The Metaverse continues to gain traction with each passing day, and it’s not just developers and companies taking notice. Indeed, entire countries are looking to gain the advantage and be at the bleeding edge of the Metaverse’s development. As such, universities all over the world are beginning to look into courses on Web3 and the Metaverse. Recently the Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology in China allegedly decided to change the name of its Information Engineering Department to the Metaverse Engineering Department. In other words, they claim to have established the world’s first metaverse major. Does this mean that China is looking to lead the way in the Metaverse? Let’s find out!
A Chinese Metaverse Major?
OK, so I’ve found several reports all claiming that the Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology has made this name change after 25 years, but that’s all according to a local news report that everyone seems to have cited. I tried my best to corroborate this by going directly to their website (which I have to tell you is horrendous and very difficult to navigate), and I couldn’t actually find any kind of official announcement or information about the course itself. I even checked Twitter and couldn’t find anything particularly compelling from anyone, just journalists all saying the same thing and citing the same report. So either I’m doing a terrible job here, this isn’t actually happening, or information is still coming. The only article I could find that gives any kind of information is from The South China Morning Post and written by Xinmei Shen:
According to the school’s homepage, it offers just two majors – Information Engineering and AI. As of Tuesday, the webpage had not been updated with any information about the metaverse major. The Nanjing university, which did not make any public announcement on the name change, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
So color me skeptical, but this doesn’t feel very official and definitely veers more on the sensational…or you know, just saying stuff for the sake of it. I’m not going to talk about journalistic integrity or thoroughness (and perhaps I am guilty of this since I can’t really find any other primary sources), but I am going to point out that you shouldn’t just believe everything you read. The prospect of a Chinese Metaverse Major is indeed interesting, but until some more information surfaces (and until NUIST overhauls their absolutely terrible website), I wouldn’t hold my breath.
So China Doesn’t Care About the Metaverse After All?
Well I wouldn’t go so far as to intimate that. In an article appearing on Asia Financial , it seems that there are plenty of Chinese companies all vying for their piece of the proverbial metaverse pie. Now of course that doesn’t mean that China itself wants to dominate the Metaverse, but it also doesn’t mean it’s uninterested in it. We’re talking huge money with the Metaverse, and according to the same report, Morgan Stanley estimates that this market will eventually be worth $8 trillion USD in China alone.
With a market valuation that high, China could well be the world leader in the Metaverse. And let’s be honest, China has a population of 1.4 billion people and ties to countries all over the world. They have the ability to corner the market and be the largest player in the game. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I’m not so sure. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of China’s politics and censorship as the latter alone is in direct opposition to the ideals of Web3 and an open metaverse. Moreover, China has plenty of competition, and with companies like Meta already actively working to dominate the Metaverse, they certainly have their work cut out for them.
Oh yeah, and China really likes to tightly regulate companies, so in most cases, this stifles innovation and development since local businesses have to jump through several fiery hoops to get the job done. Add to this the fact that the Chinese government views the Metaverse as a major threat to national security, and you can already see their bid to be market leaders is already off to a bad start before it’s even really kicked off. As long as tech companies have to acquiesce to the demands of politicians, I don’t think Chinese companies will be able to reasonably compete with their foreign counterparts. However, I’ve been wrong in the past, and if Morgan Stanley forecasts such a huge market valuation, then maybe I’m just not looking far enough ahead…
There’s Plenty of Local Interest
I’ve no doubt that there are plenty of Chinese citizens who are interested and deeply involved in Web3 and the Metaverse, and I’ve no doubt that their curiosity will continue to grow as tech develops and adoption increases. We may still be several years away from the realization of a replete, immersive metaverse, but we’re definitely on the way, and investment from companies all over the world is already substantial.
Just how far China will go with their involvement in the Metaverse is a matter of speculation, but if local companies can overcome the odds, they could find themselves as some of the biggest names in the Metaverse. This isn’t something that’s a passing phase or that’s going away. Indeed, the Metaverse is here to stay, and its development will depend on the involvement of people and organizations from all over the world.
So what do you think of Chinese involvement in the Metaverse? Will they be major players in the years to come? Or do they not stand a chance against already established foreign companies? Let us know your thoughts!