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Neal Stephenson Says Video Games Are the Metaverse 176

Posted by timothy
from the wish-those-games-didn't-bore-me-so-quickly dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Neal Stephenson says the 'Metaverse' he created in his seminal novel Snow Crash missed the point — and that video games like World of Warcraft are the true future of cyberspace." Forbes writer David Ewalt seems taken with Stephenson's new book, REAMDE, which I'm looking forward to getting my hands on.
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Neal Stephenson Says Video Games Are the Metaverse

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @12:30PM (#37457120) Homepage Journal

    This is why our society is headed towards looking like the morbidly obese blobs in "Wall-E"!

    Don't go outside into the REAL WORLD to exercise and socialize, just sit on your butt playing video games and pretending the people in the games are your real friends. All the while you get bigger and more unhealthy... eating garbage food and have subluxations grow.

    Don't get me wrong, there's nothing inherently bad about video games (we own an XBOX360 with Kinect) but expecting to go into these make believe worlds and flourish while the Real World You rots is absolutely disgusting. I'm 5'11", 160 lbs and haven't wavered for ~15 years.

    Folks, enjoy casual gaming. Please make sure you get out for exercise, good nutrition and adjustments.

    Think about this: at the end of your life, you won't look back over the course of your journey and think "Gee, I wish I played MORE video games."

    Follow my journal for more health advice.
    Take care,
    Bob
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by grub (11606)
      lol... oh dear.
      • by cobrausn (1915176) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @12:37PM (#37457202)
        Uh, looks like you forgot to sign in as Dr. Bob there, grub. Secret's out.
      • Don't get too stressed out, wouldn't want some micro subluxations to develop from awkward posture induced by repeated face palming.
      • You had a good run, and you will go down in history as a trolling legend, so don't feel bad.

        • I was posting on Usenet in the days of Archimedes Plutonium. This guy is an amateur.

          • by cellocgw (617879)

            I was posting on Usenet in the days of Archimedes Plutonium
            I guess the proper answer to that is "me too!"

            Then there was Steve "Speed Bump" [last name redacted], the crank AND troll who spewed all over Software Tool & Die for many a long year.

          • by ChatHuant (801522)

            I was posting on Usenet in the days of Archimedes Plutonium

            Hoo, yes, Archimedes Plutonium; that takes me back. Also, Kibo; also, Serdar Argic. Those were the days, when kooks were real kooks!

          • by Aighearach (97333)

            Looking at your user id, you weren't even born yet! Gotta call BS on that one. USENET is just something you read about on wikipedia.

            • by tehcyder (746570)

              Looking at your user id, you weren't even born yet! Gotta call BS on that one. USENET is just something you read about on wikipedia.

              Not everyone who was using the internet at the time slashdott first appeared immediately registered as a user, you know.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Chiro shill and all-around quack Dr. Bob was found dead in his Maine home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon..

      • Aww... gotta say though, the Dr. Bob troll was by far the best I've seen in the last 15 years or so. Congrats on a brilliant run. Not surprised it was from an old-timer.

      • I'd say it was funny, except you ran the joke into the ground. How much time total did you spend on this little project? Also, you were evidently complaining about slashdot heading down the tubes while injecting shit into every other discussion.

        squid (Score 1) by grub on Thursday September 15, @11:52AM (#37410324) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Low-Cost Tools To Track Employees' Web Use? Use squid and a squid log analyzer. Since when did Ask Slashdot become a Google proxy? Sheesh.

      • Damn, you were bored! Wouldn't mind a post-op JE on the matter...

        Yes, I'm bored too.
      • by gmhowell (26755)

        Stay classy.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      I'm not going to get to the end of my life and think, "Gee, I wish I had spent more time outdoors", either.

      While you're preparing for a good life later, I'm living a good life now. I've seen too many people that only plan for the future, throwing away their life to get some imagined success later. You have to enjoy life NOW.

