“Field Notes from the Metaverse” will be a book that documents the history, perspectives, and narratives of the metaverse. This blog documents the writing of the book, provides additional context & materials, and allows you to add your own voice.

Jon “NEVERDIE” Jacobs has been at the frontline of pioneering virtual worlds for over two decades. In 2005, he was entered in the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest price ever paid for a virtual item, acquiring the “Asteroid Space Resort” in Project Entropia. Jacobs developed the property into a stadium, shopping center, and bio-domes, as well as a nightclub called “CLUB NEVERDIE”. In 2010, Jacobs sold the assets to various other players & investors for a total of US$635,000.

Working with major Hollywood studios to bring pop culture to virtual worlds, Jacobs launched Planet Rocktropia in 2010. As a pop culture-themed virtual world, it hosted movie-inspired events and destinations, including “Hunt The Thing,” and an epic “King Kong” adventure, as well as musical experiences such as Lemmy’s Castle, designed by the late rock icon Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead.

In 2016, Jacobs was elected the first President of Virtual Reality, vowing to create millions of jobs in virtual reality during his initial 4-Year term in office.

Recently, Jacobs has handed over Planet Rocktropia to Mindark, the Swedish developer of Entropia Universe, and is looking forward to enjoying virtual worlds “purely from the standpoint of a player again.”

I sat down with Jon to talk about discovering and entering the earliest virtual worlds, his time as a virtual club owner and operator of a virtual world, and his views on virtual worlds and the Metaverse in general.

The Economic Opportunities in Virtual Worlds

Dirk Songuer: Jon, thank you so much for taking the time, I really appreciate it.

Jon Jacobs: My pleasure, my pleasure.

Dirk Songuer: Before you entered the Metaverse space, you already were an independent filmmaker and actor. How did you get into computer games and virtual worlds?

Jon Jacobs: I started off in London as an actor. I had decided that I wanted to act in movies, but in the early1980s there weren’t a lot of film opportunities. Therefore, I started to make my own films. I also had an interest in science fiction, fantasy, mythology, so I started writing my own stuff to act in.

During this period I first heard about a game called Wizardry by a company called Sir-Tech Software. Previously I had played a few games on something called the ZX-81, especially a game called Escape from Colditz. These were the first role-playing games, and they were text-based. But Wizardry had very rudimentary graphics. It would use sort-of cubic illustrations to move through a dungeon. And it really gave you the sense that you were moving.

You know, I was young, and I found them highly compelling. And I think it was the roleplay aspect that tied in with being an aspiring actor. These games gave you the ability to live out a fantasy in your computer, to be the hero of an adventure. And because of that I’ve made a very strong connection between the two of them. For a minute I loved it so much that I asked myself if I wanted to make games myself.

In the end, I wanted to be an actor, but these computer games still possessed me.

Dirk Songuer: How did you get from single player RPGs to multiplayer virtual worlds?

Jon Jacobs: During the next 15 years I was always a broke. I moved to Hollywood, made a couple of micro-budget indie movies, but I would not really have any money to go out. So, I would stay at home and progressively play every RPG that came out. I went from Wizardry to the Ultima series and so on.

In the mid 1990s, I connected to a BBS and discovered my first MUD. It was called Tele-Arena, a text-based MUD developed by Sean Ferrel. There I was, in Miami, broke, and writing a screenplay. I entered this dungeon, and I remember it very clearly, the system suddenly wrote: “[Nails enters from the left]

I said: “Hi!” They said: “Hi!

And it was just mind blowing to me. To have been playing in these single player RPGs for all these years, and then suddenly another human being steps into that fully developed fantasy environment in my head.

Dirk Songuer: Since you were already writing a screenplay, did that feel like somebody was stepping into your story?

Jon Jacobs: Yes, very much like that. It was very powerful.

Unfortunately, I was in Miami but connected to a BBS in New York. Back in the 1990s, you paid by the minute and long-distance calls were very expensive. So basically, I ran up a $1000 phone bill while still being broke. And because of the financial cost that I was incurring to play this game, I started to wish that the in-game gold pieces were real.

