Chapter 10
Life in the Screen: Metaverse and Future Directions

Popular culture has depicted a fairly uniform picture of the future of technology, particularly as it pertains to gaming. We imagine (often dystopian) societies where fully interactive and immersive virtual worlds have in some cases not only become the norm, but a necessary retreat from the everyday. Works such as Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash or Ernest Klein's Ready Player One paint the picture of a world where the better part of human interactivity exists not just online, but in virtual worlds of our own creation. The similarity of these visions are a reflection of the fact that the human mind tends to drift towards the possibilities of quite literally being within games—either as a fantasy or nightmare (depending on your POV) made manifest.

When we think about future directions for the gaming industry, and how businesses and brands may play into that future, it is not only impossible to address this future without mentioning the budding concept of the metaverse, but it is also helpful to frame the discussion in a way such that we think about the future of all game‐adjacent technologies through this same lens. As of the time of writing this book, the conversation around the concept of the metaverse has become a near‐deafening one catalyzed in part by Facebook renaming to “Meta” as a serious signal of intent towards building this future vision.1 As both a company that has deeply shaped the modern internet and how humans communicate through it which also has a history of placing “all‐in” directives on technological pathways such as mobile,2 the entire world took notice.

But what is the metaverse? It is an idea—one that relates to a future vision of the internet that is “embodied,” with less demarcation between our physical selves and our digital representations, not entirely unlike the virtual worlds threaded through popular fiction. This entails persistent, virtual worlds (often envisioned as 3D) through which much of the utility for the modern internet and broader social interactions will occur. The term itself is ripped right from fiction—the “metaverse” was just such a virtual world, which was a centerpiece in Snow Crash, though the underlying idea is becoming quite real.

The metaverse is often positioned as a component of a separate but related topic among technologist and futurist in the form of “Web 3.0,” the next iteration of the internet that calls for decentralization of information, typically via trustless verification enabled by blockchain. From both a commercial and practical standpoint, this can be understood as a rejection of the “walled gardens” of “Web 2.0,” which is often characterized by the rise of user‐generated content through networked social platforms such as Facebook. By facilitating (and containing) these exchanges, internet platforms under the aegis of companies like Google/Alphabet and Facebook/Meta amassed profound influence (and accrued a tremendous amount of revenue).

In this light two things are clear: The intentions of Facebook, now Meta, in this direction are hinged on maintaining influence and relevance in an eventual shift from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, because the metaverse as an idea has been wedded tightly to this future vision of the internet. As a result, the burgeoning conversation around the metaverse has, at a minimum, dramatically expanded the conversation around virtual worlds beyond the domain of gaming. In having a chapter devoted to the future of gaming through the lens of the metaverse, the point is not to portray the metaverse as the eventual and only outcome for the future of gaming. Rather, as has been a consistent theme throughout the book, understanding and fluency in gaming and game players will be a necessary competency for potentially any business or other organization needing to interact with massive groups of consumers. The metaverse provides a reasonably clear blueprint as to how this can unfold for the internet, one that may be traversed in ways that are closer to a game play experience than scrolling a screen. Understanding how to integrate with these environments, and the need state of individuals there, is as vital to short‐term executions in gaming as to potential long‐term ramifications for human interactivity in virtual worlds, given the long history of these worlds in gaming.

Throughout this book we've already touched on a number of important themes that have bearing on short‐term interactions and integrations in gaming which are also relevant to the future state of gaming and a potential metaverse:

