Philip Rosedale talks about VR’s second life with High Fidelity and blockchain
From launching Second Life in 2003 to his new project High Fidelity, Philip Rosedale has always had one clear vision of the future of virtual reality – total immersion in new sights, scenes, and events.
So, taking the learning from Second Life’s success – it was populated by one million users at its peak – the goal for High Fidelity is to employ the blockchain and use VR in ways previously thought impossible.
The challenges for VR
The problem is that video games are incredibly lonely. You can't see the other people around you, and we're social animals.
One of the reasons for the initial failure of VR was it focused predominantly on gaming, which, according to Rosedale, is only a small percentage of what it could be used for.
Providing diverse content, from talks to exhibits and even concerts and conferences are “a killer app for VR”, in his opinion.
“The market for things like that are much larger than gaming, which is where VR has been puttering about for the first couple of years,” he explains.
By generating a greater diversity of content beyond games, Rosedale believes Virtual Reality can become a revolutionary force.
“The global education market is around $5.5 trillion, 55 times the size of the gaming market, so we have our sights on education, travel, and entertainment because they’re hundreds of times larger than just gaming,” he says.
What is High Fidelity?
In this way, the goal for High Fidelity is to enable such experiences.
“High Fidelity is building for the idea that, we’re going to start going to school, attending meetings, going to rock concerts and traveling the world by putting these headsets on,” he says.
Some of the examples of this include the recently hosted talk between Rosedale and Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn, PhD on July 28th.
Some of the recent tests that High Fidelity has been attempting involved expanding the reach of Virtual Reality into other areas, including ancient history.
“Most recently, we’ve been doing this test where we’ve been bringing teachers and their students together, into an Egyptian tomb along with an experienced Egyptologist who is paid to give them a tour of the tomb.”
High Fidelity attempts to have an ‘agnostic’ approach towards VR, giving players the ability to use the platform regardless of their system.
“We’re fully integrated, we work really well on both Oculus and Vive,” Rosedale points out.
“When you see the images from when I was talking to Dr Cogburn last week, she’s in an Oculus Rift headset and I was in a Vive.”
While High Fidelity is already available on a number of VR platforms, Rosedale points out Android’s Daydream headset is on its way to being implemented as well.
“The Android client that we have right now is in alpha, it’s pretty early, so we probably only have a thousand people or something that has downloaded it yet.”
Where blockchain factors into the platform
In conducting both the talk with Dr. Cogburn and an Egyptology lesson for students, High Fidelity is demonstrating the use of blockchain within its platform, operating a digital economy, incentivizing users for providing unique content.
“Our strategy is to create an economic system, a blockchain-based economy, and asset recorder, allowing people to make money in the world,” Rosedale continues.
“Somebody could take advantage of our system to create an educational experience that they could charge money for as a tour, using the blockchain currency.”
One of the advantages that High Fidelity’s blockchain-backed economy has is a lineage of success. Rosedale, in developing Second Life, also created the in-game currency called the ‘Linden Dollar which, since its creation in 2003, has been consistently steady in terms of value in foreign exchange.
Rosedale points out that there is a way to replicate the Linden Dollar’s success for High Fidelity.
Now we’re using EOS, and we find it to work very well in our internal configuration.
“There’s an algorithmic strategy for doing that that’s already been presented by blockchain companies that are doing this, most recent of which was BaseCoin.” Rosedale points out.
“We believe that strategy is the same on we’re going to use as our algorithm for when our economy grows.”
For the individual participating in High Fidelity, the use of blockchain allows for items in the game to become as exchangeable as items in real life, according to Rosedale.
“It drove our strategy of truly giving ownership of things in the virtual world to the people that owned them, rather than claiming that they were our property,” He continues.
“To me, blockchain is the better way to do that and fully deliver on that promise.”
High Fidelity – VR on EOS
While one of the most commonly used blockchains for game development is Ethereum, Rosedale explained why High Fidelity, instead, utilizes EOS for its system.
“We actually started off with the Elements codebase, which is a derivative of Bitcoin, and that worked ok until we ran into issues with scaling which proved fatal,” Rosedale recalls.
“Now we’re using EOS, and we find it to work very well in our internal configuration… To date, the only software we’ve found that works is EOS.”
While Ethereum is used by some of the most popular games on blockchain such as CryptoKitties, Rosedale argued that, with the desire to accommodate a large volume of users, Ethereum would have critical issues with processing the number of transactions.
“Second Life today, with 50,000 people online at once would have 20-25 transactions per second, so even if Ethereum was free, we couldn’t use it.”
Where High Fidelity has the advantage
Along with the experience that comes with launching Second Life, Rosedale believes that the platform has the advantage over other VR blockchain games by being in active use since 2016.
When asked about his opinions on platforms like Decentraland, Rosedale argues that it has the all the makings of a unique experiment and even collaborator.
“Decentraland is a very interesting experiment, it’s very reminiscent of Second Life in a lot of ways.” Rosedale concedes.
“But they haven’t actually built it yet, [meaning] the software that would let you go into that city together, and that’s what our software is promising to do.”
To find out more about High Fidelity, visit its website.