Page semi-protected


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Avatars socialising in the 2003 virtual world Second Life

A metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection.[1][2][3] In futurism and science fiction, it is often described as a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a single, universal virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual and augmented reality headsets.[4][1]

The term "metaverse" has its origins in the 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash as a portmanteau of "meta" and "universe." Various metaverses have been developed for popular use such as virtual world platforms like Second Life.[5] Some metaverse iterations involve integration between virtual and physical spaces and virtual economies.[1] Demand for increased immersion means metaverse development is often linked to advancing virtual reality technology.[6][7][8]

The term has been used as a buzzword[4][9] to exaggerate development progress of various related technologies and projects for public relations purposes.[10] Information privacy, user addiction, and user safety are concerns within metaverses, stemming from challenges facing the social media and video game industries as a whole.[11][4][12]


Video games

Several components of metaverse technologies have already been developed within modern internet-enabled video games.[5] The 2003 virtual world platform Second Life is often described as the first metaverse,[13][14] as it incorporated many aspects of social media into a persistent three-dimensional world with the user represented as an avatar. Social functions are often an integral feature in many massively multiplayer online games. Technology journalist Clive Thompson has argued that the emergent, social-based gameplay of Minecraft represents an advanced analog of a metaverse.[15] Similar statements were made for the game Roblox,[16][17][18] which has since employed significant usage of the term in marketing.[19] Other claims of developing a metaverse include the games Active Worlds,[20] The Palace, and Fortnite.[21]

Virtual reality

In 2019, the social network company Facebook launched a social VR world called Facebook Horizon.[22] In 2021, Facebook was renamed "Meta Platforms" and its chairman Mark Zuckerberg[23] declared a company commitment to developing a metaverse.[24] Many of the virtual reality technologies advertised by Meta Platforms remain to be developed.[25][26][27] Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen criticised the move, adding that Meta Platforms' continued focus on growth-oriented projects is largely done to the detriment of ensuring safety on their platforms.[28] Meta Platforms has also faced user safety criticism regarding Horizon Worlds due to the occurrence of sexual harassment on the platform.[29][30]

Microsoft acquired the VR company AltspaceVR in 2017,[31] and has since implemented metaverse features such as virtual avatars and meetings held in virtual reality into Microsoft Teams.[32][33]

In 2022, HTC announced its launch of a cross-platform metaverse ecosystem called VIVERSE[34][35], which would allow connections between virtual worlds accessible by both VR and non-VR devices.[36] and supports parental controls for children.[37]

Proposed applications for metaverse technology include improving work productivity,[38][39] interactive learning environments,[11] e-commerce,[11] real estate[11] and fashion.[40]

Other, smaller companies have worked towards creating the metaverse through virtual worlds in the past, such as the video-game VRChat.



Access points for metaverses include general-purpose computers and smartphones, in addition to augmented reality (AR), mixed reality, virtual reality (VR), and virtual world technologies.[7]

Dependence on VR technology has limited metaverse development and wide-scale adoption.[7] Limitations of portable hardware and the need to balance cost and design have caused a lack of high-quality graphics and mobility. Lightweight wireless headsets have struggled to achieve retina display pixel density needed for visual immersion,[41] while higher-performance models are wired and often bulky. Another issue for wide-scale adoption of the technology is cost, with consumer VR headsets ranging in price from $300 to $3500 as of 2022.[6][2]

Current hardware development is focused on overcoming limitations of VR headsets, sensors, and increasing immersion with haptic technology.[42]


There has been no wide-scale adoption of a standardised technical specification for metaverse implementations, and existing implementations rely primarily on proprietary technology. Interoperability is a major concern in metaverse development, stemming from concerns about transparency and privacy.[43] There have been several virtual environment standardisation projects.[44][45][46][47][48][49]

In a January 2022 interview with Wired, Second Life creator Philip Rosedale described metaverses as a three-dimensional Internet that is populated with live people.[50]

Universal Scene Description is a specification for 3D computer graphics interchange created by Pixar and supported by Blender, Apple's Scenekit and Autodesk 3ds Max. The technology company NVIDIA announced in 2021 they would adopt USD for their metaverse development tools.[51]