  • The business of gaming is complex, volatile, and an extraordinarily difficult blend of art and technology that modern companies such as Meta are only just now beginning to reconcile with.
  • Gaming represents a particularly provocative form of participatory media, that has a multitude of positive and negative effects for intermediary forces, but largely still encapsulates a community that is highly invested, finds identity within gaming, and in many cases (via modding or otherwise) seeks to be part of building it.
  • The psychology of game experiences is unique relative to other forms of media. This can assuage concerns that persistent virtual worlds will turn human society into a mass of cyber zombies, but it also presents a number of practical challenges for both the literal creation of these worlds and the ways in which outside entities can interact with them meaningfully.
  • The worlds of work and play have already blurred in many cases—certainly in the case of professional game play (e.g., esports), but also via streaming and other mechanisms through which gaming has been formulated as an experience beyond the act of game play.
  • Gaming has benefited immensely from reducing the levels of esoteric knowledge required to onboard new fans into gaming (the rise of casual games, the simplicity of early arcade games, etc.). As it stands, navigating complex 3D worlds is among the most esoteric types of knowledge within gaming and often more germane to “traditional” gamers, but the potential for mimetic interfaces via VR or AR provides a road to a similar streamline for more mass adoption.
  • We've long used video games as a mechanism through which we contextualize new technology, be it personal computers, televisions, or mobile phones. The prospect of core mechanisms of interaction being founded within virtual worlds means that games will likely be the context through which consumers seek to understand this shift, which is convenient, given that (as noted) for the most part the “metaverse” as it exists now is almost entirely within the world of gaming.

In short, we will address future directions and trends for the gaming industry through the lens of metaverse not because metaverse is an eventuality, but rather because the metaverse as it exists now is a set of ideas that are direct antecedents of gaming or are closely related to gaming. It also allows us to apply the lessons necessary to integrating with gaming and understanding the gaming ecosystem to an even broader set of use cases. In doing so, the intention is to not downplay the importance of some of these potential future technologies or paths in isolation or neglect of their own potential, but rather to provide context on their utility and potential in relation to one another using the metaverse as a foundation.

For whatever opinion one may have of the potential or viability of the metaverse, it represents a profound consolidation of deeply human factors relating to identity, ownership, embodiment, socialization, and consumption. It's potentially as grand as a technological mirror for the entirety of the human experience. If it feels silly to base nothing less than the future of the internet on something as frivolous as gaming, it's worthwhile to note that we've learned much about epidemiology3 and corporate subterfuge4 from MMO games. Even the ways human biases can be activated (as noted earlier) have been studied by something as simple as virtual avatars in games spaces.5 However, what is often lost in the various conversations around the metaverse is that the very pieces of fiction that have lit our imaginations towards building a future that includes these virtual worlds describe them as … not very awesome places. Not entirely unlike the broader world of gaming, some know‐how and understanding can potentially go a long way to building and integrating with these developing futures in a smart and safe way.

Windows to New Worlds: Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality

To the same extent that the depictions of gaming noted above tend to all gravitate towards the concept of virtual worlds, virtual reality (VR) headsets and peripherals have long been described as the de facto window to these worlds. In some respects, the concepts of “VR” and “metaverse” have become synonymous in the ongoing discourse concerned with the future of the internet. Not entirely unlike gaming, even the most future‐facing technologies such as VR have long histories, in this case one that can be traced back nearly as far as the concept of recording images has existed more generally. From stenographic pictures in the early 1800s to flight simulators in the early 1900s, using technology to alter our perceptions of reality and bring forth the feeling that we are immersed in a world not our own has a long history.

The first head‐mounted display that conforms more to our expectations of modern virtual reality can be fairly credited to Morton Heilig's Telesphere Mask in the 1960s, though once again modern fiction did much of the lifting to bring the concept to a wider audience, such as Stephen King's Lawnmower Man in 1992.6 It was around this same time that consumer applications in gaming began to pick up steam, ranging from the ill‐fated Nintendo Virtual Boy7 to more recent entrants such as Oculus (notably owned by Facebook/Meta). However, despite the occasionally hyperbolic claims attached to these technologies among marketers and technologists, adoption remains relatively low. As recently as October 2021 the install rate of VR headsets on popular PC gaming platform Steam was just 1.85 percent.8

Though adoption of VR continues to expand,9 the relative malaise around VR among game players is due to a number of important factors to consider. First, these headsets come at considerable cost and often require a powerful gaming PC or console to facilitate the experience (outside of offerings such as the Oculus Quest series of headsets by Facebook/Meta, which is a standalone VR system). Second, the number of gaming titles that require VR, particularly for big gaming franchises, is relatively low. Third and perhaps most importantly, for the most part, VR technology as it exists now doesn't always provide a better experience than what can be experienced on a flat screen. While technological layers such as VR can greatly enhance our capability to establish spatial presence/immersion in a game,10 they are not strictly necessary—smart design and comparatively better‐fidelity visuals on highly tuned gaming monitors or TVs can provide enough visual detail to facilitate deep spatial presence. More simply, the ROI for using often expensive and cumbersome gear just isn't high enough relative to the game experience pay‐out, at least as it stands now.