I mean, I am playing a game that revolves around collecting money, and yet the money is not real? But wait a minute, there are other people in here. Why can’t the gold be real? That’s when I had this massive epiphany, literally. I broke out into this cold sweat as I thought about it. This gold could be real. I knew the World Wide Web was coming, it was already buzzing, and I started thinking about what would happen if there were a lot of people starting to play in these worlds.

The impact seemed enormous. I calculated the potential value of gold in virtual worlds, and I realized this was a billion-dollar economy. Somehow, I managed to finish my screenplay and move back from Miami to LA to talk about the movie.

But I also started telling people about the potential of online worlds that could exist. And suddenly I got financed by the lighting director of Pink Floyd.  He was all excited about multimedia experiences on CD-ROMS at the time. He got the money, and we hired Sean Ferrel, the developer of Tele-Arena, to create a graphical update to the original game and make it playable on the Web. We also got represented by Stefanie Henning of ICM Partners,

At some point they connected us to Electronic Arts. When I told them my idea to build a real cash economy, they said: “Oh, we’re already building it!” They were starting with a closed simulated economy, which eventually became Ultima Online. We were both trying to do things, but from different ends of the playing field.

Eventually, Stefanie connected us and got funding by a company called Engage Online. Their idea was to create an online gaming hub, which was way, way ahead of its time. Sean ended up moving to LA and the thing went into production. But they didn’t want to have a real cash component. They just wanted to make an MMO and I lost interest. I’m not a game developer. The exciting thing to me was the economic potential of this virtual world, not the technical challenges of building these things.

At the same time I managed to get my indie movie financed where I was supposed to be playing a wizard. So, I just went off and made my movie. It was 1994 when I had the epiphany, and in 1997 I was out again, making my film.

Dirk Songuer: Did you still keep an eye on online games while you were making it?

Jon Jacobs: When I came back from the movie, EverQuest had hit the market and changed everything. Holy shit, it was fantastic, right? I mean, I came from text-based RPGs and then MUDs, 2D graphics, and now suddenly everything was in 3D! I loved it!

But the real key was that suddenly people were trading their virtual goods on eBay. Their items had this monetary value. I went: “I knew it! There is economic value in virtual worlds!” At that point I was spending all day and night playing EverQuest. I asked myself: How could I possibly justify putting all this time into it, being so addicted? So, I wrote a screenplay about it.

My working title was “Role Player”. The script was set in 2010 and it was about the most famous gamer in the world called NEVERDIE. He would go into these online worlds to find precious and beautiful treasures and then sell them on eBay for millions of dollars. A company approached him that was spending a billion dollars to develop the most advanced virtual world ever. And they hire NEVERDIE and his team of six of the best gamers in the world to beta-test it. And of course the game is so immersive that they get sucked into it and it becomes this grand adventure. I’m sure you can imagine the story.

But I had written it way too big. This wasn’t a $5 million indie movie; it was a full $80 million blockbuster instead. I couldn’t get it made.

Dirk Songuer: How did you get introduced to Entropia Universe?

Jon Jacobs: I was still talking a lot about the potential of people trading things online. Meanwhile, it was also the beginning of the Dotcom boom. At some point, I met Ilia Lekach. He threw some money at me, and we created a company called ProRPG, which was a hub for trading virtual goods, virtual banking, and professional roleplay.

This is when I heard about Entropia Universe, or rather Project Entropia as it was called back then. I read a little article in PC Gamer magazine, which featured a list of 10 upcoming MMOs. And the number 10 or something was a tiny thumbnail of “Project Entropia – a virtual world with a built-in cash economy.” And I thought: “Oh my God, they’re building a virtual world with a real-world economy!

Everybody else was building virtual worlds where the economies were taking place outside, on eBay or other third-party platforms. And that caused customer service problems and all kinds of other issues. I immediately reached out to MindArk, the developers of Project Entropia, which was in Alpha at that point. I started sending them emails saying how this was the greatest discovery since America! But before we could do something together through ProRPG, the Dotcom bubble burst, I didn’t get any more money, and the whole thing came down.

