The word "metaverse" is often traced to Neal Stephenson's 1992 dystopic, cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, and many see a more recent inspiration in the dazzling warren of experiences at the heart of Earnest Cline's 2011 novel Ready Player One. However, the metaverse is far from the stuff of sci-fi. It's not even new.
Online communities have existed since at least the mid-1980s, and grew in the 1990s with chatrooms, AOL instant messenger and MSN are among the first social media sites with platforms like MySpace that may ring a bell from the past. As the Internet progressed and gaming came into play, World of Warcraft became a persistent social scene for millions in the early 2000s, and communities have continued to sprout up within and around games.
Today, logging onto Fortnite, joining a chat with friends over a console platform and launching into a game with them is, especially to younger generations, just as social an experience as most other physical interactions. The modern day socialising, if you will.
Whether in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) or simply on a screen, the promise of the metaverse is to allow a greater overlap of our digital and physical lives in wealth, socialization, productivity, shopping and entertainment. These two worlds are already interwoven, no headset required: Think about the Uber app telling you via location data how far away the car is. Think about how Netflix gauges what you've watched before to make suggestions. Think about how the LiDAR Scanner on newer iPhones can take a 3D scan of your surroundings. At its core, the metaverse (also known to many as "web3") is an evolution of our current Internet.
With the metaverse in place currently, the possibilities are endless for creators, brands and users alike. The internet has developed far beyond where it has started from, with practicality in different technologies that range from blockchain to Augmented Reality, and even Non-Fungible Tokens. The future is limitless, opening opportunities to exist beyond the limitations of a physical world. Users can now socialise with likeminded communities, learn by playing games and even create art with no physical boundaries.