OpenXR is an open standard for access to virtual and augmented reality devices and experiences. It has been adopted by Microsoft for HoloLens 2,[52] Meta Platforms for the Oculus Quest,[53] and Valve for SteamVR.[54]

Criticism and concerns


In a February 2022 article for The New York Times, Lauren Jackson argued that the metaverse is "stalled from achieving scale by a lack of infrastructure for both hardware and software, a monopolistic approach to platform development, and a lack of clear governance standards." Though others such as Nick Bostrom have argued that future technological developments, such as “more realistic computer graphics” and improvements in artificial intelligence, will continue to incentivize user engagement which will lead to the "normalization" of the metaverse.[55]

In December 2021 Raja Koduri senior vice president of Intel said that "Truly persistent and immersive computing, at scale and accessible by billions of humans in real time, will require even more: a 1,000-times increase in computational efficiency from today’s state of the art."[56]


Information privacy is an area of concern for metaverses because related companies will likely collect users' personal information through interactions and biometric data from wearable virtual and augmented reality devices.[57] Meta Platforms (previously Facebook) is planning on employing targeted advertising within their metaverse, raising further worries related to the spread of misinformation and loss of personal privacy.[4] In 2021, David Reid of Liverpool Hope University argued the amount of data collection in the metaverse would be greater than that on the internet stating "If you think about the amount of data a company could collect on the World Wide Web right now, compared to what it could collect with the metaverse, there is just no comparison."[58]

Addiction and problematic social media use

User addiction and problematic social media use is another concern. Internet addiction disorder, social media, and video game addiction can have mental and physical repercussions over a prolonged period of time, such as depression, anxiety, and various other harms related to having a sedentary lifestyle such as an increased risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease.[12] Experts are also concerned that metaverses could be used as an 'escape' from reality in a similar fashion to existing internet technologies.[57][59]

Metaverses may magnify the social impacts of online echo chambers and digitally alienating spaces[1][60] or abuse common social media engagement strategies to manipulate users with biased content.[60][61]

User safety

Virtual crime like sex abuse and other user safety issues such as harassment are significant challenges with current social virtual reality platforms, and may be similarly prevalent in a metaverse.[62][63][64][65] The potential presence of child predators on metaverse platforms is another concern,[66] along with the potential for worsening child depression and loneliness.[67] In February 2022, investigations by BBC News and The Washington Post found minors engaging in adult activities in applications such as VRChat and Horizon Worlds despite an age requirement of 13 years or older.[68]

Social issues

In 2022, Keza MacDonald of The Guardian criticized the utopianism of technology companies who claim that a metaverse could be a reprieve from worker exploitation, prejudice, and discrimination. MacDonald stated that they would be more positive towards metaverse development if it was not dominated by "companies and disaster capitalists trying to figure out a way to make more money as the real world's resources are dwindling."[69] Marketing professor Andreas Kaplan, citing their experience studying Second Life users, argues that metaverses may have a generally negative societal impact due to their strongly addictive potential.[70]


Snow Crash, 1992

The term metaverse was coined in Neal Stephenson's 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, where humans, as programmable avatars, interact with each other and software agents, in a three-dimensional virtual space that uses the metaphor of the real world.[71] Stephenson used the term to describe a virtual reality-based successor to the internet.[72]

Neal Stephenson's metaverse appears to its users as an urban environment developed along a 100-meter-wide road, called the Street, which spans the entire 65,536 km (216 km) circumference of a featureless, black, perfectly spherical planet. The virtual real estate is owned by the Global Multimedia Protocol Group, a fictional part of the real Association for Computing Machinery, and is available to be bought and buildings developed thereupon.[73]

Users of the metaverse access it through personal terminals that project a high-quality virtual reality display onto goggles worn by the user, or from grainy black and white public terminals in booths. The users experience it from a first-person perspective. Stephenson describes a sub-culture of people choosing to remain continuously connected to the metaverse; they are given the sobriquet "gargoyles" due to their grotesque appearance.[73]

Within the metaverse, individual users appear as avatars of any form, with the sole restriction of height, "to prevent people from walking around a mile high". Transport within the metaverse is limited to analogs of reality by foot or vehicle, such as the monorail that runs the entire length of the Street, stopping at 256 Express Ports, located evenly at 256 km intervals, and Local Ports, one kilometer apart.[73]