I did get into the Alpha of Project Entropia, though. And when it was time to create my avatar, I just named it NEVERDIE.

Dirk Songuer: Back then, did you already think that you would be able to “work” in Project Entropia?

Jon Jacobs: I really believed in the potential. Not because of what I was seeing inside their game, but because I understood the direction it was going. The game was still in Alpha after all, and even later in Beta it was very rudimentary.  So much so that I remember being unsure if this was really the right call. I was passionate and telling people about it, but also second guessing myself at the same time.

Dirk Songuer: Reading about the game, Project Entropia started out more like a traditional science fiction MMORPG, with a backstory, character classes and skills, and so on.

Jon Jacobs: Yes. And it was still empty at the time.

In real life I was broke again. I was living in Miami, starring in a movie called Hey DJ. During that time I played a lot of Project Entropia, and because I was one of the first people in the game, I acquired all the good items. Although I’m not a great player in the “hardcore gamer” sense. I just loved exploring the world.

Meanwhile, MindArk started having trouble after they went gold. They were not getting the adoption they wanted, they were not blowing up. In my head, I still wanted to make a movie out of NEVERDIE, so I wanted them to be successful. And so I recorded a song called Gamer Chick about my fiancé who was also playing the game. I was recording songs for my DJ movie anyway, and one day I just started singing about her playing the game.

Dirk Songuer: The song ended up in Project Entropia, right?

Jon Jacobs: MindArk was having a little trouble and they said: “Well, why don’t you come and see us since you’re so excited about our game?” I went out there and said: “I don’t think you’re marketing Project Entropia correctly.” For example, they weren’t acknowledging what the community made. My song was blowing up in the game’s forums, so why not put it in the game? Pay me for the rights, play it on in-game jukeboxes and let people download it. They thought about it an said: “Ok, we’ll do that, but we won’t pay you for it,” which I thought was a bit odd for a game with a real-world economy.

I agreed to do it anyway because I was just excited for people to hear my song. But most of all I thought the marketing was off because they were trying to compete with games. They were marketing it as an MMO. And the reality is that they couldn’t compete with the big AAA studios and their budgets. It wasn’t an MMO, it was an economy.

I thought that you needed to create an opportunity for people. You needed to create land ownership. That’s what America did, where people could come to America, get 40 acres and a mule, and make their own destiny. Stop selling it as a game and start selling the opportunity to stake your claim in a new world! And that’s why I wrote that email earlier that Project Entropia was the greatest discovery since America.

Dirk Songuer: People should be able to get property rights?

Jon Jacobs: People were already buying castles and stuff in Ultima Online on eBay, but what I suggested to MindArk was that you need to have a land tax system, which would enable people to own land and then collect a revenue stream based on the hunting and mining activities. And then people could do whatever. I would put a club on there. I’ll bring in DJs from all over the world to entertain the visitors while they’re playing the game.

MindArk liked the idea and they started to build it. But they still built it as a game! They would have these areas of land that the players had to fight over, organizing in war factions and guilds. These guilds would then “own” and control the land for a year, or until the next war. This mechanic was great fun and everything, but it didn’t generate any publicity for them whatsoever. Eventually they went: “Well, that was nice, but your idea didn’t work.

I went: “Dude, that’s not what I told you to do!” and I started describing a concept for an island: Create a piece of actual real estate. Put all these monsters in there. There’s a volcano. There’s a castle. Let people turn the castle into a club or whatever. Then publicize the sale, but not as a game mechanic, but in the real world. Put it on eBay!

MindArk built the island and an auction system like I suggested, and I introduced them to publicists and agencies working in Hollywood to handle the marketing and publicity. And immediately there was a bidding war. I tried to bid on it, sold all my valuables in the game, but I lost. Australian David Storey bought it for $26,500 and it became the first Guiness Book world record for a sale of virtual real estate. It was headline news around the World, front cover of Wired, news on the BBC and so on.

