Neal Stephenson's Metaverse

Parul Wadhwa

Medium: Browser-based hypertext metalanguage game. Recommended browsers include Safari, Firefox and Chrome. Not tested on Apple or Android smartphones.

Neal Stephenson’s Metaverse is an interactive non-fiction digital game. Way back in 1992, Neal Stephenson coined the term “Metaverse” for the same sort of wireless, online virtual-reality experience that Facebook, Google, Samsung, and practically every other major tech company in Silicon Valley is now competing to commercialize. When asked about coining the term metaverse in a recent interview, Neal Stephenson said “he was making shit up.”

In the game, Neal Stephenson takes the player through an HTML-generated personality quiz with branching narratives and multiple choice questions to understand themselves in this artificially intelligent world. The choices allow Twine (an open-source tool) to score them and assign them a personality, but is it accurate and true? Is it possible to deduce an avatar from a complex human form? Towards the end of the game, the goal is for the player to meet their digital self and guide them towards questions like — What is the purpose of technology? What is the metaverse? What is the truth of the metaverse? If the purpose of technology is to elevate the human consciousness, then what awareness is the metaverse creating? What is the purpose of human life? Who is human in an artificially intelligent world?