Related concepts such as augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) present different, less all‐encompassing (and therefore, less burdensome from a technology standpoint) ways in which virtualization of worlds can be achieved. AR allows for an augmented technological layer to be placed in real time across the real world via images, graphics, sounds, or other media that are accessible via viewing devices such as a phone (Snapchat has a deep bench of “cameras” and “lenses” that implement AR features) or specialized glasses. From allowing for fitness stats to be viewed in our fields of vision during exercise11 to dragons landing on the Flatiron building as an innovative marketing stunt,12 AR doesn't create entire virtual worlds for individuals to navigate so much as introduce virtual elements to the real world.

Mixed reality is a more nuanced take on AR. This technology falls a little closer on the continuum to VR, in that virtual elements are overlaid on the real world that interact with the user and the real world around the virtual element. Pokémon Go is perhaps the most famous example of mixed reality, in which players traverse the real world to capture Pokémon superimposed on real locations through their mobile phones, and combated them with other Pokémon at “gyms” geo‐anchored to locations in the real world.

The advantage that AR and MR have relative to VR (there are other acronyms we could throw in here for fun if these three aren't enough, including XR or “extended reality,” which is a bit of an umbrella term for the core concepts here) is that they overcome the primary adoption barrier to VR—they are readily and easily accessible through more affordable or ubiquitous devices. Does that mean that the future of VR is to become more like AR or MR? Not quite—these technologies serve very distinct potential use cases. The more likely scenario is continued convergence towards:

  1. VR experiences that are cheaper, which include a large library of content, and require less cumbersome and higher‐quality gear (in terms of the fidelity of visuals, reliance on outside technology such as PCs or consoles, etc.) than what is currently available.
  2. AR and MR experiences that continue to hinge on ubiquitous technology but provide more valuable experiences to the end user (e.g., reasons to view an environment via AR that serve some utility).

If the metaverse is to be a virtual world experienced via VR, the same challenge to VR tech today must be posed—what value can the consumer extract from the experience that is better than a flat screen to justify the more obtrusive technological layer? AR and MR may serve as steppingstones for more mainstream consumers not acquainted with the comparatively more complex and specialized equipment for VR, though either way the potential for our everyday lives to include complete or partial technological overlays is gaining increased momentum.

One of the more considerable precursors for wider VR adoption noted above is allowing for usage of these devices without reliance on an outside device such as a PC or console to render the complex 3D visuals that typify VR. The potential to “outsource” heavy computational tasks from local devices therefore has immense ramifications for VR, if not gaming more generally. The emergence of cloud gaming and improvements in mobile high‐speed internet provide a viable path to a solution.

A Game for Every Screen: Cloud and 5G

Casual games brought millions into gaming through two important factors: game play design and sensibilities that were appealing to audiences beyond “traditional” game fans, and the prevalence of these games on ubiquitous devices such as mobile phones. One of the key threads running through any discussion of metaverse and related technologies such as VR/AR is that the relative value that these technologies provide must be considered in relation to the barriers of entry for the experience. In this way, cloud gaming and the potential for high‐speed mobile data provide an important solve for many current and future game experiences in that they theoretically allow for complex experiences common to more traditional games (or, say, a 3D‐rendered metaverse) to basically any viewing screen or device.

The underlying technologies are complex, but the idea is simple—cloud gaming offloads to a server the heavy computational lifting required to (say) render a 3D environment rather than requiring a local device (a phone, computer, or game console) be powerful enough to render the experience. In theory, game experiences that might have otherwise required an expensive and specialized game console or high‐end PC can be played on any given mobile phone or other internet‐connected device (smart TVs, etc.).

