The word “Metaverse” is made up of the prefix “meta” (meaning beyond) and the stem “verse” (a backformation from “universe”) This term ‘metaverse’ was coined in by Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, where humans, as avatars interact with each other and software agents, in a three dimensional space that uses the metaphor of the real world

Snow Crash (Novel by Neal Stephenson)
“Snow Crash,” published in 1992, the third, and arguably the best, novel by Neal Stephenson, an American science-fiction author. The book’s main character, named Hiro Protagonist, delivers pizza for the Mafia, which now controls territory in what used to be the United States. When not working, Mr Protagonist plugs into the Metaverse: a networked virtual reality in which people appear as self-designed “avatars” and engage in activities both mundane (conversation, flirting) and extraordinary (sword fights, mercenary espionage). Like the internet, Mr Stephenson’s Metaverse is a collective, interactive endeavour that is always on and is beyond the control of any one person. As in a video game, people inhabit and control characters that move through space.

Inside the Metaverse

Think of it as virtual reality, or a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG), but limitless. People could play games, but they could also talk, shop, stroll, chat, watch movies, attend concerts, shop and do most things that they can do in the real world — and, crucially, the metaverse would interact with the real world in countless unpredictable ways. This fully formed metaverse remains a long way off. But some MMOGs have already shown multiversal tendencies. Reporters Without Borders, an NGO, built a library in Minecraft, an MMOG, containing works censored in the real world. A clip from the most recent Star Wars film had its premiere in Fortnite. In many MMOGs, people spend real money to buy things.

An online virtual world in which there are no specific goals or objectives. A virtual world in which a user creates an avatar and then explores the world as that avatar. Users are able to chat with others in the world and interact with the avatars. Typically an inhabitant can create buildings, clothes, habitats, or any other items they can imagine. Metaverses do not typically have non-player characters (characters that are computer generated). In a metaverse all the characters are tied directly to an actual person.

To Silicon Valley dreamers, this immersive, networked, three-dimensional world will eventually succeed the two-dimensional internet that exists today. if you consider Fortnite’s expansive world, Facebook’s Horizon — a virtual-reality game in beta-testing — and other investments by big tech firms in similar products, not to mention the way that the pandemic has encouraged millions of people to spend their days immersed in online video, the metaverse is closer to reality than it was when Mr Stephenson first dreamed it up.

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