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The Metaverse, Video Gaming, and Criminal Virtual Currency Transacting


For the past 30 years, the internet had grabbed the world by storm. The birth of a concept in which everyone could communicate, and interact with each other, within seconds became reality. It revolutionized mail, communications, infrastructure, and life in general. In 1992, science fiction writer Neal Stephenson wrote the novel Snow Crash. In this book, there was a coined term, “metaverse,” which was a three-dimensional space, virtually encased in its own universe. Human users or players could enter this space via goggles, and would become a character, to interact with the other “avatars” and/or NPCs or Non-Playable Characters.[1] There is a very good to almost definite possibility, that criminal elements, are utilizing metaverse technology to conduct their business, under the radar of law enforcement and regulators.

Before Snow Crash there was the movie, Tron, in 1982, and several other works of fiction. These depicted virtual worlds, but nothing “coined” the term that would lead to today’s immersive future and motivated a technological revolution. In the next ten years, technology was catching up to the capabilities of Stephenson’s vision. Blockchain was also rearing its head out of the clouds. Blockchain, or “a distributed database that is shared among the nodes of a computer network”[2] was a concept that nobody predicted would have taken off. Most notably, proof of work, and conceptualization of a cyber currency mining based on a computer’s power was being developed.[3]

In the early 2000’s, the video games Roblox and World of Warcraft were created and allowed players to create content for other players in the games. Roblox had a marketing scheme providing “a global platform that brings people together through play.”[4] World of Warcraft started developing their “gold economy” in game. This laid out the fusion of closed digital currencies, and video gaming. Closed digital currencies are different from cryptocurrencies in the fashion that they are housed in their own ecosystem, and technically “cannot be used as a legal tender in business transactions.”[5] Technically was used very loosely for a reason, as users found ways around this dilemma.

Shortly after in 2009, Bitcoin became popular and took the financial world by storm. The “blockchain” slowly started to become mainstream.[6] Bitcoin though, was an open digital currency, and “can be exchanged for real cash because it has a determinable value.”[7] This caught a lot of governments by surprise, but still brushed off the progression of the idea.

Around 2011, Ernest Cline wrote a work of fiction called Ready Player One, which created an evolution of the metaverse concept in terms of technology, and utilization of the universe. The book would mold the current view of what was possible. With bitcoin picking up steam, new forms of cryptocurrency were being crafted and born. Of those assets, NFT or Non-Fungible Tokens were devised in 2012. NFT represented a unique item, instead of one currency or token. The first virtual reality “space” was created in 2015 with the advent of Decentraland.[8] It was a proof of work concept that gave “land” to investors or players.

In the same year of 2015, Smart Contracts, or as Nick Szabo in the early 1990’s coined, “a set of promises, specified in digital form, including protocols within which the parties perform on these promises” became an intricate part of Ethereum blockchain, an Altcoin, or anything other than Bitcoin.[9] This would be the final ingredient for the evolution of gaming and generating income in the metaverse.

After 2016, decentralized currencies and markets became mainstream. Decentralized means that it “enables investors to deal directly with ea