The Idea of the Universal Avatar

This morning there was an interesting discussion on the official Sansar Discord channels about the idea of a Universal Avatar. Lilith Heart (well known for her Heart Botanicals brand in Second Life) said:

…Whoever owns the first truly Universal Avatar system that enables people to travel with their inventories intact, to different worlds/games/systems, will possibly dominate and win. It’s all about the avatar and its valuable inventory, and most of the big players in this area so far seem to be neglecting this. It surprises me that Unity/Unreal/Lumberyard/Cryengine, none of them have such a Universal Avatar system in place. Kind of crazy really because effectively what is happening is, every developer/studio has to reinvent the wheel and create their own avatar/character systems. Whoever solves this problem will make the big, big [money].

Another user (Aojashin) argued that what Linden Lab is attempting to build in Sansar is a sort of Universal Avatar: one customizable avatar with inventory, which can visit multiple, vastly different experiences (“metaverses”). I still prefer to define all of Sansar as a whole single metaverse, but he has a good point.

Of course, you could argue that we already have a sort of Universal Avatar ability in the Opensims. They have the option of Hypergrid, which allows users to visit other OpenSimulator installations across the web from their “home” OpenSimulator installation. But that is supported only because they are all pretty much running off the same codebase.

Obviously, there are almost insurmountable technical obstacles to creating such a Universal Avatar system. But the idea still has merit. What is likely to happen instead is a Facebook model: one company so dominates in a particular area that they set the standard. And there are so many companies (including the big five: Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook/Oculus, and Microsoft/Altspace) who desperately want to dominate in this area. (In fact, Amazon has just announced their Amazon Sumerian product, obviously eager to muscle in on the corporate market for VR experiences. I’m sure that Linden Lab is hoping for a piece of that market for the Sansar platform! It looks like it’s going to be a very competitive arena.)

But if the major players ever do agree on some open standards that allow avatars created in one system to travel to others, we could see the dawn of the true metaverse as depicted in fiction by sci-fi novels such as Ready Player One and Snow Crash.

ready-player-one

Image: taken from the upcoming Ready Player One movie by Steven Spielberg (variety.com)

 

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13 thoughts on “The Idea of the Universal Avatar”

  1. Well, it’s not quite that simple. There are lots of issues with economics, object cloning, copyright, identity management and tracking and various legalities that come with such a system.

    Like

  2. It’s not going to be easy to implement, but I agree with Lilith Heart. Whoever does manage to do it is going to win big. Imagine what could be built around such a system, if you didn’t have to worry about the avatar. People might be more eager to explore something new knowing they can “be themselves” when they get there – with all their inventory intact.

    Liked by 1 person

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