That suddenly triggered the first land rush for virtual real estate.

Dirk Songuer: Did that virtual land rush confirm your views on the concept? Because just one year later you would bid again for a “virtual asteroid space resort” in Project Entropia.

Jon Jacobs: Unfortunately my fiancée passed away that year. I had spent all my items trying to win the auction for Treasure Island, and due to the raised interest in virtual property I couldn’t even buy them back as the prices just went through the roof. The movie also wasn’t going to be a hit compared to the competition at the time. I tried to audition for other things, for example the 2006 Michael Mann adaptation of Miami Vice, but didn’t get any parts. It wasn’t a good time.

And so I was thinking: If I focused on my acting or music, I’d probably be exactly where I am today in a year’s time. But if I focused on virtual reality and Project Entropia, I’ll be on the cutting edge.

After the success of the Treasure Island sale, things plateaued for MindArk. It didn’t keep growing. Second Life instead had really capitalized on the publicity and started to take off. I went back to MindArk and said: “Build me an asteroid. I want an asteroid!” Because I still had the idea of a nightclub that brought in entertainment.

At the time mining on the planet was not fun. You wandered around for hours, dropping mining probes each worth five cents, trying to harvest resources. Nobody’s got time for that. I not only asked for the mining rights, but I also wanted people to be able to build bigger probes, make mining more engaging, harvest resources faster.

Luckily, the real property market was starting to boom, so I was able to refinance my house at the time. They built it and I bought it for $100.000. Remarkably, and it really is a remarkable coincidence given the circumstances, it became a worldwide news story again. There is a BBC News story that that covered it, where I talked about how this would change pop culture.

“Traditionally, a club, theatre or a stadium have been the only live venues where one could have a social experience while listening to and watching top performers. But now, he says, virtual worlds can be an alternative live venue. I truly think that this will be the decade that gaming and virtual reality changes the face of popular culture.”

/ BBC News, “Virtual club to rock pop culture

Dirk Songuer: You already started with the idea for a nightclub, but how did this idea turn into the infamous CLUB NEVERDIE?  

Jon Jacobs: I believed that virtual worlds were this very powerful new medium. I also thought that Second Life was not the right economy model. It was user generated content, but not really ownership, not really a hunter-gatherer economy. I believed in Project Entropia as a Metaverse that provided the right opportunities for people. It was a level playing field.

In Second Life, if you are good with Photoshop, then you can be successful. But that’s not avatar-based, that’s not in the virtual world. In Entropia you could be anybody and build a successful avatar with no other skills than playing in the virtual world. I felt like that was essential to the value of virtual goods, as a means of scarcity. But I remember I was fighting a battle with the media to try to counterbalance the narrative of Second Life.

Anyway, so here I was, trying to build up the NEVERDIE name and brand, so that I could make a movie out of it. And to get there, I was trying to build my own income from this asteroid and events in the nightclub.

When I was making independent films in the 1990s, I would try to get people to the theatre to see them. I went to Sunset Blvd. with my flyers, create stupid ads and put them into newspapers upside down, I talked to the press. I would do all this crazy stuff to try to get people into a movie theatre to see one of my movies. So here I was, trying to get people into my virtual club – it was really the same thing.

Dirk Songuer: You sold the asteroid and the club five years later for a profit to do something even more ambitious and become an official MindArk Planet Partner, effectively creating your own huge world in Entropia.

Jon Jacobs: The game changed a lot during that time. MindArk started porting over the game from the Gamebryo engine to CryEngine 2. They decided that they were going to open the platform to other planets, changing the name to Entropia Universe.

Of course I wanted to participate and have a planet. I wanted to try to bring more people into the game. Their reaction was: “We only want big companies” and I replied: “OK, well, maybe I can get a big company to back this and you let me try it?

