Metaverse in Pop Culture

9 min
Metaverse in Pop Culture

Metaverse is the new hot buzzword that is trending in social media and making its way to the covers of magazines that are not necessarily connected with technology. All this, thanks to Mark Zuckerberg and his creepy, heavy on the corporate side presentation on the matter, which was connected with his company’s rebranding from Facebook to Meta.

Adshares is a Web3 protocol for Metaverse space monetization. Adshares Adserver platforms allow users to rent space inside Metaverse, blockchain games, NFT exhibitions and websites. Advertising in the metaverse is going to be as advertising anywhere else. Just better. More user friendly. Much more creative. Decentralised.

This is our goal. We want to free web3 from centralised advertising where the middleman fee impacts on advertisers costs and publishers revenue. We want to educate community about the Metaverse hence you are reading this story. So what are the examples of Metaverse in our pop culture?

You might be wondering: ”What exactly is this Metaverse, and what does this exactly mean for me?”, and we already touched upon this subject, but it is strange that you do, when we take into consideration, that the metaverse, although not exactly called by its name, has been present in the pop culture for decades now. And this is what we would like to focus on in this text — not any fancy, technical words, or definitions, just the obvious examples of how the metaverse could look like, based on the cultural contexts that you probably already know. So, without further ado, let’s jump straight into the metaverse, or rather in the way that it’s portrayed in pop culture. Although it’s obvious, it’s worth noting that there might be some spoilers to the works used as references.

How will it look — metaverse in movies and tv series

Again, as stated above we’re not interested in simply presenting you with a list of pop-cultural works, that deal with the metaverse, or have elements of it. We want to present you with references that could help you understand what metaverse is.

Virtual reality

The first pop cultural icon that can give you a glimpse at what to expect of the metaverse is the 1982 movie “Tron”. It’s a story about a computer programmer that is sucked into a computer program, where he has to fight for survival.

The metaverse element in the movie is the computer-generated world in which the movie takes place. When looking today at the special effects and the computer graphics presented in the movie, it is hard not to smile at how “realistic” they are. But one has to remember that at the time of the movie premiere that was state-of-the-art technology, and many minds were blown by just how advanced the visuals were. But as stated before, we have to admit that the movie has aged badly, and square blocks from “Tron” aren’t as impressive as they used to be. And, for a true metaverse experience, they should be.

One of the ideas behind the metaverse is to create a world that would in the best way possible imitate the real world, not necessarily in being down to earth realistic, but in creating in the user the illusion that their surroundings are real. If we want to look, how an ideal metaverse would look today, we have to direct our attention to another science fiction movie icon — the 1999 “The Matrix”.

The Matrix tells the story of a computer hacker by the name of Thomas Anderson, who discovers that the world that he lives in is a computer simulation created by machines, who have to keep humans at bay, so they could use them as batteries. The world depicted not only in The Matrix, but the whole franchise that followed it is so advanced that it is almost indistinguishable from the real world. Humans are incapable of looking past the simulation, not only because they do not know how the real world looks like, but because the computing power of machines that created it makes it possible to present them with real, life-like experiences, catering to all of the senses. That is, what the current creators of the metaverse are aiming at — a near-perfect artificial copy of our everyday surroundings, or at least an environment that makes us feel “natural” when we are in it.

Of course, the world that we create in the metaverse does not have to at all resemble “our” reality. The 2016 HBO series “Westworld” presents us with a version of reality, that rather than mimicking the contemporary world, is a kind of amusement park reflecting the “wild west era”. Again, the user experience is almost impossible to expose as being fake, based on the surroundings themselves.

The immersion in the created metaverse is important not to necessarily always draw us away from the world as it is. As many taking their stand on the metaverse tend to forget, it’s not only about the Virtual Reality, but also Augmented Reality and the two creating a version of reality that connects them and makes them intertwine. This would allow users to use the technology to freely move from a world generated by a computer, in which they are the only partially, to reality as we know it, with just some artificial elements enhancing their experience of the platform.

Augmented reality

What this means can be seen in the tv series and movies from the Star Trek universe. The plot of the franchise takes place in a future, where humanity is a part of a galactic federation of planets, along with many alien species, and as it is by now obvious, we can observe them, having many, various adventures in space. It is only logical that having the technology that allows them to more or less freely explore the universe, the series protagonists would also have access to the metaverse. The most obvious representation of the mentioned augmented reality that we can see is the holodeck. Holodeck is a room that allows the crew of spaceships, and starbases to create a reality of their choosing within the space of the holodeck. After programming what the user chooses into the interface, holodeck projects the requested images in the room, using holograms, providing exact replicas of real objects. The projected objects not only imitate their existing counterparts by looking like them but can also be felt by the user.

