The metaverse is a virtual world where people can interact, learn, work, shop, and create in a 3D environment. It combines virtual reality with an open-world multiplayer setting, similar to those offered by Roblox and Fortnite.
While still in the early stages, the goal of the metaverse is to provide a virtual environment that simulates reality. It will allow people to explore an online space, meet other people, and build relationships. The metaverse will also support buying and selling virtual goods online.
In many ways, the metaverse simulates real life, but it also provides an alternate reality. For example, users create avatars, or characters, to represent themselves in the virtual world. Each user's avatar is a personalized creation that may appear similar or completely different than the actual person.
The idea of a metaverse has existed for decades, but only in recent years has technology made it possible. The metaverse itself is hosted by hundreds, or even thousands, of interconnected servers around the world. Each client, or user, who connects to the metaverse, must have the following technologies:
- High-speed Internet connection
- Fast GPU (graphics processor)
- VR (virtual reality) headset
A prime example of a metaverse is the virtual world represented in the movie "Ready Player One," released in 2018. Online multiplayer games like Second Life, Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox have elements of the metaverse, but their worlds are self-contained and don't incorporate virtual reality.
In 2021, Facebook changed the company name to "Meta." It plans to leverage its large social community and Oculus VR technology to create a new metaverse.