The Origin of the Metaverse

I’ve been somewhat obsessed and excited about virtual reality after acquiring the Oculus Rift Development Kit One (or DK1) and experiencing just a little bit of what is being dubbed “presence” (see Mike Abrash’s presentation at Dev Days on what this is). My excited only increased after Sony announced their own VR headset, called the Sony Morpheus, lending credence to the idea that VR has finally arrived. This has all put me in a wildly speculative mood. I believe this technology will catch on very quickly because it will provide the most immersive and engaging experiences as of yet conceived. It will finally allow us to escape.

My consumption has not just been DK1 demos and projects, but I’ve been loyally following the latest updates on reddit.com/r/oculus and other blogs, as well as consuming any novel related to VR. I quickly devoured Ready Player One and I’m half way through Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. William Gibson’s Neuromancer will be next. Common to each of these novels is the idea of a virtual world separate from our own in which people from all over the world connect to explore fantastical environments in which the physical laws of the real universe do not apply. This often involves strapping a device to our face, something akin to goggles, along with sporting gear on our hands and body that enhance the experience by simulating touch, often called haptics. The virtual worlds are named something different in each novel (OASIS, Metaverse, Matrix). I like Snow Crash’s “metaverse” the most.

It seems a metaverse is inevitable as these headsets get better. Given the social nature of our species, it seems obvious that we’d also want to experience the metaverse together. We want to, or rather need to, share experiences with each other. Experiences in the metaverse will be novel, plentiful, and unconstrained by the physical properties of reality – we will want to share them.