What is the Metaverse?
The short answer: "It's the Internet, except you can walk around in it."
The long answer: "An Internet-like system, except using a three-dimensional world metaphor with which you interact using a three-dimensional virtual representation of yourself (see Digital Avatar
) instead of a two-dimensional hyperlinked-document metaphor with which you interact by clicking links and buttons."
The trope answer: The Internet becoming Cyberspace for real
and everyone knowing about it and interacting with it that way.
The advent of Second Life
and its open-source equivalent, Open Sim
, may make this future arrive sooner than you think. Some might argue that it already has, what with real-world governments and businesses setting up shop in Second Life, people making real-world money entirely within Second Life, and successful experiments at teleporting avatars between the Second Life grid and various OpenSim grids.
This is a subtrope of Cyber Space
where it's widely known and used as a replacement for today's Internet by the public at large, not just by a few lucky hackers, discoverers, or inventors' friends.
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Anime and Manga
- In The Matrix and its sequels, the Matrix is a "neuro-active simulation" which human minds are jacked into to keep them under the machines' control. It's a very convincing simulation of late 20th century civilization, except to those few that don't take to it and are sought out by the rebels to become redpills.
- Cyberspace/The Matrix in William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy.
- Snow Crash: Trope Namer.
- Otherland, by Tad Williams.
- The Sidebar Universes in Justina Robson's Living Next Door to the God of Love are a lot like this. Robson makes it difficult to tell where (or if) reality ends and virtual reality begins.
- The Infosphere in Dan Simmon's Hyperion. Also the Megasphere, the true home of the AI Core, and the Metasphere, aka the Void Which Binds.
- Nero Manson's Sex Drugs And Violence In The Future depicts "The Grid" as a metaphysical overlay of ASCII characters on the real world.
- Inscape in several of Karl Schroeder's book, especially Ventus, Lady of Mazes, and Permanence.
- Used in a few of Charles Stross's books, particularly Accelerando.
- This Alien Shore, by C.S. Friedman.
- Used on a massive scale in the Golden Age trilogy by John C. Wright.
- Used in the works of Kawahara Reki. The idea is just starting to pick up steam in Sword Art Online, but by the time of Accel World it's become commonplace. It helps that between the two series "diving" technology is miniaturised from bulky NerveGear headsets to the slim NeuroLinker collar, the latter also having an Augmented Reality function that essentially replaces mobile phones.
- Ready Player One has "OASIS".
- In Unison Spark by Andy Marino, Unison is a social network that operates like this. Users access the virtual world by clapping their hands together. The protagonists, Ambrose Truax and Mistletoe, are trying to stop the new upgrade to Unison 3.0, which is more nefarious than it seems.
- The oneirochronon (literally, "dreamtime") in Aristoi.
- The titular REEL (the acronym is French for "real"), where every person on Earth has an individual account since birth. It allows an equal access to education, communication and entertainment.
Live Action TV
- Megaman Battle Network - The Internet has evolved into just this, except the avatars are independent, sentient entities instead of just virtual images of the users. Also, it's been extended into everything from water coolers to vases.
- In Star Force, the internet has grown out into a massive wireless world that overlaps the real one.
- And yet manages to be both far, far less impressive or useful than the internet from something like a hundred years before.
- The Nameless Mod: a meta example. The game (mod) is set in forum city-a fictional metaverse based on Deus Ex where player avatars are based on Deus Ex characters.
- Kid Radd has the digital protagonists living in the internet, which to them looks much like this trope.
- In Futurama, after clearing the Valley of Pop-Up Ads, you reach a huge metropolis where Google and Yahoo are in the big buildings. The porn sites are in the red light district.