Watching Rocket League in Fortnite was an awesome, dystopian advertisement for the Metaverse

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As I write this I am listening to the play-by-play of the lower quarter final match between The General NRG and Renegades in 2022 rocket league World Championship. I’m listening to the game through the headphones that are plugged into my Xbox controller, because I’m technically playing a game at the same time. Me, as my childhood hero, Indiana Jones, squats next to an action figure avatar of my best friend. My friend lives in Chicago and I live in Los Angeles. I am surrounded by screens, screens within screens. Our characters look at the giant screen in front of them. I hear gunshots in the distance.

Fortnite has hosted many previous events, including an in-game screening of Christopher Nolan Creation, a film about dreams within dreams within dreams. Watching this particular movie from inside a video game was almost too on the nose, diabolical in its cheeky symbolism. Close to Roblox and virtual reality chat, Fortnite showed the most promise for how a metaverse could not only work, but how it could attract enough people to give it a try. For all the money Mark Zuckerberg spends on the promise of the Metaverse, and all the monotonous proselytizing he might do, his vision of the Metaverse being virtual grocery stores and business meetings does not deliver the utopia that will attract enough human beings to give up their lives. physical realities in favor of digital realities.

Fortnite, on the other hand, delivers, and Epic knows it. Its in-game concerts are interactive, psychedelic, multi-sensory art installations, and its live events change the game world, sometimes beyond repair. There’s a sense of life and breath to Fortnite‘s vision of the metaverse that a company led by Zuckerberg may never be able to deliver. Combine that with ubiquitous cultural products like Star Wars superheroes and characters and a game that is willing and able to emulate and improve upon the game mechanics of other series, and you have a digital world that gives a certain kind of player all he could want.

Although I knew all of this, I was not fully prepared to watch the rocket league Indoor World Championship Fortnite. I made my love for rocket league known esports, and I still watch it whenever I can. As good as last season, with its extended schedule and seasonal majors, the 2022 season has been even better, with teams like Moist Esports, Falcons and Furia rising through the ranks and perennial favorites Team BDS and The General NRG coming up. debate throughout the season. progressed. Now the season has almost reached its peak, with the World Championship tournament running until Sunday, and you can watch it all while shooting other players in Fortnite.

Built with Fortnitecreative mode, rocket league event looks like a Dave & Busters. There are televisions everywhere, all playing whatever game is going on on the rocket league World championship stream. You choose the team you prefer to win and go through their portal. You can either watch the match on the big screen in the lobby or step into what is essentially an endless tag team deathmatch as you watch and listen to the rocket league match currently taking place at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, TX. When a team scores, fireworks of the corresponding team’s color light up the game sky.

Part of me can’t get over the sheer awesomeness of the event. Since it’s happening in the middle of August, just before school starts, I pointed out to my friend that if we had this kind of thing during our summer vacation when we were kids, we would never go out. Being able to watch our favorite game while playing one of our other favorite games during summer vacation isn’t even something we could have imagined when we were younger. Something like that would have blown our college spirits.

Yet, as a contemporary adult, this kind of occurrence seems almost commonplace at this point. Of course, no other company really does something like this, at least not as effectively as Epic, but Fortnite has already proven capable of hosting anything it wants, even a digital museum hosting a re-enactment of a historic civil rights march.

Now, I’m no technological reactionary, but the banality is almost shocking. Even though I resist the jargon-filled PR emails and sales pitches for blockchain and Web3 from venture capital vultures that I receive every day, it’s not hard to see why these people see a future where the digital world replaces the physical world. Being able to share the experience of watching pro rocket league matches with my friend while living in completely different cities was a joyous and communal experience, something that is all too rare in my life these days.

Of course, Silicon Valley corporatocrats can only see the metaverse as another free market where every little thing can be commodified, and fair enough. After all, I paid the necessary amount of money to get the season pass so I could pretend to be Indiana Jones. Epic artists leaned on my nostalgia and I immediately gave in. And that’s what scares me so much. It’s so easy to get addicted if I let my guard down, and it’s so commonplace that I shoot other people while participating in this community event.

I spent hours watching rocket league in Fortnite. It’s hours spent looking at a screen that showed me a video game, inside of which was another screen that showed other people looking at their own screens, playing their own games, while shooting others players who did the same.
Digital dreams within digital dreams. Talk about Creation.

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