Becoming a virtual real estate mogul or a "cyber celebrity" isn’t an occupation that many people dream of but for British native Jon “NEVERDIE” Jacobs, it has become a reality. Jacobs created an avatar character named “NEVERDIE” that has become one of the most notable, if not the most notable name in the virtual world of the "Entropia Universe." In 2008, Jacobs entered the Guinness Book of World Records for owning the most valuable virtual item, and later went on to sell the virtual asteroid space resort for over half a million dollars, yes, that was in real U.S. currency. Jacobs also founded NEVERDIE Studios and got to work with Michael Jackson and the people from the film King Kong to create other virtual worlds for people to enjoy. As if his past achievements weren't enough, Jacobs is now in the running to become the very first president of the virtual world. We asked the virtual entrepreneur about his presidential campaign, NEVERDIE Studios and Virtual Reality.
TH: Can you tell us a bit about the Entropia Universe and your presidential campaign?
JJ: Entropia Universe is a Massive, Multi-Player Online Virtual Reality Universe that includes Space, Planets, Organic and Mineral resources, wildlife, Alien Races, Robots, mythological Creatures, Storylines, Missions, eSports and an Avatar System that requires users to develop their Avatar Skills in order to efficiently engage in the many basic Professions that have systems to support them, including Hunting, Mining, Crafting, Healing, Tailoring, etc.
Creative skills like design and event management do not require Avatar Skills, but real life talent and Skills.
Entropia Universe features cryengine2 Graphics and an extremely Sophisticated Virtual World Real Cash economy that enables users to monetize all of their time in the universe, securely trade in resources, skills, looted and manufactured items and then withdraw the virtual currency back to their real world bank accounts with a fixed exchange rate to the US Dollar.
The Planets in the Universe are all developed by independent developers and have unique themes, Avatars can travel via Player owned Spaceships between the different planets with their skills, most items and currency intact. POPtropia is the Pop culture capital of the Universe that includes Planet ROCKtropia with themed Destinations including Rock Icon Lemmy’s Castle, King Kong, Zombie Kong, Motorhead Stadium and The THING.
Entropia Universe is the first MMORPG Virtual Reality hybrid to provide the players with a legitimate democratic political system so that they can begin to properly determine the future development of the Universe.
The reason I have chosen to run for President of Virtual Reality is because there is so much investment going into VR at the moment, but I see that a lot of the investors and developers aren’t really paying attention to what is really working and what makes Virtual Reality lasting and meaningful. I feel someone needs to stand up and say Hey! Let’s do this Right! Let’s do this together! Let’s do this for the People!
The President of Virtual Reality will be supported by the Entropia Universe economy and coalition members to challenge the world, the tech industry and the gaming industry to find the solutions to the formation of a unified Virtual Reality, that will offer users some of the great opportunities that continue to be possible in Entropia Universe.
Running for President of Virtual Reality is forcing me to really hone in on what I want to Champion for the future. It makes me review my own brand and decide what is the essential NEVERDIE? How do I re-invent myself while also staying true to myself. I decided right away that I have to keep this campaign very creative and daring in order not to lose myself in the message.
For these reasons, I’m choosing to keep music, art, film and performance as an integral part of the campaign while delivering the Message that if everyone works together to create a unified Virtual Reality we will succeed in creating a New World of Opportunity for Humanity, a New Frontier, a viable digital dream that can be pursued by anyone from any country in the world, if they can just find a way to log in. I have actually lived the digital dream for over a decade and shared these types of opportunities with people from around the world, including people in Poor Countries, I have seen lives change for the better, so I'm not championing something far-fetched, but something that exists today that needs to be expanded upon and taken to a much greater level to be all inclusive.
TH: What intrigues you most about virtual reality?
JJ: I find that I lose myself in VR in the same way I can when I watch a great movie, I also find that I can relate to everything in VR as real, I don’t feel like I’m playing a game, I feel like I’m exploring a new frontier and that I can be an adventurer. I find I can project myself into my avatar and experience the virtual world as though it were real. I love the adventures. I like living a fantasy adventure Life. I don’t even need a VR Headset to do that, although being even more immersed is the next step and makes it all the more mind blowing. I love that we can have a real economy in Virtual Reality so that we can actually make a living in there. As a filmmaker and actor I was always up and down financially and took on odd jobs to survive at times. I enjoyed the Jobs, but I enjoy doing Virtual Jobs even More, because they are more exciting. I have been a Barista and a Dragon Slayer, Slaying Dragons makes your heart Pound in a different way to caffeine.
TH: If you were to be elected as President of Virtual Reality, what would you like to accomplish first?
JJ: I want to Unite the Major Tech and Game Developers in creating a Real Economy Virtual Reality platform where you only need to have one Avatar.
I want Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Sony, Mindark, Blizzard, EA, Bioware, Rockstar Steam, and everyone else to all work together on a Monumetal Vision for Virtual Reality. That is my primary goal and I'll focus on whatever the steps are needed to get there.
TH: What was the inspiration for your virtual name “NEVERDIE”?