At this moment we do not have the technology that would allow us to deliver such an experience to metaverse end users. However, as time progresses there will most likely be technological breakthroughs that will provide us with means that will make it possible for users to have, if not an exact copy of the holodeck from the Star Trek franchise, at the very least something very similar. Preferably capable of offering that level of Augmented Reality which is not limited to rooms, but available in a more mobile environment. The kind of mobility that we’re talking about can be also seen in movies that present their characters interacting, in most cases, with artificial intelligence that projects interactive holographic images to their users. Probably the first character that comes to mind is MCU’s Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man interacting with his artificial intelligence — JARVIS.

How will it work — metaverse in books

First of all, we have to get one thing out of the way by mentioning the novel “Snow Crash”. We have to mention, as it is in this 1992 book by Neal Stephenson, that the word “metaverse” is used for the first time. What the author envisioned as a metaverse, is to some extent an extension and successor of the internet, that resembles a massive online multiplayer game set in virtual reality with player avatars. Although “Snow Crash” gained critical acclaim, you might be more familiar with another book that depicts the metaverse which is the New York Times bestseller, 2011 “Ready Player One” by Cline Ernest. It’s most probable that you will know this one, simply because Steven Spielberg made it into a movie in 2018. The author portrays in his book, a not-so-far-away future, of the year 2045. The world is gripped by several crises so many of its inhabitants decide to spend most of their time in a virtual reality called OASIS.

The world of OASIS is an almost complete experience. It can be accessed by a set of wearables and unlike in the previously mentioned metaverse of “Snow Crash,” there are almost no restrictions, preventing users from exploring various universes, or limiting the way how their avatars might look.

People ate not only “playing” Oasis. They also attend school and can gain financial means while being in virtual reality. It will be the same case with the metaverses that will be available to us. We already can

The new experience — metaverse in music

We’ve been accustomed to many of the above-mentioned solutions, be it by consuming movies or books that tackled the metaverse topic, although rarely, if ever using the term itself. However, the metaverse might bring something completely new for the music industry.

During the pandemic, we witnessed a series of online concerts organized by various musical artists, who wanted to minimize their losses brought upon them by canceled tours. I believe that we can all agree that whether the production was consistent with a single artist playing on an instrument in his or her room, or a full-blown production with lasers and pyrotechnics, the experience was not even close to attending a live show at a venue.

However, there was one artist that embraced the possibilities offered by virtual reality, and made the headlines, with a performance in the online game “Fortnite” and managing to convince 12,3 million people to join his show. Granted it can hardly be called a full show since it lasted for only minutes, but just imagine the opportunities presented by virtual reality with realistic graphic designs and perfect sound. We could participate in such events, with our friends with almost all the pros of frequenting a live concert, without most of the cons. What is more, we and the artist could participate in live shows without the necessity of traveling the world, if we didn’t want to. We would have all those great experiences at our disposal.

What will the future bring — how pop culture presents changes that metaverse brings

What we touched upon in this text, is how the metaverse will change our lives, but there’s one thing worth noting, that we didn’t touch upon yet. The realities portraying the phenomenon we’re talking about are not always optimistic.

What is interesting, pop-cultural works that are putting the metaverse in the center of their story usually have a dystopian overtone. Be it the above-mentioned Matrix, Tron, Ready Player One, Westworld, or works that we didn’t mention, like “Black Mirror”. On the other hand, when the possibilities of this technology are somewhere in the background, being just one of many technological advancements available for the work’s protagonists, the metaverse is just one of many tools and therefore is rarely demonized. What can we expect?

First of all, we have to understand that, at least for the time being, it does not seem that there will be one metaverse, rather a set of smaller and bigger metaverses. They will probably be used for different tasks, but we have to remember that although the metaverse will probably be a life-changing experience, similarly in the way that the internet was, it is only a tool, and it is only up to us to decide how we will use it.

The simulation hypothesis — are we living in a metaverse?

There’s one more thing worth mentioning before we finish — the simulation hypothesis. There are some scholars, among which Nick Bostrom is worth mentioning, that believe that we are already not only using the metaverse but are a part of it. Doctor Bostrom stated in his paper “Are we Living in a Computer Simulation”, published in 2003, that there is a possibility, that we, as well as the whole world surrounding us, might be just a computer simulation. He believes that having the required technology, with machines with enough computing power, future generations might feel the need to emulate their ancestors, and we might be a part of such a simulation.

Having this theory in mind and thinking about the events of the past few years, and how unreal they seem, one might wonder if we’re not wasting our time putting the metaverse apart, as all we have to do to see how it looks is simply look around us.

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