Like VR, the concept of cloud gaming isn't new. Ill‐fated endeavors such as OnLive attempted to crack the cloud gaming problem upwards of a decade ago.13 Even more recent endeavors such as Google's Stadia will encounter a myriad of challenging technical issues to create a seamless game experience,14 but much of the core challenges relate to access to high‐speed internet. Unlike countries such as South Korea, the United States has somewhat lagged (pun intended) in the proliferation of high‐speed internet.15 This represents a challenge to existing infrastructure that is partially solved by mobile internet technologies such as 5G.

Intuitively enough, 5G stands for the “fifth generation” of mobile data networks. This developing generation of mobile internet is noteworthy as it is the first that has the potential to match or beat comparable “high speed” internet via traditional internet providers, (though with eventual plans to reach significantly faster speeds).16 For applications in the home, it allows for high‐speed internet in areas that were previously not able to be serviced due to poor or nonexistent infrastructure. This technology also enables similar experiences to, in theory, be available outside of the home given that it is mobile, broadcast internet. The applications for AR and MR as technologies that currently have high utilization outside the home and “on the go” is obvious. Beyond that, the fact that our working definition of “casual” games, as in ones that have enough flexibility to be weaved into opportune moments of everyday life, can be expanded to include virtually any game type on a mobile phone (or other devices capable to tapping into 5G) is significant, insofar that almost any game experience has the potential to be “casual” by allowing for any game experience to be accessed virtually anywhere. This has knock‐on effects such as improving the viability and scale of the budding mobile esports scene17 (in itself an exciting future direction for gaming and esports), but also the feasibility of bringing complex 3D environments à la most visions of the metaverse to every home (or where applicable outside of the home, everywhere).

The rise of gaming and esports owes much to the proliferation of the consumer internet. As the availability and quality of this access expands so too will the potential for gaming experiences. In the near term, this allows for exciting possibilities regarding the ease in accessing extremely rich gaming experiences (and potentially competing within them). Further on, the normalization of complex virtualized environments across essentially any device is likely an important milestone for the increased virtualization of our everyday life via the metaverse and related technologies.

Cloud technologies combined with 5G are about the future of accessing digital experiences, untethered by the hardware constraints of personal devices. As noted above, the metaverse as a concept is often wedded to a future “Web 3.0,” which is similarly untethered, though in this case from centralized brokers of information such as “walled garden” social networks or game services. One of the paths towards the future that is emerging the quickest, and has the most bearing on gaming, is the relationship between blockchain and digital ownership.

Unblocking Value: Blockchain and NFT

All the technologies addressed here, because they are future looking, are rapidly changing. The world of blockchain, and in particular non‐fungible tokens (NFTs) or blockchain games are some that stand apart by shifting seemingly day by day. This is in no small part due to the community‐based nature of development within blockchain (decentralization is, after all, entirely the point) coupled with the bullish projections on both gaming and cryptocurrencies at the time this book was written. The result is that a discussion of any specific project or emerging trend will be folly, and as such we'll concentrate on broader trends.

To the uninitiated, the blockchain represents a digital ledger where ownership of goods and information can be independently verified instead of relying on any given brokering person or organization to verify (such as a bank, in the case of currencies). As it pertains to gaming, the utilization of cryptocurrencies both for more traditional game transactions or as the de facto currency of the metaverse are some of the most direct applications of blockchain technology. However, either potentiality has less overall impact on the trajectory of gaming as it pertains to design or distribution so much as giving game transactions or game‐adjacent economies a wider berth of currencies (aside from traditional money). A more fundamental shift in game design and the composition of game audiences comes from the potential of NFTs and a related game paradigm called “play to earn.”

