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Metaverse exceeds current virtual reality simulations tenfold: Sinha, Kumar

Metaverse – a universe where the physical and digital worlds converge. Microsoft has talked about it. So have some gaming companies and fashion houses, which see in it a space where people’s avatars can try on virtual clothing. And now, Facebook has made news around it through its reported plans to rebrand itself into a “metaverse company”. Closer home, Bengaluru-based game developer studio Gamestacy intends to build India’s next big gaming metaverse. In an interview with Veenu Sandhu, Gamestacy founder Danish Sinha and investor-promoter Sanjay Kumar explain what .....
Metaverse – a universe where the physical and digital worlds converge. Microsoft has talked about it. So have some gaming companies and fashion houses, which see in it a space where people’s avatars can try on virtual clothing. And now, Facebook has made news around it through its reported plans to rebrand itself into a “metaverse company”. Closer home, Bengaluru-based game developer studio Gamestacy intends to build India’s next big gaming metaverse. In an interview with , Gamestacy founder Danish Sinha and investor-promoter Sanjay Kumar explain what a metaverse is. They also talk about making online gaming safe for women, who are often bullied and harassed in this space, and their concerns about some states banning online gaming. Edited excerpts:

What is a metaverse and why is it of significance?

The next version of the internet is commonly referred to as the metaverse — it’s a virtual space that’s constantly online and active, even without people logging in. In other words, it’s a virtual world that feels exactly the same as our real world and you can communicate with anybody in any corner of the world and do anything you like — all from the comfort of your couch.

Moreover, the metaverse is also a parallel universe that has its own economy, complete with jobs, shopping areas and media to entertain. Though the metaverse doesn’t exist yet, it is expected to be an expansive network where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.

In our world today, do we encounter the metaverse in any form?

The metaverse is yet to become a reality but many industry leaders are obsessed with the idea. And the sector giving us the closest experience of this matrix is online gaming. The gaming industry got on this trend during the pandemic and the accelerated development of mobile-first nations. Popular massively multiplayer online (MMO) games have since been exploring the potential of evolving beyond their gameplay. They are striving to become a digital third place for people to connect, socialise online and even participate in virtual live events together.

The metaverse offers immersive gaming experiences that exceed the current virtual reality product simulations tenfold. Hence, gaming is highly likely to play one of the biggest roles in bringing the metaverse to fruition as video games own some of the most robust computational processors available.

What would the metaverse that Gamestacy plans to build offer?

Gamestacy’s flagship product ‘Influenzer’ is an immersive gaming world that has all the social and interactive elements you expect in the metaverse. In the game, a unique digital culture has evolved and translated to the physical world where people can share their best moments with friends, gain followers and also play multiple in-built games. Since digital economies thrive in the metaverse, we have used block chain technology to create their economy, including virtual currencies that will allow users to create, share and trade digital goods. Influenzer provides a deeper reality by making gamers actively participate with the environment rather than just being focused on a flat screen. Users can hang out or attend virtual events without playing any games and even create their in-game avatars with full body, face and clothes customisation.

You are working to create a safe gaming platform for women. How?

The gender gap in the gaming industry is gradually closing but we still have a long way to go. The gaming industry has a problem of toxic masculinity and women conceal their identity to avoid this toxicity.

Online games are the new social media platforms where people connect and engage with others from around the world. So, the responsibility lies on developers to make the platform a safe space for everyone. To achieve this and curb sexist and abusive behaviour towards women, we have limited all in-game conversations to only preset responses in a chat-box-like experience, and implemented an AI-backed system to monitor in-game interactions. Further, we also pay attention to in-game character representation and ensure diversity and inclusion.

Online gaming is facing a ban in some states. How do you plan to counter these challenges?

We can see a rift being created between “games of chance” and “games of skill”. Laws around such games have come as a big shock to the gaming industry and will result in a big dent to the business. It is a massive blow to the fastest growing sector in Indian entertainment. Investments, jobs, revenues and consequently taxes will all be severely affected. Such state governments should take cognisance of this and create an enabling gaming policy that will facilitate growth and opportunity. A few industry leaders are seeking legal recourse in the matter.


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