The Free Metaverse

The phrase “the free Metaverse” gets thrown around a lot these days, especially among OpenSimmers.

What does it actually mean?

I’m not sure there is a correct answer to that question. It seems different people have different intentions when they use it. And the phrase hasn’t been around long enough for a universal meaning to have taken over.

Some people use “free” to mean users have natural rights that MUST be recognized by the owners of a grid.

To some, “free” means “open” as in unrestricted. To these people, a closed grid cannot be considered free. The ability to travel from one grid to another would be necessary.

For a lot of people, “free” applies to content and services as in “free of charge.”  Everything should be free. These people don’t think there should be any currency in virtual worlds because there is no need for it.

This last group seems to think that anyone who wants to sell them something is a bad person who is not using virtual worlds appropriately and is infringing upon their natural rights to have everything for free.

Well, sign me up for that last group! In fact, why stop with virtual life? I think everything in real life should be free too. Do away with money. If you make something that I want, you should give me a copy of it. I have a right to it. What? You’re keeping it just for yourself? Who the hell do you think you are?


In RL, I live in a “free country” but that doesn’t mean that all the products or services or land in that country are free.

To me, “the free Metaverse” refers to users having rights and choices, It does not refer to everything being free of cost. I think people who want everything to be free are being silly at best. Selfish and greedy could also apply. Ironic there, as these people think the operators of closed grids are the greedy ones.

Everything is not free. Some things cost money and someone has to pay it. For example, servers cost money. Running a large grid costs money. If these things were not true, then all of those who think they could be doing a better job than Second Life or InWorldz or Kitely would be doing it.

What most of the people who speak out against SL or other closed grids and talk about “the free Metaverse” really are saying is: they want somebody else to pay for it so it’s free for them. They think this is some sort of right.

It’s not.

About Danko Whitfield

writer, explorer of virtual worlds. semi-retired time traveler.
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2 Responses to The Free Metaverse

  1. I couldn’t agree more with you. Expecting others to pay in order for you to have everything for free and not contribute anything back is selfishness, nothing else.

    On the other hand, “free” as in “nobody can restrict my rights and freedoms” is something that comes to my mind when I think about “the free Metaverse”. It’s also “free” enough that I have freedom of choice: even if on some grids I might have my rights restricted, I’m free to join another grid and not lose my content — or create my own grid, and allow people to HG-teleport to it. That’s what I understand as “free”.

    Among all those grids, there will always be a price to pay. In some cases, you pay for the quality of the infrastructure; sometimes, for the quality of the technical support; you pay even for the privilege of having many people developing content you can buy. And, of course, there are plenty of examples where some very generous people are willing to pay out of their pockets in order for you to enjoy accessing their own grids. This is all “free” — freedom of choice, freedom of expression.

    But of course many will see things differently and expect everything on the Metaverse to be free of cost — a bit like the Web, where you can create Facebook and Google+ profiles for “free” (you pay by relinquishing your privacy and personal data to those companies, of course). That’s a reasonable expectation to have, but it’s not a right. Rather, thanks to the universal declaration of human rights, people have the right to earn money for their honest work. Of course they also have the right to work for free for the benefit of others, but that’s not a right, just the expression of someone’s generosity and altruism.


  2. Talla Adam says:

    When I set up Opensim Virtual in Google plus part of the title slogan reads, “From Second Life to the Free Metaverse” which means breaking free from corporate monopoly and taking the opportunity to experience more choices. Thus, I subscribe to the very simple explanation that the “Free” in “Free Metaverse” means freedom of choice and that has nothing to do with everything being free or expecting other people to pay to make it free for me. I have always believed that the free Metaverse should embrace both sharing and commercial trading in services and virtual products. And I do really believe that the Hypergrid section of the Metaverse could build into a huge market for virtual goods. Freedom to share, freedom to trade and freedom to choose.


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