fair and accessible metaverse

We have all heard of the term metaverse by now, and you likely have a basic understanding of this virtual world where people can interact, play games, build, and buy/sell virtual and soon physical world items. What we haven’t seen discussed at length is who will be able to access the metaverse, and whether that access will suffer from the same irl (in-real-life) inequalities we see in everyday life around the globe. In this article, we will explore the best ways to create a metaverse that is accessible to all, at a global level, and how to empower those who have the least to be just as successful at utilizing the features as those who have the most.

What Do We Mean By Fair Global Access to the Metaverse

The first foundational building block of accessibility and fairness of the metaverse is the foundation on which it is built. While many would give the crown initially to Facebook’s Meta project, we would disagree on that point, as they have continually shown a lack of care, arguably under profit motive, to ignore users with accessibility issues. I point you to this enlightening article titled “Facebook didn’t mark ads as ads for blind people for almost 2 years” Facebook not only has this history of accessibility issues, but also fair global access. For example, if you’re old enough, you likely remember at the beginning of Facebook when it was only accessible to those with Harvard and then other .edu university emails. Then came corporations, then by Sept 2006 everyone with a valid email address. This created a hierarchy of initial members, likely wealthier than others who could not afford college .edu email addresses, having a first adopters advantage in growing friend networks and communities on the application.

It doesn’t have to be this way with metaverse projects. Especially with the advantage of “web 3” goals of decentralization and anonymity, arguably encouraged by Cambridge Analytica and other corporate greed-inspired breaches, it shouldn’t matter where you’re from, how much money or connections you have, or even who you are. If you want to be anonymous and possibly have to due to an invasive or over-reaching govt/corporations, you should be allowed to. Communicating and interacting with your friends in a scalable online environment should not require KYC (know your customer) or the selling of your actions and personal information to private corporations and governments. For the technology itself, I’m sure Meta and many of the other companies will have amazing technology, but will it be accessible to all, and at what price? Let’s next dive deeper into the tech stack…

unity verse unreal metaverse game engines

Unity vs Unreal: Fairness in Devices, Cost to Users & Users with Disabilities

When you go to develop and design the technology stack behind a metaverse project, a core goal of this stack should be related to global accessibility. By that we mean what devices will be compatible, how powerful (expensive) these devices should be, and who can afford those devices for minimum compatibility. As an example, we see some projects using the Unreal gaming engine for their metaverse-type projects, which is often a beautiful graphical experience. This experience comes at a price though, mainly to those who cannot afford top-of-the-line expensive desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. With a large portion of the developing world only able to afford lower-end android devices, it’s possible to argue a lack of global accessibility and scalability on those Unreal-powered and other computationally intensive technology stacks. This is one of the reasons we chose Unity as the foundational building block of our metaverse technology stack.

Unity, while still often a beautiful graphical experience with the right implementation and artists, allows for a much more adjustable and accessible minimum compatibility requirement. It can run on a basic low cost android device, with maybe not the best internet, and players/users can still have a fair metaverse experience. Unity is cross-platform and very flexible among device support, while Unreal is generally focused on PC and Console support. A prime example of a mobile game using Unity that can run on affordable devices very well is Call of Duty Mobile. It’s a complicated discussion that gets very technical, but we’re confident we have made a good choice with using Unity, not only for users, but also for fellow developers that may want to connect to the metaverse.

Unity also has wonderful tools and settings for accessibility improvements to the metaverse and games in the metaverse, and this is important, as over 20% of casual gamers have some sort of disability. These people should not be left out, and it’s important to us at Metaversol that they are not. Next let’s chat about the impact of the metaverse on people and the environment…

Funding of the Metaverse & Responsible Impacts to the Environment Concerning Blockchains

When developing a metaverse project, funding is important, and the source of your funding can lead to decisions made that directly affect users and their families. Some take funding from venture capitalists, or facebook has it’s own funding (also arguably from venture capitalists), and some like Metaversol self-fund along with community fund via NFT sales for some premium/first access features. We did not choose to limit access to only those with NFTs, as we have seen with some recent blockchain-based metaverse projects. The Metaversol world is accessible to all, with only buildable items and spaces allotted to NFT owners. Next let’s chat about NFTs and choice of blockchain technology…

With many metaverse projects selling land or access via NFTs, it only makes sense to review the impact of the blockchain used for the creation and ownership verification of the NFTs. The most popular metaverse projects using blockchain-based NFTs, such as Decentraland and The Sandbox, are using Ethereum blockchain. If you’re familiar with blockchains and cryptocurrency, you have likely heard of Eth and Ethereum before. But perhaps you haven’t heard about the downsides that affect many people globally. These include not only the high gas fees (fees on transactions often above $40 per transaction, even over $1000 at times), but also the negative impact on the environment.

We see ourselves as stewards of the environment and world, both in the metaverse and outside of it, in real life. This is why we choose to use Solana blockchain instead of Ethereum blockchain. Not only has the Solana Foundation made the blockchain carbon neutral in the form of buying credits, but the environmental impact of each transaction, such as buying or selling an NFT, is substantially less than Ethereum and most other blockchains. A single Solana transaction is about 1,837 Joules (energy used) compared to 692,820,000 Joules for an Ethereum transaction. Some may interject here with a claim that Ethereum 2 (eth2) will fix this, but from their own estimates, it will be 126,000 Joules per transaction. This leads us to believe that Solana is the most eco-friendly chain in a usable state, and it’s likely to stay at the top of these metrics for a long time.

Thank you for reading along and we invite you to check out our metaverse project, Metaversol, read our roadmap, and come try one of our demos (links in discord and twitter)