How will death exist in Metaverse and Web3?

How will death exist in Metaverse and Web3?

Athena / Pixel

Source: Athena / Pixel

The concept of death, memory and memory is being actively transformed by virtual space. Many have experienced the death of friends, loved ones or the public and left an online digital trace of their lives.

Social media profiles have become a place to gather, mourn and remember those who have passed away. Digital profiles, avatars and one’s online presence are now part of a larger digital legacy. How will death exist in Metaverse and Web3?

Death as being banned from the network

A recent meme from Twitter and Reddit criticizing Meta (formerly Facebook) complained that Mark Zuckerberg said, “If you die in Metaverse, you will die in real life.” Meme refers to a dystopic perspective that is socially and economically equivalent to being banned from metavars as “death”.

This meme criticizes a centralized version of Metaverse, where power is concentrated with a handful of owners or operators. (Centralized means the server and user data are owned by the entity or corporation at their own discretion.) Who lives in a network or “dies” (i.e. “prohibited”) is out of the user’s control in this model.

Not all metavers will be centralized, even centralized ones will have different rules, regulations and decision making process. Not the same thing as Metaverse Web3. And as discussed in a roadmap to the many worlds of Metaverse, Metaverse is not a single entity.

Virtual Worlds will also exist as part of Web 3 or Web 3.0, a decentralized Internet built on blockchain and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), which would ideally allow users Own Their own data and digital identity. With the advent of Web3, the ability to plug in users or accounts will no longer be in the hands of a select few. Proponents of Web3 hope that this model will lead to a more democratic Internet where users have more agency and ownership. This means that no single entity can move a user.

However, being banned or removed from a network is the only form of “death”. Designers and developers around the world of Metaverse and Web3 have to contend with how physical and digital death exists in virtual spaces.

How death will be in these virtual spaces can be divided into two different questions:

  1. How to manage a user’s “physical death” digitally? What will happen to the data and accounts of those who died? How will the developers and creators of Metaverse and Web3 affect our relationship with our digital heritage?
  2. How do live users feel “dead” in the virtual space? What would be the experience of a simulated death like a huge multiplayer online game? Would being banned or removed from the network be as important socially or economically as “death”?

Regarding the first question, Metavers’ designers and developers are faced with the complex task of what to do with the inactive accounts of dead users. Social media companies have had to come up with ad hoc solutions to this problem.

Memorable account and inheritance options

In 2006, Facebook offered users the option to commemorate accounts with a “remember” title at the top of their profiles. Users can also choose legacy contacts or, under memorization settings, delete their entire account after death. Instagram accounts can be frozen and remembered, or family members or subsequent relatives may decide to delete the account. Google offers a named legacy identity

In 2019, Twitter announced that they would remove the inactive accounts but then stopped the process following a public response and is working to release memorable accounts. So there is a learning curve to deal with death digitally.

Web3 will also look at how death will affect accounts – what will happen to non-transferable tokens or cryptocurrencies after death? Issues related to transfer and access to digital resources will arise. Digital estate planning will be increasingly important.

In a recent study, “Decentralized Society: Finding Web 3’s Soul,” co-authors Pooja Ohlhaver of Flashbots, Microsoft’s Glenn Weil, and Ethereum’s Vitalic Buterin “Solbound” tokens (SBTs) like a nonfol Has done. Which will represent credentials, membership, and affiliations to establish originality and reputation – a series of live, publicly visible tokens that can be withdrawn by the issuer. Accounts are referred to as “Souls”.

People will have “Souls” that save SBT based on their educational credentials, professional credentials, employment history, or works of art or writing created in their lifetime. Companies and corporations, such as universities or corporations, will issue SBTs to verify a certificate or membership. What will happen to these SBTs after the owner dies?

The rituals of mourning and mourning and remembrance have been actively transformed by technology, and with the change of technology how we live – and how we die will continue to evolve. QR codes have been added to the tombstones to commemorate an augmented reality. 3D and AI holograms preserve the stories of Holocaust survivors for future generations. Dead musicians are taking to the stage in the form of music holograms. Virtual funerals have even been held in the virtual world, including the virtual funeral of a well-known player at the World of Warcraft, which was later raided.

Coming back to the second question: will there be a death experience in the virtual world for live users? How will death be portrayed? What is the emotional impact on the user?

Death in video games and the virtual world

One window of understanding is looking at how death is portrayed in virtual worlds and multiplayer online games. Wanda Gregory, a faculty member at the University of Washington who teaches game design, media studies and UI / UX design, describes death as an important game mechanic and a window into our beliefs and feelings towards death.

Failure to achieve a goal and death to promote feelings of urgency

In games, death can be a symbol of failure to achieve a goal and it is a way to slow down the gameplay and give the player a chance to learn and play again. It’s a way of providing enough challenge and a sense of urgency to achieve the flow. Gregory mentions that even in the Candy Crush game the player is given “life” instead of “turning” to get involved.

Death as reboot or “reset”

Some virtual worlds choose a “death” that has little to no effect on the user. In Second Life, a virtual world that has been in operation since 1992, death is just a reboot. When the avatar does enough damage that the health of the heart goes down to 0 percent, the avatar is teleported to their home location. “Death” is not permanent, and the user will not lose any listings.

Death as a partial resurrection

In some virtual games, death is reported as a partial resurrection. Gregory describes the experience of an earlier version of World of Warcraft, where after the death of the avatar, the player has the choice to pay the Angel of Death a fee and choose to be resurrected or “exorcised” with less energy. Run “trying to find the body as a soul.

Death as a virtual-of-body experience

A Virtual Reality survey found that giving users a virtual reality immersed experience of death “outside the body” reduced their fear of death. This raises the question of whether near-death or virtual death experiences can change how people perceive mortality. These virtual experiences may vary depending on cultural, religious, or spiritual beliefs. Developers of this experience need to consider the cultural implications and ensure that the experience does not harm or trigger users.

Death as a reflection of mortality
How death is perceived psychologically in virtual spaces is greatly influenced by developers and players. Gregory describes how it became important to keep his avatar alive when he went through cancer treatment. Survival in the game took on new meaning. “As video game players and developers age, the mortality rate is thought of as you get older, how will this change the way you play games and what will you notice in the game?” Gregory asks. As the virtual space evolves, so will our perspectives on death and the digital legacy.

Past Death: Digital Immortality
Eventually, Metavers and Web3 will likely open up more opportunities for digital immortality – a promise that people can exist, develop and communicate in virtual space indefinitely. Some virtual worlds like Somnium Space have offered death elimination and “live forever” mode.

In 2000, Microsoft researchers Gordon Bell and Jim Gray predicted that digital immortality would become a reality in this century. Data and avatars can evolve without the limitations of a physical body.

Part 1: Can there be empathy in Metaverse?

Part 2: Five types of empathy in Metaverse

Part 3: A Roadmap to the Multi-World of Metavers

Copyright © 2022 Marlynn Wei, MD, PLLC

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