Since Facebook rebranded itself as Meta last year, the idea of a commercial metaverse has taken off and taken over the public consciousness. Yet, as the new digital frontier remains in its infancy, many netizens have been left wondering what it will look like and what a metaverse even is. If you’ve been stumped over the idea of a metaverse, we’re here to clear things up.
In the simplest of terms, the metaverse is a shared, virtual space that people can inhabit and interact with. This space is not bound by the laws of physics, allowing people to explore, create, and experiment in ways that would be impossible in the real world. The metaverse is constantly evolving and expanding as people add new content and experiences.
In this brief overview, we’ll dive into the complexities of the metaverse and explore how this new digital realm has quickly evolved over the past few years. Considering that the metaverse could soon become the standard online experience, now’s the time to get on board.
Defining the Metaverse
The term “metaverse” was first coined in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in his science fiction novel Snow Crash. In the book, the metaverse is described as a 3D virtual world that people can enter and interact with. Like the metaverse illustrated in his book, our modern real-world version is constantly expanding as new members join and add to the digital landscape.
However, unlike the 1992 novel, the current iteration of the metaverse doesn’t exist as a singular entity. Instead, it’s more of an amalgam of platforms serving the needs of niche markets. For example, Facebook’s rebrand was meant to signal its entrance into the social media metaverse market.
While the metaverse is still in its early stages, there are already a few different types of metaverses that have emerged. Here’s a quick overview of the most popular metaverses:
- Social media metaverses – The most popular type of metaverse is the social media metaverse. This is where people can connect with others, share content, and interact in a variety of ways. The most popular social media metaverses include Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.
- Gaming metaverses – Gaming metaverses are virtual worlds where people can play games, interact with others, and explore new worlds. The most popular gaming metaverses include Fortnite, World of Warcraft, and Minecraft.
- Educational metaverses – Educational metaverses are virtual spaces where people can learn, collaborate, and create. The most popular educational metaverses include Google Classroom, Blackboard, and Canvas.
- Business metaverses – Business metaverses are virtual spaces where people can work, collaborate, and connect with others. The most popular business metaverses include Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams.
Keep in mind, though, that most of these platforms have not yet developed their metaverses into fully functioning 3D realms, as described in Snow Crash. We’re still a few years away from that level of interaction but Facebook has been vocal about its ongoing work towards a public 3D domain.
What Will the Metaverse Mean for Online Interactions?
Although we are only witnessing the birth of the metaverse, it’s already projected to revolutionize the ways we interact online. As the metaverse continues to grow and evolve, it will have a profound impact on the digital landscape around us. It will likely provide a more immersive and interactive social experience by connecting people across the world through avatars, digital representatives, and a variety of other ways.
Additionally, the metaverse will lead to the creation of more engaging content as creators strive to stand out in an increasingly crowded online landscape. We will likely see a rise in interactive content, including AR and VR experiences. This will drive technological advancements and speed the rate at which tech firms overcome the uncanny valley—the point at which non-human depictions appear believably real.
Most importantly, though, the metaverse will provide new and innovative ways to connect with other people. As a digital landscape, the metaverse is free from the laws of physics, granting unbelievable opportunities to do what would otherwise be impossible in the real world. For example, once the metaverse has been populated with engaging landscapes and worlds, you could literally leap from planet to planet with your friends.
When Will the Metaverse Become Readily Accessible?
Surprisingly, Microsoft and Facebook are already in the process of releasing the groundwork for the metaverse platforms. Don’t expect a fully-formed 3D world, though. The metaverse will take several years to become anything reminiscent of an interactive digital realm and we likely won’t see a publicly accessible version until the latter half of the decade.
Nevertheless, some of the most innovative and talented minds are working day-to-day to bring this extraordinary creation to life.
The metaverse is a constantly evolving digital landscape that will revolutionize the way we interact online. It may still be in its early stages, but we can expect it to grow rapidly over the next few years and provide new and innovative ways to connect with others, create content, and explore the world around us.