How Media Predicted The Metaverse
In 1982 Tron introduced us to a virtual world. The Movie in which a hacker finds himself sucked into a video game and features an A.I. hero alongside a 3D virtual reality world. The story introduces the digital consciousness of computers, a theme explored in later movies such as “The Matrix” and political ideology in an A.I. world. Humanity has questioned the nature of our reality since the beginning of time. In the Allegory of the cave, Plato explores the fragment of the reality spectrum we interpret and stories such as “Alice in Wonderland” allude to different dimensions.
In the 1999 release “The Matrix”, the story unfolds that a hacker called Neo is trapped in a virtual simulation. That reality existed outside the simulation, and he lived in digital hell—a computer-generated prison for the mind. The Movie features elements of Gnosticism and that the world we live in is a fake reality controlled by a malevolent being or God. Released the same year, David Cronenberg’s “eXistenZ” tells the story of players of a video game that begins to question the world they sense as reality being part of a game.
The Movie Free Guy further explores simulation theory in a comedy about a virtual game world where the hero is an NPC who discovers the truth about his reality. Enlightenment is a common theme in these movies, from the “black cat” scene in the Matrix where Neo sees a glitch to the Free Guy moment in which knowledge comes through sunglasses, an idea borrowed from Sci-Fi Classic “They Live”.
Netflix’s Black Mirror predicts a dystopian future in which technology controls every aspect of our lives with elements of virtual worlds and extended reality. In Black Mirror’s San Junipero, we are introduced to a Metaverse for the dead. But perhaps the closest visualisation of the Metaverse comes from Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, where players live part of their lives in a virtual universe dominated by centralisation against a backdrop of overpopulation and poverty.