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Enter the Battleverse: China’s Metaverse War

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Article by CASI's Josh Baughman, originally published in Military Cyber Affairs: Vol. 5 : Iss. 1 , Article 2. available at https://digitalcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1083&context=mca

In China, 2021 was dubbed year one of the metaverse with extensive investment by local government, tech companies, major conferences, and studies all related to the development and future of the metaverse.[i] While there is not one authoritative definition recognized for the metaverse as it continues to evolve and develop, the basic idea is virtualizing and digitizing the real world. Stylianos Mystakidis from the University of Patras, echoes this idea in his definition, “The Metaverse is the post-reality universe, a perpetual and persistent multiuser environment merging physical reality with digital virtuality.”[ii]  Others have referred to it as a “physical Internet where you don’t just watch content, you’re a whole person in it”.[iii]  However the metaverse will come to be defined, it is clear China aims to be a leader in all related tech industries that will serve as the backbone of this emerging technology.

            While most talk of the metaverse deals with civilian use, a growing discussion, particularly in China, has emerged related to potential military application.  In recent articles published in the PLA Daily the authors explore what would be needed to build a separate military metaverse, dubbed the “battleverse”, potential benefits and even possible methods of attack of an adversary’s own metaverse.  Although the metaverse is in its infancy now, degrading or disabling the metaverse could have dire consequences as society and even the military become more integrated and reliant on the technology.