Ready Player One, 2011

Ready Player One is a dystopian science fiction franchise created by Ernest Cline which depicts a shared VR landscape called "The OASIS". The first novel was released in 2011, with a 2018 film adaptation, and second novel in 2020. The franchise depicts the year 2045 as being gripped by an energy crisis and global warming, causing widespread social problems and economic stagnation. The primary escape for people is a shared VR landscape called "the OASIS" which is accessed with a VR headset and wired gloves.[74] The OASIS functions both as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game and as a virtual society.[75]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Newton, Casey (2021-07-22). "Mark Zuckerberg is betting Facebook's future on the metaverse". The Verge. Archived from the original on 2021-10-25. Retrieved 2021-10-25.
  2. ^ a b Robertson, Adi (2021-10-04). "What is the metaverse, and do I have to care?". The Verge. Retrieved 2022-03-09.
  3. ^ Clark, Peter Allen (15 November 2021). "What Is the Metaverse and Why Should I Care?". Time. Retrieved 2021-12-29.
  4. ^ a b c d O'Brian, Matt; Chan, Kelvin (28 October 2021). "EXPLAINER: What is the metaverse and how will it work?". ABC News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 4 December 2021. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  5. ^ a b Orland, Kyle (2021-11-07). "So what is "the metaverse," exactly?". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 2021-11-09. Retrieved 2021-11-09.
  6. ^ a b Brown, Dalvin (2021-08-30). "What is the 'metaverse'? Facebook says it's the future of the Internet". Washington Post. Retrieved 2021-11-01.
  7. ^ a b c Antin, Doug (2020-05-05). "The Technology of the Metaverse, It's Not Just VR". The Startup. Archived from the original on 2021-10-25. Retrieved 2021-10-25.
  8. ^ Neiger, Chris. "Virtual reality is too expensive for most people — but that's about to change". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 2021-10-25. Retrieved 2021-10-25.
  9. ^ Fischer, Sarah (16 November 2021). ""Metaverse" is Wall Street's new favorite buzzword". Axios. Archived from the original on 4 December 2021. Retrieved 4 December 2021 – via
  10. ^ Ravenscraft, Eric. "The Metaverse Land Rush Is an Illusion". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2021-12-28.
  11. ^ a b c d Needleman, Sarah E. (2021-10-16). "The Amazing Things You'll Do in the 'Metaverse' and What It Will Take to Get There". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on 2021-10-25. Retrieved 2021-10-25.
  12. ^ a b Rajan, Amala; Nassiri, Nasser; Akre, Vishwesh; Ravikumar, Rejitha; Nabeel, Amal; Buti, Maryam; Salah, Fatima (2018-11-01). "Virtual Reality Gaming Addiction". 2018 Fifth HCT Information Technology Trends (ITT). pp. 358–363. doi:10.1109/CTIT.2018.8649547. ISBN 978-1-5386-7147-4. S2CID 67876446. Archived from the original on 2021-12-07. Retrieved 2021-11-03.
  13. ^ Tidy, Joe (2021-11-05). "Zuckerberg's metaverse: Lessons from Second Life". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2021-11-13. Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  14. ^ Maney, Kevin (2007-02-04). "The king of alter egos is surprisingly humble guy". USA Today. Archived from the original on 2007-02-18. Retrieved 2007-02-20.
  15. ^ Thompson, Clive (2021-11-03). "The Metaverse Is Already Here — It's Minecraft". Debugger. Archived from the original on 2021-11-17. Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  16. ^ "Roblox: How the children's game became a $30bn bet on the Metaverse". BBC News. 2021-03-10. Retrieved 2022-01-09.
  17. ^ Sidhwani, Priyansh (2021-03-12). "The History Of Roblox : From 2004 Until Now". TechStory. Archived from the original on 2021-04-20. Retrieved 2021-11-03.
  18. ^ "Nike gets ahead of the Metaverse and creates 'Nikeland', its own virtual world on Roblox". Archived from the original on 2021-11-26. Retrieved 2021-11-26.
  19. ^ Kastrenakes, Jacob (2020-11-19). "Roblox goes public so that it can build a bigger metaverse". The Verge. Archived from the original on 2021-12-01. Retrieved 2021-12-01.
  20. ^ "Active Worlds for Windows (1995)". MobyGames. Archived from the original on 2021-11-11. Retrieved 2021-11-03.
