The Metaverse is a term coined by Raph Koster, creator of Ultima Online and designer of the Aeon RPG system. The term is derived from the Greek words meta (beyond) and vertex (turning point). The term has been used in various contexts since its first usage in 1994. It was first used to describe an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) that would allow players to inhabit a single virtual world, or “Metaverse”, which would be shared by all the players. In this way, it would not be necessary for each player to create their own character, as they could simply enter the game and be instantly immersed into the world. This was a departure from the traditional role playing games of the time, where characters were created through a series of decisions and actions.
Since the advent of World of Warcraft, the concept of the Metaverse has been taken up by other MMORPG developers. For example, EverQuest allows players to create their own character, but also offers the option of choosing to play as a non-player character (NPC). This NPC character will then have his or her own storyline and quest, but the player can still choose to interact with him or her. The player’s character is considered a ‘pseudo-character’, meaning that it does not exist within the game itself, but only within the player’s imagination. The concept of the Metaverse was further developed in 2003 by Sony Online Entertainment’s EverQuest II, which allowed players to create their own character. However, the player’s character exists within the game itself, and the player can choose to interact with them at any time.
In 2004, Blizzard Entertainment released a massively multiplayer online role playing game called World of WarCraft. It allows players to create their own characters, and to become either a human or a ‘creature’ (a dwarf, gnome, orc, etc.). The creatures are actually computer generated images, rather than being animated models, but they have their own unique characteristics and backstories. Players can choose to play as a human or as a creature, and can interact with each other.
In 2005, the company Massive Incorporated announced a new MMORPG, entitled Final Fantasy XIV. The game allows players to create their own pseudo-characters, but these are more like avatars than actual characters. They can be customized with different outfits, weapons and skills, and they are used to represent the player in a number of activities, such as chatting with other players, playing minigames, exploring the game world and participating in raids. The player’s avatar can be changed at any time, allowing him or her to change appearance at any time.