NFTs are a reasonably complex topic that we won't do justice to here in a few paragraphs, so at the risk of being overly simplistic their main draw in gaming is that they allow a means of ownership of digital assets that can be asserted outside of a centralized ecosystem (e.g., the server of an individual game or service), thereby allowing for the asset to be potentially monetized and resold beyond the confines of a game system, and/or allowing for recurrent income through resale of the asset. More simply, though ownership of digital assets has long existed in the world of gaming (such as the licenses to games or other “items,” which are tradable on platforms like Steam), the intervention of NFTs is that the ownership of the asset isn't confined to any given server or platform, and therefore “real value” can be extracted.

While this is a promising future where game play allows for more tangible financial benefits to players, it's also rife with a number of challenges at this time.18 First and foremost is interoperability between systems—yes, one might be able to extract an item out of a given game environment or ecosystem, but can that same item actually be used or carry value within another system? How do game designers balance a nearly infinite array of items with varying power levels and aesthetics? Various efforts such as Loot (for adventurers)19 or Forte20 are attempting to create shared protocols and platforms to ease the process of game development around NFTs, though this will remain an incredibly tricky technological and design problem for some time. Interoperability is also a significant challenge for the metaverse more generally—the internet as it exists now relies on a series of shared languages and protocols that have not, as it stands, been established for the metaverse or Web 3.0 (though various game engines have been proposed as a starting point, which we will discuss at the close of this chapter).

One of the areas within the broader gaming landscape where NFTs have picked up the most traction is in the proliferation of NFT‐enabled “play to earn” games. As the name entails, these are games where earning real money (often in the form of cryptocurrencies) can come through the course of game play. Not unlike ownership of digital items, the potential to earn money through games is not necessarily new—grey or black market activities such as “gold farming” (where individuals accrue game currencies to sell back to players for real money)21 in MMOs like World of Warcraft has been an issue as long as internet‐connected games have existed. The MMO Entropia was among the first to incorporate legitimate earnings within the core game play,22 though the application of cryptocurrency as the monetary system allows for significantly more flexibility from a regulatory standpoint than games like Entropia that leverage traditional currency.

The primary benefit of NFTs and blockchain in gaming, in theory, is that it allows for players to extract real value and (also in theory) a more equitable relationship between players and publishers. This too, at least in its current form, is not without challenges—not the least of which is the deep amount of cynicism towards these technologies from traditional game fans. An announcement that hinted at NFT functionality in the gaming‐centric chat platform Discord was met with what amounted to open revolt.23 The overt focus on commercialization and earning from games has yielded a scenario where, as this time, most NFT games aren't really compelling games so much as microeconomic simulators that come quite close to the much‐derided concept of “pay to win” games (where a player with a big bankroll can accrue a material advantage over another).24

That said, we've already addressed the problems with gate keeping among the traditional “gamer” community in earlier chapters. The pushback in this case may not amount to much if, not unlike mobile “casual” games, these “play to earn” titles are merely expanding the scope of gaming and the definition of a game fan. It may even be the case that NFT‐enabled play‐to‐earn games create a new mechanism for professionalization in gaming apart from performative channels such as esports or streaming. In other words, blockchain and NFTs may simply be a new, differentiated, and parallel classification of games built around the design freedoms blockchain affords beyond the current model of game production, and a new caste of game players where professionalization (earning) is more embedded in the play experience than simple leisure.

While the core concept of a Web 3.0 is built around decentralization that is largely facilitated by blockchain, the immediate applications to the metaverse by means of increased and differential systems of digital ownership are noteworthy. While a path is presented in terms of how to make ownership of digital items flexible and transferable, it also brings to light one of the core problems related to a concept like the metaverse—how to have assets and items render and work between innumerable virtual worlds built by innumerable different actors. The challenges vs. the potential of these technologies, relative to the value that they can provide to consumers, will continue to be the central point of contention for the future of these technologies both within gaming and as it pertains to the metaverse, a concept that we will return to again in closing.

Ready Player You: Conclusions and Implications

The future of gaming is thus one that potentially involves increased adoption of interfaces that allow deeper immersion à la VR, are decentralized and contain flexible and enduring ownership of digital goods, and ride on the crest of extremely fast data speeds where complex computational tasks are carried out via “cloud” servers rather than by localized environments. The sum of these parts equates to a whole that is very close to the emerging concept of the metaverse—a virtual 3D world that can be traversed not entirely unlike a VR game, which replaces much of what we understand to be the internet as it exists today.