  21. ^ Webster, Andrew (March 18, 2021). "Fortnite's Experimental Story Is An Attempt To Create 'The Entertainment Experience Of The Future'". The Verge. Archived from the original on May 3, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  22. ^ "Facebook announces Horizon, a VR massive-multiplayer world". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on 2021-12-07. Retrieved 2021-11-03.
  23. ^ Roose, Kevin (2021-10-29). "The Metaverse Is Mark Zuckerberg's Escape Hatch". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2021-10-30. Retrieved 2021-10-30. (subscription required)
  24. ^ Dan Milmo (2021-10-28). "Enter the metaverse: the digital future Mark Zuckerberg is steering us toward". Retrieved 2021-12-13.
  25. ^ Griffin, Andrew (28 October 2021). "Facebook changes name to 'Meta' as it focuses on metaverse and tries to move on from controversies". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 28 October 2021. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  26. ^ "Facebook changes its name to Meta in major rebrand". BBC News. London. 28 October 2021. Archived from the original on 28 October 2021. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  27. ^ Paul, Kari (28 October 2021). "Facebook announces name change to Meta in rebranding effort". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 28 October 2021. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  28. ^ Hamilton, Isobel Asher. "Whistleblower Frances Haugen says Facebook's investment in the 'metaverse' shows how its priorities are all wrong". Business Insider. Retrieved 2021-12-30.
  29. ^ Jones, Stephen. "Meta launched an investigation after a woman said she was groped by a stranger in the metaverse". Business Insider. Retrieved 2021-12-30.
  30. ^ Mahdawi, Arwa (2021-12-18). "Metaverse is just a new venue for the age-old problem of sexual harassment". The Guardian. Retrieved 2021-12-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. ^ "'You can actually feel like you're in the same place': Microsoft Mesh powers shared experiences in mixed reality". Innovation Stories. 2021-03-02. Archived from the original on 2021-11-03. Retrieved 2021-11-03.
  32. ^ Warren, Tom (2021-11-02). "Microsoft Teams enters the metaverse race with 3D avatars and immersive meetings". The Verge. Archived from the original on 2021-11-17. Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  33. ^ Warren, Tom (2021-11-02). "Microsoft Teams enters the metaverse race with 3D avatars and immersive meetings". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-12-24.
  34. ^ "VIVERSE - Open, Secure Metaverse for Any Device User". HTC VIVE.
  35. ^ "HTC unveils its Viverse vision of the metaverse". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  36. ^ "HTC Is Building Its Own Metaverse, Dubbed the Viverse". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  37. ^ "HTC Vive's metaverse vision includes safeguards for children". Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  38. ^ Warren, Tom (2021-11-02). "Microsoft Teams enters the metaverse race with 3D avatars and immersive meetings". The Verge. Archived from the original on 2021-11-03. Retrieved 2021-11-03.
  39. ^ Veronica Combs (2021-10-29). "The metaverse: What is it?". TechRepublic. Archived from the original on 2021-10-31. Retrieved 2021-11-01.
  40. ^ Ginsberg, Brandon (2021-12-21). "Fashion Is Moving Into the Metaverse -- Here's What to Expect". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  41. ^ Rhys Wood (2021-10-14). "This Oculus VR headset could feature lifelike resolution – here's why that matters". TechRadar. Retrieved 2022-01-09.
  42. ^ Lewis, Leo; Davies, Christian; Jung-a, Song (2022-01-05). "Investors gear up for 'gold rush' in metaverse hardware". Financial Times. Retrieved 2022-01-08.
  43. ^ D'Anastasio, Cecilia. "The Metaverse Is Simply Big Tech, but Bigger". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2022-01-08.
  44. ^ "The Metaverse Roadmap". Acceleration Studies Foundation. Archived from the original on 2014-05-17. Retrieved 2011-10-08.
  45. ^ "X3D Specification, ISO/IEC 19775-1:2004 -- Part 1: Architecture and base components". Archived from the original on 2021-11-11. Retrieved 2021-11-03.
  46. ^ "Virtual World Region Agent Protocol (VWRAP)". IETF. Archived from the original on 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2011-10-08.
  47. ^ "Immersive Education Technology Group (IETG)". Media Grid. Archived from the original on 2011-09-08. Retrieved 2011-10-08.
  48. ^ "Immersive Web Working Group". Retrieved 2022-03-01.
  49. ^ "Immersive Web Working Group". Retrieved 2022-03-01.
  50. ^ Edelman, Gilad. "How to Build a Better Metaverse". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2022-01-27.
  51. ^ Caulfield, Brian (2021-04-27). "Universal Scene Description Key to Shared Metaverse, GTC Panelists Say". The Official NVIDIA Blog. Retrieved 2021-12-24.
  52. ^ "OpenXR now available on the Microsoft Store for Windows Mixed Reality". Windows Central. 2019-07-23. Retrieved 2022-01-08.
  53. ^ Heaney, David (2019-09-13). "Oculus Rift Has Hidden Preliminary Support For OpenXR". Retrieved 2022-01-08.
  54. ^ "Steam :: SteamVR :: Introducing SteamVR 1.16". 2021-02-24. Retrieved 2022-01-08.
  55. ^ Jackson, Lauren (2022-02-12). "Is the Metaverse Just Marketing?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-02-17.
  56. ^ "Powering the Metaverse". Intel. Retrieved 2022-02-22.
  57. ^ a b Lee, Lik-Hang; Braud, Tristan; Zhou, Pengyuan; Wang, Lin; Xu, Dianlei; Lin, Zijun; Kumar, Abhishek; Bermejo, Carlos; Hui, Pan (2021-10-11). All One Needs to Know about Metaverse: A Complete Survey on Technological Singularity, Virtual Ecosystem, and Research Agenda. arXiv:2110.05352.
  58. ^ "All news - Liverpool Hope University". Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  59. ^ Evans, Woody (2011). Information Dynamics in Virtual Worlds. Chandos. ISBN 9781780632742. Archived from the original on 2021-12-07. Retrieved 2021-11-13.
  60. ^ a b Shou, Darren. "I Want My Daughter to Live in a Better Metaverse". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Archived from the original on 2021-09-10. Retrieved 2021-11-01.
  61. ^ Peck, Andrew (2020). "A Problem of Amplification: Folklore and Fake News in the Age of Social Media". Journal of American Folklore. 133 (529): 329–351. doi:10.5406/jamerfolk.133.529.0329. ISSN 1535-1882. S2CID 243130538.
  62. ^ "The metaverse has a groping problem already". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  63. ^ Chalmers, David. "What Should Be Considered a Crime in the Metaverse?". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2022-01-28.
  64. ^ "The metaverse has a groping problem already". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2022-03-06.
  65. ^ "Meta Wouldn't Tell Us How It Enforces Its Rules In VR, So We Ran A Test To Find Out". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2022-03-06.
  66. ^ "Kids are flocking to Facebook's 'metaverse.' Experts worry predators will follow". Washington Post. 2022-02-07. Retrieved 2022-02-18.
  67. ^ Jr, Tom Huddleston (2022-01-31). "'This is creating more loneliness': The metaverse could be a serious problem for kids, experts say". CNBC. Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  68. ^ "Metaverse app allows kids into virtual strip clubs". BBC News. 2022-02-23. Retrieved 2022-03-06.
  69. ^ "I've seen the metaverse – and I don't want it". the Guardian. 2022-01-25. Retrieved 2022-01-27.
  70. ^ Kaplan, Andreas (2021-11-02). "Facebook's Metaverse: A nightmare turning into reality?". ESCP. Retrieved 2022-03-10.
  71. ^ Grimshaw, Mark (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Virtuality. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 702. ISBN 9780199826162.
  72. ^ In the acknowledgments section following the text of Snow Crash, Stephenson writes: The words "avatar" (in the sense it is used here) and "Metaverse" are my inventions, which I came up with when I decided that existing words (such as "virtual reality") were simply too awkward to use.
  73. ^ a b c Neal., Stephenson (2007). Snow crash. Rizzoli. ISBN 978-88-17-01682-7. OCLC 799825166.
  74. ^ Grady, Constance (2018-03-26). "The Ready Player One backlash, explained". Vox. Retrieved 2022-01-04.
  75. ^ "Books about metaverse to binge read over Christmas holidays". 24 December 2021. Retrieved 19 February 2022.