JJ: Because Dying over and over in Video Games is such a big part of the experience, the idea of a Gamer who managed to NEVERDIE would be extraordinary. I wanted to set the bar very high for myself, interestingly enough as my Virtual Life and Real life have blurred and because there is so much exciting stuff happening in Reality with all the advances in Tech and health and the approaching Singularity I’m also starting to feel that the next great Quest for humanity is also to never die in reality, which I believe is going to be possible for people living today. I tell my friends to get ready to live forever, I’m truly not convinced we are going to die.
TH: How did you create/start NEVERDIE Studios?
JJ: When Mindark decided to open Entropia Universe up to independent developers, I was very excited that I might be able to open up the Virtual World to Pop Culture, so I started talking to everyone in the entertainment industry about the possibilities. I invested money that I had made in Virtual Reality to get things off the ground and private investors funded individual worlds. My background is in film and music so for me the the high points for NEVERDIE Studios is having created destinations for Michael Jackson, Lemmy and King Kong and The Thing.
TH: What are you looking for in the submissions for your Vote NEVERDIE Presidential campaign?
JJ: I want to be inspired by the art, I want it to not only capture the imagination of people who are already excited by Virtual Reality but to ignite the interest of anyone. I would like to see art that touches that part of us that wants to explore and Pioneer and unite for a Cause. I would like to see a fresh spin on classic Political Campaigns as well as Revolutionary Imagery... I wonder what kind art inspired people to journey to America in the 16th and 17th Century, what Kind of art inspired the formation of the United States of America. Space is a New Frontier, but it is further off than Virtual Reality for the masses, but I believe there are a wealth of opportunities in both frontiers. Virtual Reality is now! It could be the answer to many issues, it could help us truly empower the global Community.
My Goal to unite the Major Tech Companies must be fueled by people demanding a united virtual reality. The Art needs to inspire the people to believe that this is a worthwhile dream and that we can make it come true.
TH: What goes on in the different virtual worlds like ROCKtropia, King Kong or Lemmy’s Castle?
JJ: ROCKtropia is a planet where you will not think twice if you see a half-naked Video Vixen riding a Hendrix Dragon or KING KONG Stepping on one of Lemmy's Snaggletooth guardians, or a Streetfighter throwing punches at a Cyber Demon Hacker. To craft virtual goods, instead of mining for ores and oils you mine the planet for genres of rock music and alcoholic cocktails and then using your avatar crafting skills you can combine them with the hides of Motorhead security guards or blood samples from Zombie Kong to make the tools you need in your virtual Life.
TH: How would you promote unity across the different virtual worlds?
JJ: We need to agree on a few fundamentals, for example in the real world it doesn’t matter if you are in France or Germany or the United States or the Middle East, it requires similar skills to safely drive a car, become a doctor, stitch a jacket or craft a basket and it takes a similar amount of time to develop the skills to do those things properly and to some extent you can monetize the skills in the same way in each of those countries. The fact that these skills take a human similar amounts of time to develop regardless of the country, helps to establish a value for time and labor and form the basis for a local and global economy.
In Virtual Reality we need to create certain fundamental laws of the Universe to support balanced skill development and labor, so that we can create interconnected worlds. For example, suppose one company wants to develop a world where the gameplay allows anyone to instantly heal by waving a Magic Wand, in that case the fundamental law would award the avatar very little if any Skill development points for Healing anyone. However, you could still play the magic healing game, it just wouldn't earn you skills on your avatar that you could then go to another world with and suddenly your avatar would be an expert in brain surgery, because then you would devalue the skills of a brain surgeon. However, if in the Magic World it takes a lot of time and Skill development to learn how to fly a magic carpet, then your avatar would maintain a record of those skills and they could perhaps all be applied to flying a helicopter in another world... There are formulas that can be created to keep skill and labor values consistent across all worlds without inhibiting game design. Also if the universal avatar database is independent of individual worlds or platforms, then even if different graphic engines are used by different worlds or platforms the Avatar Skills can be ported from world to world.
If we address the Fundamentals to make such a system work, then the value of the system is that we don’t have to start a new Avatar every time we want to explore a different world and given how immersive virtual reality is becoming it’s not practical to develop multiple avatars in multiple worlds. That would be like saying you can’t visit another country in the real world unless you are born there.
Currently when you visit another country in the real world you are usually on some kind of visitor Visa and not able to Work or interact with the economy except as a consumer... The real world is quite complex when it comes to creating laws to protect and develop local economies... Laws across Virtual Worlds may also be quite complex, even in Entropia Universe the individual Planets have serious economic issues relating to the scarcity or import and export of locally manufactured tools.
But the first Step is a Universal Avatar Database to be utilized by all worlds and then fundamental laws related to skill development, labor and gameplay costs across worlds.
TH: What are your most important presidential stances?
JJ: The right for Avatars to Monetize their time in Virtual Reality. Player Ownership of their Avatar and Property, the same rights as in the Real World. Your Avatar is an extension of your body.
TH: For your potential voters, what 3 words would you use to describe yourself?
JJ: Empathatic; Ardent; Inspired.
Check out the Neverdie Studios Creative Invite and submit your visual assets for Neverdie's Presidential Campaign.