In the classic movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, King Arthur arrives with his knights at castle walls and invites the French inhabitants of the castle to join the search for the Holy Grail. The sentinel high on the castle wall responds, in a ridiculous French accent, “We already got one”; and then self-congratulates the humorousness of his response to the “silly English ka-nig-huts”. Somehow I am reminded of that scene in the context of the “Metaverse”. A response of “We already got one” would be similarly cheeky but more truthful.
To be fair, the “Metaverse” is as yet a nascent and as such relatively undefined expression. And, I remind myself of the wisdom of “don’t criticize what you can’t understand” (another wayback reference, this time per Bob Dylan). After all, it wasn’t all that many years ago that “Internet” first entered common parlance.
As I sort through the fuzzy descriptions and amorphous visions (and more than a little hype) surrounding the “Metaverse”, I gather it is conceptualized as the next generation of the Internet – incorporating (among other things) elements of virtual reality, augmented reality, and personal avatars. The root meaning of “meta” means what comes after or beyond; it can also mean “more comprehensive” or “transcending”. For example, “metaphysics” reaches beyond physics, and arguably its truths reveal themselves after or beyond the study of physics, with quantum physics offering a bridge of sorts. (For a broader discussion of all that, see Earth Game: The Evolution of Consciousness.) Accordingly, one might have thought “Metanet” would have been a more accurate (although less enticing) nomenclature for this new thing. But, let’s let that particular quibble go.
The back end of “Metaverse” derives from the “Universe”, which is a word generally used to encapsulate all space and time and its contents, as we collectively experience such things. Even if we apply the newly popularized meaning of meta as meaning self-referential information (e.g., metadata, being information about data) or self-awareness, it is hard to see “Metaverse” as an expression that makes a whole lot of sense – other than having a ring to it that appears to be a marketer’s dream.
But, let’s come back to the core elements of virtual reality, augmented reality, and personal avatars. That sounds to me a lot like the thesis explored in Earth Game: The Evolution of Consciousness, which consists of the following elements:
- We are within a brilliantly designed reality that is, in effect, a simulation that disguises itself through illusions that are central to the design.
- We participate in the multi-player “Earth Game” through personal “avatars” (being our “physical” bodies) that are designed to perceive the illusions as “real”.
So what’s with the obsession with “virtual reality”? We already got one, I think to myself.
Although maybe, just maybe, we are collectively fascinated with virtual reality in part because down that road there are clues that might give us a glimpse beyond the illusions designed into the reality that we are so sure is the only “real” one. From The Matrix to Free Guy, we love this stuff. And, within “Earth Game”, we are fascinated by all sorts of games. Nothing wrong with any of that; games of various kinds (including sports) are part of the fun here in what I like to think of as “Theme Park Earth”. But do we really need to focus our collective attention and intention on constructing all-encompassing games within “Earth Game”? Put another way, to what extent is it constructive to create simulated realities within simulated realities? Surely the objective of Earth Game is not to create “turtles all the way down”?
As for creating personal avatars, well, here again, We already got one. Sure, play and explore, but don’t forget to focus on the personal avatar you think of as your body.
I can’t help but wonder if obsessing (other than as casual play) over virtual reality has things pointing in the wrong direction. Instead of pursuing “turtles all the way down”, why not explore one turtle up? That is, why not seek out the “you” who is outside Earth Game and looks (lovingly) at you as their personal avatar within Earth Game?
Besides, there is much to explore within “Theme Park Earth”. The wonders of physicality, the beauty of nature, the interactions that populate this multi-player game, and the experiences of love that let us catch at least a glimpse beyond the illusion of separation – these absolutely merit our focused attention.
Is “Earth Game” too hard, such that we tend to be drawn to escape from it, one turtle down, into games that we think we have a better chance of figuring out, solving, winning? Maybe. But don’t give up on Earth Game; the more you learn about its design and how it works, the more you can achieve a level of mastery and a sense of wonder at the brilliance of the game. You can find your way into the “next level” – and you can begin to string together “wins” that, right now, are beyond your wildest dreams.
You like games and you like virtual reality? Play this one. Really play it.
Not saying don’t have “Metaverse” fun along the way. Just don’t lose your bearings within Earth Game.