Quite a leap. However, while the conversation around metaverse and related technologies has spiked, the reality of this vision is almost certainly still decades away. What currently exists as the “metaverse” today is largely (you guessed it) game environments—Roblox, Fortnite, and other semipersistent virtual worlds are the current exemplars and sandboxes for what may emerge as the metaverse. Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite and the Unreal game engine (which may be one of the unifying infrastructures of the metaverse) has already created a bold vision for what the metaverse should be.25 As a result, the conversation around the importance of metaverse has raised the stakes for truly understanding gaming, although the hype carries the risk of eager marketers and decision makers glossing over this important step (not including you, dear reader, assuming you've made it this far … and have presumably not skipped all the other chapters in this book).

The risks associated with wanton, albeit uniformed, enthusiasm is quite high. John Carmack (the same Carmack that revolutionized PC gaming, was one of the fathers of DOOM, and subsequently became the CTO of Oculus) warns of “architectural astronauts” who will wax eloquent about possibilities without understanding how any of the underlying technologies actually work.26 If you pick up a few ideas from this book, let one of them be that when John Carmack says something about gaming or virtual worlds, we'd do well to listen.

However, before we broach anything as grand as an actual metaverse, we'll see a number of advancements along the lines of the technologies discussed here. As noted, we'll see increasingly large groupings of technology companies become more invested in gaming, either for the sake of creating games themselves or buttressing their capabilities for creating virtual worlds. Most notably in the world of entertainment, Netflix made good on disclosure that it was games like Fortnite that were their biggest competitor rather than HBO, based on the amount of attention being monopolized by games such as Fortnite, by getting into gaming themselves.27

In this respect, the near future of gaming is … more gaming. However, gaming and its antecedents are quickly becoming formative to foundational ways in which humans can interrelate and share information in the future. Understanding these worlds and these audiences will become the differentiator between businesses that make this transition successfully vs. those that fail, or at the very least those that can separate fact from fiction.

