What is the metaverse?
The answer is not so obvious. We can in fact define it as an evolution of the Internet, a shared, interactive and realistic virtual space. However, this does not help us to visualize it, to paint in our mind a clear image of this technology which is now on everyone’s lips but which, formally, does not yet exist.
That is why we have decided to report you 8 between movies, TV series and anime that can help you understand the metaverse.
Ready Player One (2018)
Ready Player One it is not the first film to have catapulted us into the metaverse, nor is it the last. Yet it’s the first thing we thought about when Zuckeberg announced he was expanding virtual reality.
It is 2045, pollution and overpulation have destroyed the planet and cities are reduced to slums where the only focus is on survival. People thus take refuge in a virtual universe called OASIS. To have created this digital and boundless place is James Halliday who, after his death, uses his digital avatar to communicate to the world that he is looking for an heir. To succeed him, however, it is necessary to find an easter egg within OASIS, which puts people of all kinds in competition, from structured societies to the young Wade Watts, protagonist of the film.
Ready Player One proposes this to us an alternative reality where it is possible to carry out all kinds of activities. All of this wearing a virtual reality headset that closely resembles those currently on the market. This is why the film directed by Steven Spielberg was the first to which we associated the term “metaverse”, because it is futuristic but somehow linked to our present, which makes it easier to identify with and understand the mechanics of OASIS.
Where to watch it: Sky Go, NOW, Mediaset Infinity
Tron it’s a 1982 film and yes, it’s still the work of Steven Spielberg. Here the story is a bit different than the somewhat realistic one proposed by Ready Player One.
The protagonist is Kevin Flynn, programmer from whom Ed Dilinger, head of Encom, has stolen a series of video games. To take back what is his, Kevin decides to break into Dilinger’s company but a sophisticated artificial intelligence software (MCP) recognizes the attempted unauthorized access and uses an experimental laser to digitize Kevin and bring him into a virtual universe.
Tron’s cyberspace is different from what we imagine today: the scenarios are minimal, futuristic and characterized by neon elements, the characters are dressed in tight rompers and phosphorescent elements and there are no particular activities to do, also because Kevin’s goal is to escape, certainly not to stay there for a little vacation. In short, it is not the idyllic metaverse that we envision today but it is a taste. Or perhaps a version that we can observe with a little admiration and a great desire to never enter it.
Where to watch it: Disney+
Let’s start by answering the most important question: yes, the one in the trailer is Diego Abatantuono.
Nirvana is an Italian-French co-production, was produced and directed by Gabriele Salvadores and is the highest-grossing Italian science fiction film.
It’s not exactly a metaverse movie but we’ll get to that shortly.
The protagonist of the film is Jimi Dini and he is the programmer of a game called Nirvana. Unfortunately, his work is infected with a virus and, suddenly, the protagonist of the videogame becomes aware. Only, this is his name, gets in touch with Jimi, forced to reveal the truth to him: he is “only” the character of a game and will soon be replicated thousands of times to be able to land on fans’ computers. Only at this point he asks to be deleted and so Jimi, pitying, decides to help him but the task will not be easy: to delete the original copy of Nirvana he will have to secretly enter the offices of Okosama Starr, the software company he works for.
The Salvadores’s film does not let us enter cyberspace but brings cyberspace into reality. And it is perhaps one of our greatest fears: at a certain point a virtual being becomes aware of its nature and rebels.
However, Nirvana leaves us a message of hope: unlike other films, where artificial intelligence evolves in an uncontrolled and uncontrollable way, the Italian film remains anchored to positive human feelings, with Jimi ready to sacrifice himself for Solo.
This is not the feature film that will help you to really understand how the metaverse could be but perhaps it is one of the few science fiction works that does not leverage this fear of ours.
Where to watch it: Disney+
Matrix it is perhaps the best known science fiction film in the world. The story is that of Neo, a programmer by day and a hacker by night, who is invited by Morpheus to learn the truth about the world they live in. Neo chooses the red pill and abruptly awakens in an incubator, immersed in a viscous liquid and connected to electric cables. He is not the only one: there are thousands of other similar pods around him.