I started going to record labels to see if they would be interested in partnering. It was very difficult, but I found a licensing company that had great relationships within the industry. We went to the Estate of Michael Jackson and said that we can make Michael’s dream come true by creating a planet that will be about saving the world. We won’t have guns but doing dance battles instead, and everybody would be running around trying to heal the world. And we got the rights.

But the problem was that it was all just wishful thinking. Entropia Universe lost about half of the users when they moved to from Gamebryo to CryEngine because most people didn’t have the computers to handle the graphics. With half the users gone, it caused a financial implosion in the virtual market.

Even worse for us, developing for the CryEngine was not as turn-key as it really needed to be. It just didn’t allow us to do any of the features we wanted. We were an indie developer, not a AAA studio that can just throw huge amounts of money at the development. And so, everything basically collapsed, and we lost the rights again.

Luckily, we also got the rights from Lemmy Kilmister, the founder and lead singer of Motörhead. He basically said: “Oh yeah, I’ll have a castle in this virtual world!” and we managed to salvage the project into Rocktropia. It wasn’t what I had originally envisioned. I wanted to do something much more expansive, but because I had Lemmy on board the planet initially became about Rock & Roll.

Meanwhile, Universal Pictures also approached us and we did a tie-in with the 2011 remake of The Thing, and later I was able to bring King Kong into Rocktropia. So, for the next 5 years we tried to create a pop culture world in the Metaverse. But it was still very difficult. It was so far ahead of its time. Most people that are into pop culture are not really MMO-people, funnily enough.

Dirk Songuer: How did Rocktropia fit into the overall Entropia Universe since the other planets were based around science fiction settings?

Jon Jacobs: I tried to create the most diverse world and got a lot of hate for it. The average Entropia Universe player didn’t get Rocktropia and some sci-fi purists called it an abomination. But it wasn’t for the existing players, it was for new players.

Ultimately, Entropia Universe didn’t get a lot of big planet developers. Instead, MindArk got a bunch of small studios that had already fallen in love with the platform and wanted to build their own thing. But what really happened was that it became a political nightmare to develop a planet.

I was busy trying to bring new players in. Meanwhile everybody else was just fighting over who’s going to get the next great item drop on their planet. I created something entertaining for new people to own, and then other planets said that they didn’t want certain items on their planet and requested to block them coming from Rocktropia. It undermined the entire value of people grinding to get exciting loot and then showing it around.

It was really interesting. I mean, after five or six years of politics, I felt like we were just replicating the real world with countries and taxes and tariffs. Basically I was failing across the board. I didn’t want to compete with the other planets in creating a grindy sci-fi MMO for the existing user base. And if I attracted new people, I’d lose them because they had nowhere to go after they did my thing. I tried to create events that would keep attracting people, but it wasn’t really sustainable. And so, within these internal politics Rocktropia was problematic. It was toxic.

Dirk Songuer: Why do you think Entropia Universe had such a hard time attracting new players in the first place, even though it had this unique real-world economy?

Jon Jacobs: People that played MMOs and came from Ultima Online, maybe EverQuest, looked at Entropia Universe and then very quickly went to World of Warcraft, because they wanted good gameplay. And the second group that wanted an easy Metaverse went into Second Life and that was it. There never was another successful virtual world besides the dominant ones, because nobody had time to be in more than one. You were so invested in your avatar that you couldn’t really afford to have a second avatar somewhere else. And this was a major learning for me: It’s about your avatar. Instead of having multiple avatars in multiple worlds, you need your one avatar capable of travelling between worlds.

That’s why I championed the concept of Entropia Universe becoming a multi-planet, multi-developer platform: It was all based on the same MMO engine, but with a diverse range of worlds. I felt like we needed someone to connect all these virtual worlds, because otherwise they would all stagnate. We need to create a bridge. And I wanted to fight for avatar rights. So in late 2015, I came up with the idea that I would run for President of Virtual Reality.

MindArk said: “OK, this is an interesting idea. Go right ahead. But you’ve got to get yourself properly elected.” I tried to put together an election the best I could. I encouraged people to run against me, but nobody seriously did. And just like that I became the President.

