The metaverse is one of the most popular topics in the tech world right now. People discuss the impact the metaverse will have on our society—how it will change the way we live and communicate with each other. Businesses see the metaverse as a source of new opportunities, because it could be worth $13 trillion by 2030.
Yet, despite all the buzz around this concept, there is still a lot of uncertainty about the idea of the metaverse itself. The problem is much broader than the just selection of technologies we need to build the metaverse. We still don’t have a fundamental agreement about what the metaverse is.
This article will explain everything designers need to know about the metaverse— the concept of the metaverse, the role web3 will play in the metaverse, and practical tips on how designers can adapt to this exciting new frontier when it comes to the web design industry and more.
What is the metaverse?
There is no single right definition of the concept of the metaverse. Generally, the metaverse is often seen as a cohesive, virtual, functional world—a network of 3D worlds deeply integrated with each other.
But when it comes to more specific design decisions, such as how the metaverse should be organized as a system, different people see the metaverse differently. That's because it’s still in extremely early stages and rapidly evolving as a field. But it's possible to describe what the metaverse is by focusing on the word itself.
The word “meta” comes from the Greek preposition meta, which means “after” or “beyond.” The word “verse” is a short form of the universe. When we combine the meaning of the two words, we will have an idea of a parallel universe. People will join this parallel universe to participate in various kinds of activities—from business to leisure.
The idea of the metaverse isn't new. The term “metaverse” first appeared in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 book Snow Crash. This book used the term to explain the next Internet iteration—a virtual space in which users immerse themselves.
The novel portrays a dystopian future from which the metaverse offers an escape. But this escape isn’t all fun and games. The protagonist joins the metaverse to fight the computer virus, Snow Crash, that causes real-life brain damage to users. It's since been an integral part of sci-fi movies like The Matrix and Ready Player One.
You might be wondering why the topic became popular in 2022. The answer is simple—right now, it's a perfect moment to start creating metaverse experiences because the tech is actually starting to catch up with the idea.
The metaverse will be the most sophisticated platform humans have ever created, and a large part of it belongs to the idea of the metaverse as an experience.
Here are a few essential properties of the metaverse as an experience:
Living experience. Like our real world, the metaverse operates consistently for everyone participating in it. Just like in the real world, all metaverse users see the same environmental objects and experience the same laws of physics. All users are affected by environmental changes. For example, if some object (i.e., a tree in a park) is destroyed, it won't exist any longer for all users.
Persistent experience. Metaverse never pauses or ends.
Independent economic system. Just like in our real world, the metaverse will have a market economy allowing users to sell and buy assets.