Notes

  1. 1. Barbara Ortutay, “In the Middle of a Crisis, Facebook Inc. Renames Itself Meta,” AP News, October 28, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/facebook-meta-mark-zuckerberg-technology-business-5ad543ab7780caae435935f0aca9fac6.
  2. 2. Kevin Roose, “Facebook Is Now a Mobile Company,” Intelligencer, January 30, 2013, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2013/01/facebook-is-now-a-mobile-company.html.
  3. 3. Jhaan Elker, “World of Warcraft Experienced a Pandemic in 2015: That Experience May Help Coronavirus Researchers,” The Washington Post, April 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2020/04/09/world-warcraft-experienced-pandemic-2005-that-experience-may-help-coronavirus-researchers.
  4. 4. Michael Casey, “Real Economist Learns from Virtual World,” Wall Street Journal, June 21, 2010, https://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-REB-10618.
  5. 5. Nick Yee and Jeremy Bailenson, “The Proteus Effect: The Effect of Transformed Self-Representation on Behavior,” Human Communication Research 33 (2007): 271–290, https://stanfordvr.com/mm/2007/yee-proteus-effect.pdf.
  6. 6. “History of Virtual Reality,” Virtual Reality Society, 2017, https://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/history.html.
  7. 7. Graham Flanagan, “The Incredible Story of the ‘Virtual Boy’—Nintendo's VR Headset from 1995 That Failed Spectacularly,” Business Insider, March 26, 2018, https://www.businessinsider.com/nintendo-virtual-boy-reality-3d-video-games-super-mario-2018-3.
  8. 8. Steam Hardware Survey, October 2021, https://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey.
  9. 9. Noah Smith, “Virtual Reality Is Starting to See Actual Gains in Games,” Washington Post, February 4, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2021/02/04/virtual-reality-future-games.
  10. 10. Jamie Madigan, Getting Gamers: The Psychology of Video Games and Their Impact on the People Who Play Them (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), 134.
  11. 11. Patrick Liu, “How Augmented Reality Will Transform the Fitness Industry,” TechCrunch, https://techcrunch.com/sponsor/photonlens/how-augmented-reality-will-transform-the-fitness-industry.
  12. 12. Todd Spangler, “‘Game of Thrones’ Ice Dragon Lands on NYC's Flatiron Building in New Snapchat Lens (Watch),” Variety, April 12, 2019, https://variety.com/2019/digital/news/game-of-thrones-snapchat-dragon-flatiron-building-1203186788/.
  13. 13. Sean Hollister, “OnLive Lost: How the Paradise of Streaming Games Was Undone by One Man's Ego,” The Verge, August 28, 2012, https://www.theverge.com/2012/8/28/3274739/onlive-report.
  14. 14. J. P. Mangalindan, “Cloud Gaming's History of False Starts and Promising Reboots,” Polygon, October 15, 2020. https://www.polygon.com/features/2020/10/15/21499273/cloud-gaming-history-onlive-stadia-google.
  15. 15. Linda Poon, “There Are Far More Americans Without Broadband Access than Previously Thought,” Bloomberg CityLab, February 19, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-19/where-the-u-s-underestimates-the-digital-divide.
  16. 16. Trey Paul, “5G Home Internet Might Be the Solution to Your Broadband Needs,” CNet, January 5, 2020, https://www.cnet.com/home/internet/what-is-5g-home-internet.
  17. 17. Tom Daniels, “The Explosive Growth of Mobile Esports,” Esports Insider, November 1, 2021, https://esportsinsider.com/2021/11/esj9-mobile-esports-growth.
  18. 18. Jason Schreier, “Blockchain in Gaming Is All the Rage for No Good Reason,” Bloomberg, November 12, 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2021-11-12/crypto-in-video-games-is-all-the-rage-but-why.
  19. 19. Andrew Hayward, “What Is Loot? The Surging Ethereum NFT Role-Playing Phenomenon,” Decrypt, September 3, 2021, https://decrypt.co/80108/what-is-loot-ethereum-nft-role-playing-phenonemon.
  20. 20. Dean Takahashi, “Forte Raises $725M for Compliant Blockchain Gaming Platform,” Venture Beat, November 12, 2021, https://venturebeat.com/2021/11/12/forte-raises-725m-for-compliant-blockchain-gaming-platform.
  21. 21. “Remembering the Wild West Era of Videogame Gold Farming,” Wired, March 4, 2017, https://www.wired.com/2017/03/geeks-guide-gold-farming.
  22. 22. Alexis Ong, “Before Blockchains and NFTs, There Was the Real-Cash MMO Entropia Universe,” PC Gamer, November 6, 2021, https://www.pcgamer.com/before-blockchain-and-nfts-there-was-the-real-cash-mmo-entropia-universe.
  23. 23. Taylor Hatmaker, “Discord Pushes Pause on Exploring Crypto and NFTs amidst User Backlash,” TechCrunch, November 10, 2021, https://techcrunch.com/2021/11/10/discord-nfts-crypto-jason-citron.
  24. 24. Jonathan Stringfield, “For the Love of the Loot: Blockchain, The Metaverse and Gaming's Blind Spot,” TechCrunch, September 16, 2021, https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/16/for-the-love-of-the-loot-blockchain-the-metaverse-and-gamings-blind-spot.
  25. 25. Gene Park, “Epic Games Believes the Internet Is Broken: This Is Their Blueprint to Fix It,” Washington Post, September 28, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2021/09/28/epic-fortnite-metaverse-facebook.
  26. 26. Kyle Orland, “John Carmack Issues Some Words of Warning for Meta and Its Metaverse Plans,” Ars Technica, October 29, 2021, https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2021/10/john-carmack-sounds-a-skeptical-note-over-metas-metaverse-plans.
  27. 27. Brian Fung, “Netflix: Fortnite Is a Bigger Rival than HBO,” Washington Post, January 18, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/01/18/netflix-fortnite-is-bigger-rival-than-hbo.
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