Thus he discovers that the reality in which he has lived until now does not really exist, is an interactive neuro-simulation called the Matrix. The physical world is actually governed by machines, which cultivate humans to harness their heat and bioelectricity.
Matrix is a real nightmare because on the one hand it deludes us with a metaverse that is so well done as to be considered the only existing reality, on the other it puts us again in front of the drama of the rebellion of the machines. What would happen if the technology that will make the metaverse possible also leads to the awareness and power of some automaton or everything electronic? It is a frightening and undoubtedly premature image but it is a fear with which, sooner or later, we will have to confront.
The Wachowskis’ film confronts us with another consideration: Matrix is not what we want. The virtual reality we expect is something more playful, something that allows us to go beyond our limits and those of the physical world. What sense would a boringly equal copy of the Earth make?
Where to watch it: Mediaset Infinity
Sword Art Online (2012)
Sword Art Online it is the exact opposite of the Matrix. The Japanese anime, a transposition of the manga of the same name written by Reki Kawahara, teleports us into a virtual reality game – precisely called Sword Art Online (SAO) – which expertly mixes elements typical of the fantasy world with those equally common of the medieval era. The problem is that, once connected to the game, thanks to a helmet called NerveGear that stimulates the five senses, players are no longer able to log out. The only way to save himself is to get to and overcome the last level of the game, an undertaking in which the protagonist of the anime, Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya, will be launched.
The SAO metaverse is, in our opinion, one of the most interesting because in reality is admittedly a video game, an MMO (massively multiplayer online) in virtual reality which, instead of offering a bit of everything, focuses on a specific scenario, the fantasy one. It is a different approach than the one told, for example, by Ready Player One.
Here too, however, the narrator relies on our anxieties, specifically that of not being able to get out of cyberspace, to get trapped in some way. Not necessarily due to malfunctions of the viewer, as happens in SAO, but also for psychological and social reasons. After all, this is already happening with the Internet, with the network we have now. Sometimes digital is easier to manage, for others it is safer and for some it is more satisfying than everyday life. In short, there are many issues facing the metaverse.
Where to watch it: Netflix, Prime Video, VVVID
Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)
Ralph breaks the internet is the sequel to Wreck-It Ralph and the 57th Disney classic. Here the perspective is totally opposite to what has been told so far: we are not faced with people in flesh and blood who enter the metaverse but rather fictional characters of the metaverse who live in total autonomy trying to influence the real world.
Ralph is in fact the protagonist of a video game and the same thing goes for his friend Vanellope. In an attempt to help the young driver out of boredom and routine, Ralph decides to create a new track within the Sugar Rush game. The modification, however, causes the game to crash and break the cabinet that contains it. The solution? Buy a new steering wheel on eBay. The two digital characters then decide to enter the Internet via a Wi-Fi router, finding themselves in front of a kind of huge city with buildings that bear the name of the great companies of our time, popups that come to life and Disney characters that roam freely around the city.
Ralph Breaks the Internet not only offers a unique look at the net as it is today but takes us in a metaverse that is not yet accessible to humans. Basically a 3D Internet that is not yet ready to welcome a three-dimensional version of us.
Where to watch it: Disney+
Upload is set in the near future: it is 2033 and dying humans can charge their consciousness into the ether. Yes, you got it right: this TV series envisions a digital afterlife.
However, there is no single “afterlife”. In reality there are more types of “paradise” where the difference is… the money. Well yes, having been rich in life or having someone still alive with large monetary funds, allows access to advanced places where it is possible to do all kinds of activities, there is every kind of comfort and there is no limit to interactions with people. (real or deceased) and objects. On the contrary, the lack of funds will lead you to havens that are a little less prosperous and with less freedom of action.
In Upload it is Nathan who loses his life and, in an attempt to save him, the wealthy girlfriend has the upload done. The protagonist thus finds himself in a splendid virtual paradise called Lake View, where Nora, the human assistant in charge of supporting him during the initial stages of adaptation, …