The metaverse: a virtual world where users share experiences and interact in real-time within simulated scenarios. The term’s introduction in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash is almost stuff of legend among the tech community. However, other pieces of literature – some more widely known than others – have toyed with the concept since then. By analyzing these pieces of work, we may gain insights into what a real-life metaverse will eventually look like. Spoilers ahead!
Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, 1992
The Metaverse in Snow Crash is a virtual reality-based successor to the internet. It is accessed through terminals that project a high-quality feed onto a user’s goggles. Users appear in the Metaverse as avatars of any form but cannot be taller than the user is in real life. There are also public terminals that are lower quality, and which present their user’s avatar in grainy black-and-white. There is a subculture of people who choose to remain continuously connected to the Metaverse, nicknamed “gargoyles”.
The Metaverse is a black, perfectly spherical planet with a single hundred-meter-wide road, the Street, running around the planet’s 65,536 km (216 km) circumference. Virtual real estate is owned by the Global Multimedia Protocol Group and can be bought to develop buildings. Essentially, the closer to the Street the real estate, the more expensive it is.