Among virtual places and the words of spatial computing, the concept of the metaverse is truly part of the ABC.
When we talk about the metaverse, we refer to a virtual world where everything is dematerialized and entirely imaginary. The term was coined by writer Neal Stephenson in his novel “Snow Crash” and represented an evolution from the concept of cyberspace invented by William Gibson, the author of the novel “Neuromancer,” considered the progenitor of the cyberpunk genre.
While Gibson’s imagined virtual world was stylized and, in some ways, real (dying in cyberspace meant dying in the real world, so to speak), Stephenson’s metaverse adheres to the current standards of reality: there is no real harm inside it, except within the fiction of a video game.
Metaverse: A multifaceted and ever-evolving concept
We captured an interesting insight from an interview with Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games:
“First of all, no one exactly knows what the Metaverse will be. We have many imaginary references to it. Some parts of it. Most of it has been written before social networks even existed. For the rest, we are improvising and making assumptions about it.
But the Metaverse will be a sort of real-time 3D social media where, instead of sending messages and pictures to each other asynchronously, you are together with them in a virtual world, interacting and having fun experiences that can encompass anything from purely playful experiences to social experiences.
The other critical element of the Metaverse is that it has not been built just by a mega company, right? It will be the work, the creative work of millions of people who can each add their own elements through content creation, programming, and design, to add value.”
The first examples of the metaverse were inevitably video games, but soon non-gaming applications focused on socialization emerged.
The most famous example is Second Life, a virtual world where millions of people can interact. It was created in 1999 to create a metaverse similar to the one depicted in “Snow Crash.” It is still an active project, although it has lost some of its initial appeal after the boom in the early 2000s.
Various experiments have taken place in this world, attracting not only gamers and cyberpunk fans but also companies. Concerts have been held in Second Life, and embassies have been opened (the Maldives being the first in 2007, followed by Sweden, Estonia, and many others). Some have used it to sell products like home furnishings or clothing, and it has even attracted the attention of politicians. For example, Antonio Di Pietro created the headquarters of his political party, Italia dei Valori, in this metaverse.
The metaverse, therefore, is a completely imaginary world that differs from the concept of the mirrorworld, which we will discuss in this article.