And of course, I first needed the media to take me seriously. At the time Facebook had bought Oculus, so there was some interest in VR, but nobody wanted to know about it unless Facebook or Oculus were involved. They were not interested in this strange virtual universe with real people trying to make real money and politics. Suddenly it was not virtual reality without Facebook. But I did get some stories out.

My first announcement as the President was that I declared war on Artificial Intelligence. My thinking was that in order to prevent AI from taking everybody’s jobs in virtual worlds, we needed to develop the virtual economy to offer alternatives.

“Humanity must keep pace with Artificial Intelligence as it’s essential to replace the jobs that are being lost. We can only win the first battle by acting fast and investing in virtual infrastructure to create new jobs. Through wide adoption of avatar skills as currency and a unified commitment to a secure global virtual goods marketplace, we can instantly disrupt the multibillion dollar video game industry to the point where people will choose the games to play based upon how much they can earn for their time and skills playing. This model will lead to massive increase in the GNP of Virtual Reality Worlds and fuel the trillion-dollar VR industry, ultimately benefiting developers, users and investors alike.”

/ Jon Jacobs, “First Official Action – A Declaration of War on Artificial Intelligence

For Entropia Universe, I also said that I was going to build a teleportation system to connect their virtual worlds to other MMO’s, so that people can transport their avatars from one platform to the next and keep their valuables and items intact. The gamification of this teleportation system would create the jobs and pay for the investment. I went to MindArk as the President of Virtual Reality and laid out all these plans. How I would monetize the system, how that would create jobs, how that would grow the platform. And they said no.

Basically MindArk blocked me the moment I became the President, and I couldn’t do a damn thing. I spent another six or seven months holding off the press while trying to see if I could make it happen. But I couldn’t. The management and other partners thought it was all too problematic for their platform. And so, we had a fallout.

Dirk Songuer: Was that the end of the presidency?

Jon Jacobs: No. During that time Ethereum started to really evolve into a thing.

The first time I ever heard about it was an article in the International Business Times where they talked about Club Neverdie and how Ethereum would enable players to trade their items independent from the game. This was still in 2016, very early for Ethereum, and I called the International Business Times as the President of VR. We started having a conversation and they ended up connecting me with people that were developing on Ethereum.

Crazily enough my teleportation system was a blueprint for the tokenization of virtual items. And I thought that we could raise billions of dollars to do it. This is before anybody really knew what you could do with Ethereum in virtual worlds. I didn’t even make the connection, only when I fell out with MindArk and worked with Ethereum people. So I thought, damn, I’m going to have to do it myself. I’m going to create a token to raise money to build my own platform. It will be decentralized to avoid management or partners messing it all up. And of course, the avatars would own everything.

I basically spent the next six months putting together the NEVERDIE coin and the teleport token. I thought I was late, but I was actually right on time. I managed to launch a successful ICO right at the beginning of the 2017 crypto craze and raised some money. With that I started immediately developing a platform that would use multiple tokens. For example, teleport tokens to get around, but also strength tokens and charisma tokens. I created every token that could represent an attribute or a skill in an MMO on the Ethereum blockchain. Basically, I wanted to use the Ethereum blockchain as the database for my platform.

Then I created a game called Dragon King that started the whole platform off. You teleport in, you have a knight, and you hunt a dragon. If you kill it, you get a strength token or something. Over time your avatar gets all these abilities and things, and with the blockchain you can take them to other games. Once I had all that I went back to MindArk and told them: “I’m right! This can work! Let me do the teleport system!” But there was so much controversy with crypto at the time, with regulations kicking in, so MindArk didn’t want anything to do with it back then.

So I launched my game and started promoting it around the world to demonstrate what was possible with blockchains. It all worked, but I don’t think people realized what it was or why I thought it was so important. And then I got caught in the crash, the 2018 crypto winter wiped me out, wiped everything out. And the bills for developing t all were crazy. The whole thing went into hibernation. I couldn’t fully launch the platform, and I couldn’t do anything with Rocktropia anymore. My studio was down. The politics were problematic. I couldn’t do the kind of marketing that I needed to do. It just wasn’t happening.

