There is already a Catalan immersive digital space, or rather a metaverse - since Facebook made that term increasingly popular at the end of last year. Called CatVers, it is a free access virtual platform, which was launched at the start of this week with support from the regional government and the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce.
With this move, the authorities want to present themselves as pioneers in a field that was commonly perceived to be reserved for private-sector visionaries. In the opinion of the developers, Catalan Blockchain Center (CBCat), though, it is pertinent that governments would spearhead the development of this new frontier since their task is to ensure that human rights are respected and protected there.
CatVers is monolingual and only available in Catalan and the organizers behind it don’t hide the fact that its mission is to also preserve Catalan language, identity and culture in the virtual world, the way it happens in the real one.
There are some caveats for users, however. Accessing the metaverse is available to organizations and companies, which share the goals and mission of CatVers. They do need to apply and register through an online form.
Once granted access, they can create rooms and provide access codes to their employees or members so they can have virtual meetings. The metaverse is accessible through any electronic screen device connected to the Internet but is best enjoyed through VR goggles.
Free access will only be available for two months, later on, an “affordable” rate will be introduced. There is also a talk of introducing a virtual currency within the metaverse.
The project has an initial budget of between 10,000 and 20,000 euros, and the organizers hope that it will become "economically sustainable" quickly, saying it is a transformative sector that will change the internet as we know it.
There are plans to create a virtual campus within CatVers later this year, to be used by Catalan universities, as well as art exhibitions and festivals in the following months. Organizers also hope to set up "decentralized governance" of the metaverse, so that it can be run by the groups that sign up.