Defining the metaverse today

May 2021

By Cathy Hackl for Forbes. You can read the full version here.

How would you define the metaverse? Is it one metaverse? Is it multiple metaverses? Is the term metaverse the term we should use? Is the metaverse here, or is it being created? So many questions arise when one is asked to define the term metaverse. Defining the term in 2021 is not a simple task.

Google the term metaverse and you’ll find several definitions. Wikipedia defines it as a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worldsaugmented reality, and the Internet. The word “metaverse” is a portmanteau of the prefix “meta” (meaning beyond) and “universe”; the term is typically used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe. But do those definitions really reflect what many in the technology and business world refer to when they use the word metaverse?

Roblox, Epic, Genies, and Zepeto use the term metaverse, while Facebook uses Live Maps, and Magic Leap prefers the Magicverse. Kevin Kelley called it the Mirrorworld in Wired, and Nvidia uses the term Omniverse. Others prefer the term AR Cloud, Spatial Internet, or Spatial Web.

While defining the term is not easy, one thing is probably true. The term will not be defined by one single person or company, it will be defined by many, and it will evolve. The language we use to describe the future today is ever-changing. That is why we asked 20 professionals to share their definitions and perspectives on the metaverse with us to delve deeper into what the metaverse is, what it means, and what it might become.

“I think the Metaverse is the all-encompassing space in which all digital experience sits; the observable digital universe made up of millions of digital galaxies”

Claire Kimber (Group Innovation Director at Posterscope)