Dirk Songuer: But you still had all these assets. What happened to Rocktropia after that?

Jon Jacobs: Well, the COVID pandemic hit, and everybody flocked to online worlds. That really brought back Entropia Universe, proving again the value of these economies. That was incredibly encouraging.

MindArk decided to upgrade their engine again to Unreal Engine 5 and to go all in on AI. With all that I still think it’s the greatest Metaverse platform. I still had Rocktropia, but I just haven’t been able to do anything with it. So, recently I decided to get out. I told MindArk that they could take over the planet. That way they wouldn’t need to fight with me for things that they didn’t want to implement. You can have my planet, but I’m going to become a gamer again. My avatar NEVERDIE is 22 years old, I believe I can do more to champion Entropia Universe as my avatar than as a planet developer.

Dirk Songuer: You had your epiphany about the real-world value of virtual worlds in the mid-1990s, so about 30 years ago. You have been fighting to make it a reality for almost as long. What do you think are your biggest learnings in trying to create your vision of the Metaverse?

Jon Jacobs: Well, if we talk about the Metaverse, there are some things that I believe are critical.

First, there need to be jobs in the Metaverse.

I mean, look, I was a broke filmmaker. The only place I could get a job was at Starbucks. OK, for real, I’ve made a little bit of money on my movies from time to time. But the only place I made real money was running a virtual nightclub on a virtual asteroid. I mean, you know, that was an actual income. It was actually much more profitable than developing a planet.

I reaped the benefits of being a gamer in a virtual world. And of course, there are altruistic motives and then you have practical motives, right? I wanted more people to discover the Metaverse, because I wanted my nightclub to be more successful. But at the same time there is something exciting about seeing other people succeed around you. I think it’s important to acknowledge both.

One of the last things that I did as President of VR was to create a job system on Rocktropia. People can earn a guaranteed pay of around $10 per month by hunting AI bots for a couple of hours. It’s not much, but is has been running for six years, and it works. Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe that we need to pay people. People need to have jobs in the Metaverse to adopt it as a thing.

It’s not about play to earn. And not about pay to win. It’s about getting paid to play. I will pay you to play a specific thing. We need to provide people with a real financial opportunity. And at the center of that economy is allowing them to move from experience to experience, from planet to planet, from virtual world to virtual world.

That’s still the idea of the teleportation tokens. Such a teleportation system will connect people to the jobs. And that for me is the future of the Metaverse. It would be my attempt to populate the Metaverse. And, you know, I do believe that Meta with Oculus and Instagram, and virtual content creators, and people trading cryptocurrencies, I believe that’s all part of the Metaverse. It’s not quite the one that people envision as the “Immersive Metaverse”, but these are all people that exist in a digital environment and make money from it. The Metaverse has become gigantic already.

And it really needs to be one economy. That was my ambition, and even though I was always failing to the next level, it hasn’t occurred yet. If the “Immersive Metaverse” could be scaled successfully, this is the correct model.

It’s the one that I’ve been fighting for. I would love to see it. I’d love to see a billion people being able to step inside a three-dimensional environment, participate in a hunter-gatherer economy with others, and all the opportunity and the value that this creates.

Dirk Songuer: There is still one lingering question, shining through all of that: Is the NEVERDIE movie still a thing? Because though all of that, you never stopped being a successful filmmaker and actor.

Jon Jacobs: It’s so funny, because all of this started off as fiction. I’ve written various fictional scripts right that that and I’ve just never been crazy about it. Then it all came true. And now I started to come up with a new story:

“NEVERDIE, the burned-out President of Virtual Reality that was replaced by AI. He’s divorced, his daughter is living with him. And just as he decides to retire on a derelict asteroid, the AI goes rogue.”


So, I have all these new stories that come to mind and I’m still trying to do it all, yes. NEVERDIE will never die.

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