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When it comes to the meta-verse, we see a lot of fog and hype there. Everyone seems to think they want it, but they are not sure what it is or whether it is something that has already been done or something that is coming. Here are some of my own thoughts on what a metaverse should be.
What I would like to encourage is a little imagination. If you remember the words of Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two, he said in interviews and a speech he held that the metaverse was overhyped and many things had already been done. He called Second Life and its inspiration for virtual worlds a grim failure, and he praised GTA Online for doing everything metaverse through games. It’s social, people play together, they play their games.
But I think Zelnick fell into the trap of thinking we’ve been there before and done. Why try again? It’s good to remember that so many massively multiplayer online (MMO) games preceded GTA Online and World of Warcraft, like Eve Online. They built on each other.
In my opinion, the metaverse should be in real time. It has to be fast and you have to be able to jump between worlds right away, with no painful delays that pull you out of the immersion you can be in anywhere.
My idea of an entertaining metavers involves the work of a young writer who long ago studied as an English major and explored rich works filled with literary references, such as TS Eliot’s The Wasteland and Paradise Themes and Hell and the End of Civilization.
He came up with the idea of building a set of worlds and characters and stories that would all be connected. Each creation had its own meta-story. It was a bit like the idea of binding the original Myst books by Robin and Rand Miller.
He drew inspiration from The Lord of the Rings, Arthur Legends and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. And he read the poem Childe Roland for the Dark Tower cam, by Robert Browning. The series was about his interpretation of what happened when a knight approached the dark tower.
I’m talking about Stephen King and his magnum opus, The Dark Tower series. King was often criticized for his horror works, beginning with Carrie, and he was considered a literary schlockmeister who produced the worst pulp fiction.
But he started with this idea, leaving it seemingly buried for decades. But he built worlds, and he created backdoors to those worlds for a larger metahistory. He came up with the idea of building a set of worlds and characters and stories that would all be connected. Along with the ideas of parallel worlds and time travel, he made sure that these characters – like The Stand villain Randall Flagg – could appear again and again in all of his books through decades of writing. He woven works such as The Wastelands and The Seven Samurai into the wallpaper of The Dark Tower, which eventually grew to eight novels and over 4,250 pages.
I’m aware that they made a movie review on the first story. And Amazon canceled a TV series based on it. But I’m one of those hardcore fans.
By tying dozens of novels and other creative works together and telling a very great story, King got the last word on people who felt that his work never deserved the epic mark. He created his own magnum opus. In my mind, he built a metaverse. You can take it all and turn it into a digital metavers of virtual, interconnected worlds. You can use these links to discover common threads between these stories. It was not just a story. It was a whole collection of stories, all under one roof. It was like a franchise of franchises.
Or better yet, you can let readers and players take these worlds and make them their own. To me, it’s the kind of imagination worthy of the term metaverse. I wish someone would build it.
What should I do in this metaverse? I do not know. Hell, I could come up with my own Stephen King-like stories about The Dark Tower or maybe just get in touch with other fans. It would be a world built on worlds, and something I could put my teeth into as a fan.
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