What Does Metaverse Mean and How Does This Virtual World Work?

In comparison, virtual reality is completely virtual and enhances fictional realities. VR requires a headset device, and users are controlled by the system. Proponents of the metaverse view the concept as the next stage in developing the Internet.

Internet privacy is also an important consideration, and proponents are currently struggling with the question of whether there should be limits for what data can be collected and who it can be shared with. The metaverse contains exciting new applications for education at all levels. There’s probably a reason why fictional touchstones for a metaverse, including Ready Player One and Snow Crash, are set in grim dystopias. “The metaverse is a 3D version of the Internet and computing at large,” Mathew Ball, a venture capitalist and angel investor who’s written a series of essays about the potential and structures of the metaverse, told VICE. So, we got a bunch of experts to break it down for those who still don’t get what the metaverse is all about, AKA most of us.

What Does the Metaverse Mean for Facebook?

The term “metaverse” first appeared in author Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science-fiction novel Snowcrash, which describes a future where millions of people use virtual avatars to participate in a cyberspace realm. This concept was further popularized in another sci-fi novel, Earnest Cline’s 2011 Ready Player One, in which everyday people strap on VR headsets and log into a virtual world to live out their fantasies. The paradox of defining the metaverse is that in order for it to be the future, you have to define away the present. We already have MMOs that are essentially entire virtual worlds, digital concerts, video calls with people from all over the world, online avatars, and commerce platforms. So in order to sell these things as a new vision of the world, there has to be some element of it that’s new.

Zuckerberg has been bullish on the metaverse, believing it could replace the internet as we know it. “The next platform and medium will be even more immersive and embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it, and we call this the metaverse,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg last month after revealing the company’s rebranding. Mixed reality is the integration of real and virtual worlds to create new ways to interact with physical and digital spaces and other users. In mixed reality, you are not solely in the virtual world or entirely in the real world but somewhere along the ‘virtuality continuum’ between the real and virtual environments.

Virtual movement, physical discomfort

Stories about scarce “real estate” in “the metaverse” refer to little more than a buggy video game with virtual land tokens . Niantic is a software developer best known for the augmented reality mobile games Ingress and Pokémon Go. Although this concept may overwhelm some business users, blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies have more benefits than drawbacks.

  • It can include aspects of social media, online gaming, andcryptocurrenciesto allow users to interact.
  • Virtual reality is a simulated experience that’s usually provided by a virtual reality headset that projects realistic images, sounds and other sensations to a user within a virtual environment.
  • The word was coined in a 1992 dystopian sci-fi novel, Snow Crash, written by Neal Stephenson.
  • The word’s increased ubiquity is creating an impending sense of doom, as if, at any moment, our physical lives will be engulfed in corporate pixels and paywalled interactions.
  • Haptics, including gloves, vests and even full-body tracking suits, enable more lifelike interaction with the virtual environment.
  • Similarly, you can make an avatar on the metaverse, which you can bring with you as you visit different domains, platforms or worlds connected to the metaverse network.

These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in oureditorial policy. You could purchase and invest in cryptocurrency, you could invest in companies working on areas of the metaverse, like Meta and Niantic, or invest in an exchange-traded fund that focuses on gaming and technology companies.

Horizon Worlds Metaverse app

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. In 2017, Microsoft acquired the VR company AltspaceVR, and has since implemented virtual avatars and meetings held in virtual reality into Microsoft Teams. Another virtual universe beloved by kids, the Microsoft-owned Minecraft is essentially the digital equivalent of Legos, where players can create their own digital character and build whatever they desire. As of August, Minecraft boasts more than 140 million monthly active users. During the pandemic, it has exploded in popularity among kids who had to rely more heavily on virtual connections.

definition of a metaverse

Think social media as it exists today, but more integrated and immersive. The notion of the metaverse – recently propelled into the mainstream by Facebook’s rebranding as Meta – will transform how we inhabit the world around us. Plus, a single, interoperable metaverse — one that would let users carry their identities and digital collectibles across platforms owned by different companies — would require serious coordination and cooperation between various organizations.

