NFTs, Opinion

Metaverse as Digital Nations

Ethereum's metaverse is blooming with digital nations 🌐
William M. Peaster William M. Peaster Apr 21, 20213 min read
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Metaverse as Digital Nations

Dear Bankless Nation,

Ethereum’s VR projects are raking in interest like never before as more and more people arrive to enjoy and make the most of these new digital frontiers.

One way to understand these projects is as the first digital nations in Ethereum’s blooming metaverse.

Folks can move among them as they please, and as digital nations they each have their own respective cultures, economies, and attractions like their real world counterparts.

With this theme in mind, in today’s Metaversal I make the case for why the future of these digital nations is wide open from here!

-WMP


Metaverse as Digital Nations

With mainstream coverage of the blockchain-based virtual worlds reaching all-time highs, many people are trying to wrap their heads around what exactly is the metaverse lately.

In short, you can think of the metaverse as the aggregate of interconnected or readily connectable virtual environments, not unlike how we think of the internet as the aggregate of Clear Web and Deep Web websites at any given time.

With the relatively recent rise of the online sphere and virtual realities, the metaverse is certainly in its early years and will evolve and mature considerably from here, even if unevenly or in spurts.

All that said, a compelling development in the wider metaverse’s evolution has been the new advent of blockchain-based worlds as popularized atop Ethereum by projects like Cryptovoxels, Decentraland, and more.

What makes these particular virtual worlds so interesting is that, while totally distinct in style, they share what non-blockchain VR projects don’t: interconnected immutable infrastructure, i.e. common state and shared economic standards via Ethereum and NFTs.

There’s never been anything like this shared and digitally-native economic infrastructure in the history of the metaverse, then. So if you think the sky’s the limit from here for Ethereum and NFTs, at least generally speaking, it stands to reason that the Ethereum-centric offshoot of the metaverse has good chances of evolving in all sorts of unprecedented ways going forward.

So aneconomic system for the metaverse has been solved in the form of Ethereum, or at least for our blooming new portion of the metaverse. This paves the way for virtual-first communities to seriously start thriving culturally in the metaverse as people flock to and coalesce around novel groups and opportunities. It’s a new Renaissance, and in being powered by open public goods infrastructure like Ethereum it opens all of us to becoming participants in this cultural surge on the terms that we desire.

With that context, I think the best way to really start wrapping your head around Ethereum’s metaverse is by understanding it as a fledgling group of digital nations. As Accelerated Capital noted in a recent write-up on metaversal labor, digital landowner Flying Falcon aptly hailed our current historical moment as witness to the “rise of digital nations.”

Flying Falcon, who purchased 9 Genesis Axie Infinity digital parcels in Feb. 2021, specifically said at the time:

We're witnessing a historic moment; the rise of digital nations with their own systems of clearly delineated, irrevocable property rights. Axie land has entertainment value, social value, and economic value in the form of future resource flows.”

Here, I think the analysis of social value and so forth is very elucidating for anyone wanting to understand Ethereum’s metaverse. As digital nations, Ethereum VR worlds have their own respective “entertainment values, social values, and economic values.”

Of course, it’s always been possible to meaningfully express entertainment and social values in virtual spaces. Yet Ethereum’s solved being able to express serious economic value throughout the metaverse, which in turn has tremendous effects on catalyzing digital societies. This is why Ethereum’s VR world projects are digital nations now, even if young at the moment.

In the meantime, these worlds will continue to bloom organically and in unique ways, as online communities do. The possibilities are wide open from here.


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William M. Peaster

Written by William M. Peaster

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William M. Peaster, Senior Writer, has been with Bankless since January 2021. Immersed in Ethereum since 2017, he writes the Metaversal newsletter on the onchain frontier, covering everything from AI projects to crypto games, as the team’s lead NFT analyst. With a background in creative writing, he writes fiction and publishes art on Ethereum in his free time. He lives in Washington.

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