that none of this stuff is new. Everything in it has already been done (or is still being done) in numerous previous online games. Ssecond life, World of Warcraft, GTA Online, Fortnite, and countless other popular virtual venues have been hosting parties and concerts, selling items for players, and letting them build houses for decades. but because a bunch of scammers, Tech Bro con artist, and Promised smell a quick way to make some money, we’re all going to have to watch people get excited about some boring shit that most people reading this site have seen, experienced, and played many, many times. As always, the future is terrible.