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Metauni is a growing community of scholars in the Metaverse, based on a 3D virtual environment provided by Roblox, location-specific voice chat using Discord and tools such as whiteboards scripted in Luau. Access is possible on PC, Mac, iOS, Android and in VR.

Quick start: install Roblox and Discord, join the TRS Discord, message !register John123 in the #registration channel where John123 is your Roblox username, and enter the metauni Hub. See the instructions for more.

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Yet it is not these gifts, nor the most determined ambition combined with irresistible will-power, that enables one to surmount the “invisible yet formidable boundaries” that encircle our universe. Only innocence can surmount them, which mere knowledge doesn’t even take into account, in those moments when we find ourselves able to listen to things, totally and intensely absorbed in child’s play – Alexander Grothendieck

Subscribe to the mailing list for notifications. If you want to see something right now check out the talking boards in LC001 or climb the knot in The Rising Sea.

metauni Day

We meet each Thursday for half a day of seminars (times are AEDT).

To join put yourself in the General voice channel in the TRS Discord, enter the metauni Hub and click the “Join now” button on the What’s On board. If this is your first time you might find the instructions useful.

Videos from previous weeks:

See the events page for past events.

Why metauni?

We started running events in Roblox in 2020 due to COVID lockdowns in Melbourne, Australia. To our surprise we found that we actually enjoyed it, especially as compared to events in Zoom. It still isn’t clear to us exactly why it is better, but here are some ideas:

  1. Creative Expression. The ability to manifest your own will, creatively, in a shared space makes it feel real. This feeling of reality buttresses the rest of the experience. Creative acts range from the individual and simple (demonstrating your attention by following the speaker between boards, or saying “thanks” to the speaker by writing it in fancy colours on your personal board) to the social and complex (see the Pillars Incident).

  2. No Video. In Zoom the feeling of co-presence is based on being able to see other people’s faces. This is better than lecturing to a blank screen, but it is also exhausting. In a 3D environment you get a sense of other people paying attention to what is going on, without having to constantly see their faces and your own.

  3. Play is Serious. When unexpected things happen (red bouncy chairs, people abducting you in a floating boat, personal board climbing, etc) and they are fun, it reinforces a sense of shared experience and refills our “I want to be here” tank for a while. It seems that for virtual events to work, this mix of “serious” content and play needs to be carefully managed to keep these tanks nonempty.

I really keenly feel that the 3d world adds a new dimension to the social interaction (since you are fixed in space in Zoom, I guess it actually adds three new dimensions). Just the fact that I can stand next to someone, even without saying a word, is a kind of connection that is really lacking in Zoom. Roblox events feel much more socially natural to me than video calls do (even without video). Imagine an in-person meeting, but instead of being free to move physically, you are strapped into a chair with your head facing forward. All of the other attendees have the same constraints. You proceed to inject your discussion into one another. That’s what Zoom feels like in comparison to Roblox. – a student

Roblox is a utility platform for large-scale 3D social environments (see Baszucki keynote and their SEC S-1 filing). We chose Roblox because of its massive user base and accessibility on a wide array of platforms (43 million daily active users as of early 2021) and user-friendly tooling supported by many tutorials (Roblox Studio). It’s remarkable that you can deploy an attractive 3D world with 100 simultaneous multiplayer users for free, in minutes, from your laptop. While you can make ugly things with Roblox, you can make beautiful things too.

Metauni is inspired by the Free University of Berlin and Lianda.

History

Current contributors are Daniel Murfet starsonthars, Billy Price, James Clift and Lucas Cantor HeadOfMusic.

Music in the Rising Sea node: