Online worlds where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment, typically supported by VR headsets, chat and video.
This term came to prominence for me and many when Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook touted is as important to the future of the company. A minor distraction to ongoing reputational challenges for Facebook. According to The Verge, Zuckerberg sees the concept of the Metaverse as pivotal to several initiatives across his business, not least the Oculus VR division, explaining that the “overarching goal across all of these initiatives is to help bring the metaverse to life.”
The Verge (2021) Mark in the Metaverse. Facebook’s CEO on why the social network is becoming ‘a metaverse company’. Casey Newton, Jul 22nd, 2021.
Originally, as The Verge notes, the term was first coined in Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel, referring to a convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in a shared online space.
Older readers will remember Second Life, launched in 2003 and briefly much hyped as a forerunner of future Metaverses. This ‘virtual world’ is still active, but peaked with 1 million users in 2013.