Socializing online

But the term long predates many of the technologies that could actually make it possible. The suffix meta- means “behind or beyond,” it can also mean “more comprehensive” https://xcritical.com/ and even “transformative” . As a whole, the word “metaverse” generally refers to a virtual world that lies beyond, on top of, or is an extension of the physical world.

definition of a metaverse

Unlike motion-tracked digital avatars, which are kind of janky right now but could be better someday, there’s no janky version of making a three-dimensional picture appear in midair without tightly controlled circumstances. CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg or Satya Nadella talk about it, the metaverse what is the metaverse is the future of the internet. The metaverse has no single creator , so it’s not something that Meta owns or is solely responsible for developing. Still, Meta has already invested heavily in the metaverse through its Oculus VR headsets, and it’s working on AR glasses and wristband technologies.

The meaning of the ‘metaverse,’ and all the terms you need to understand it

Recently, the UK Treasury even asked the Royal Mint to create a non-fungible tokento be issued in summer 2022. We are in the process of writing and adding new material exclusively available to our members, and written in simple English, by world leading experts in AI, data science, and machine learning. Techopedia™ is your go-to tech source for professional IT insight and inspiration. We aim to be a site that isn’t trying to be the first to break news stories, but instead help you better understand technology and — we hope — make better decisions as a result.

definition of a metaverse

Gamers can expect metaverse tech companies to push the frontiers of gaming further into sci-fi territory, as virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Quest have already done. In the Neal Stephenson novel Snow Crash, protagonists interact with a fully immersive virtual reality environment, and movies like The Matrix also showcase metaverse-like technology. According to technologists, the metaverse will take the virtual reality experience to the next level, allowing users to float into the virtual world to do everything from buy land and host parties to even get married through digital avatars. At the moment, the idea of one universally acknowledged metaverse is still speculative — the stuff of science fiction.


On the Metaverse, land can be purchased by anybody for cryptocurrencies. The land is a non-fungible token , a blockchain asset class that one cannot trade for other things. Size refers to the fundamental number of pixels in a plot of Metaverse real estate.

A shared, realistic, and immersive computer simulation of the real world or other possible worlds, in which people participate as digital avatars. Roblox users don’t just show up on the platform, sell something, take their money and leave. Most of them put that money back into the platform’s economy, by spending it on games or avatar customizations that other users create.

definition of a metaverse

In September 2021, the company announced a $50 million investment in global research and program partners to ensure that metaverse technology would be developed responsibly. Augmented reality involves overlaying visual elements, sound, and other sensory stimuli onto a real-world setting to enhance the user experience. AR can be accessed with a smartphone, and users can control their presence in the real world.

E-wallets and cryptocurrencies make transactions for businesses simpler

To see the metaverse in action, we can look at popular massively multiplayer virtual reality games such as Rec Room or Horizon Worlds, where participants use avatars to interact with each other and manipulate their environment. Perhaps the closest existing iteration to the envisioned metaverse is the game Second Life, a simulation game that lets users experience virtual reality in which their avatar could shop, eat, shower, and do everything they would in real life. While the metaverse is far more expansive than a video game, the gaming world seems to have already adopted its most rudimentary form. Take for instance an online shooter game like Fortnite, where users have a personal avatar to engage and interact with other players’ avatars, while also earning virtual currency to unlock outfits for their avatar.

“Replacing” real life

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. Meta Platforms has also faced user safety criticism regarding Horizon Worlds due to sexual harassment occurring on the platform. In 2021, Meta made a loss of over $10 billion on its metaverse development department, with Mark Zuckerberg saying he expected operating losses to “increase meaningfully” in 2022. The metaverse is a cloud distributed, multi-vendor, immersive-interactive operating environment that users can access through different categories of connected devices . It uses Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 technologies to provide an interactive layer on top of the existing internet.

This allows gamers to win SAND tokens for reaching various milestones. As we have seen, Decentraland is an online decentralised platform which uses Blockchain technology to allow its users to make transactions. Digital assets, such as land, are stored as NFTs on the Ethereum Blockchain. Users have the ability to create and build items, including property. They can also accumulate virtual currencies which allow people to purchase items which can be used by their avatar. If you own anon-fungible token ,virtual-reality headset orcryptocurrency, you are already part of the broad metaversal experience.

That’s an important change because it means users eventually won’t need a Facebook account to use other services in the metaverse. Among other non-Facebook products, Meta has already sold millions of its Meta Quest — formerly Oculus — VR headset units for navigating the metaverse. We can expect many variations on the theme of this ambitious vision, explained Lawton in his article on top predictions about the metaverse. Some predict that a handful of platforms will ultimately dominate the space, as Apple iOS and Google Android did with mobile. Imagine a virtual world where billions of people live, work, shop, learn and interact with each other — all from the comfort of their couches in the physical world.

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