      Sure, some thought should be put into also having a good life later, but getting outside is not going to do that for me. In fact, it's much more likely that staying inside and working

      • by Dunbal (464142) *
        Yeah like my dad always tells me, those "3 extra years" you get from torturing yourself with diets and exercise are 3 more years in diapers, in an old age home, or running around trying to remember why you keep forgetting everything - not to mention 3 more years you have to try to live with no income.
        • While he's very much correct, I try to think of the quality of life improvements I'll get in my 40s through 60s from regular exercise now.

          That and looking better never hurts things with the ladies.

        • Well...my dad started exercising and eating healthy after putting on weight and being diagnosed diabetic in his 50's. He didn't do that to have a long life. He did it to be healthy enough to go out and do the things he wanted to do (walking tours in Nepal for example) and because he didn't want to end up spending the last part of his life as an invalid or in a care facility because his body slowly failed him.

          He died of his 3rd heart attack while moving furniture up a flight of stairs - from conversations
        • by tehcyder (746570)

          Yeah like my dad always tells me, those "3 extra years" you get from torturing yourself with diets and exercise are 3 more years in diapers, in an old age home, or running around trying to remember why you keep forgetting everything - not to mention 3 more years you have to try to live with no income.

          No offence, but your dad's a cunt.

      • Yeah, that's what's wrong with the world today. Too many people looking at the long term, too few people worrying about shortcuts, quarterly reports, and what to cram down their gullets. Forget all this delayed gratification garbage! Throw off the shackles of a longer and more rewarding life! Our voices will be heard!

        As soon as I finish watching this show.

      • by Xaedalus (1192463)
        Hmmm... does that mean you'll take the long walk when it comes your time then?
      • While you're preparing for a good life later, I'm living a good life now. I've seen too many people that only plan for the future, throwing away their life to get some imagined success later. You have to enjoy life NOW.

        Sure, some thought should be put into also having a good life later, but getting outside is not going to do that for me. In fact, it's much more likely that staying inside and working

        On the contrary, you can be out getting fit and train to become a ninja [shaolin.com] machine. The ultimate career, ninja hacker.

        Signed, Hero Protagonist.

      • I'm not going to get to the end of my life and think, "Gee, I wish I had spent more time outdoors", either.

        Really? The outside world is a fascinating, insanely varied place that really does have to be experienced first hand to be appreciated. It's an enormous amazing world, universe... I can't get the idea that someone would voluntarily miss experiencing most of it and feel happy about that.

        • by Aladrin (926209)

          Really? The world of games is a fascinating, insanely varied place that really does have to be experienced first hand to be appreciated. It's an enormous amazing world, universe... I can't get the idea that someone would voluntarily miss experiencing most of it and feel happy about that.

      • by SomePgmr (2021234)

        I'm not going to get to the end of my life and think, "Gee, I wish I had spent more time outdoors", either.

        Fair enough, though for my part, I think there's a good chance I'll think something just like that. :/

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        In fact, it's much more likely that staying inside and working on the next big thing will do that for me than random nature hikes.

        If you think that getting rich through whatever twatty piece of software you're creating is going to solve all your problems either now or later in life, you're totally fucking deluded.

    • by Aighearach (97333)

      Think about this: at the
      end of your life, you won't look back over the course of your journey and
      think "Gee, I wish I played MORE video games."
       

      Lots of people look back at their lives and say they wish they had spent more time playing, having fun. Those are the times it was all about.

      I recommend also actually reading Snow Crash, because his characters aren't Wall-E material.

    • by Phoghat (1288088)

      Don't go outside into the REAL WORLD to exercise and socialize, just sit on your butt playing video games and pretending the people in the games are your real friends. All the while you get bigger and more unhealthy... eating garbage food and have subluxations grow.

      I'm a 64 year old, American Baby Boomer, like games, read a metric crap load of books,and live in Mexico. I used to weigh in at 235 Lbs. (6'0"). Since I've moved here, I have dropped 40 Lbs., gone down from a size 44 waist to a size 38. So what's your point ?

  • Because there is no link to TFA to R :(
  • I think his new book is out today, anyway.

    I got my hands on an pre-release reader copy and I love it. It reminds me of 'Crytponomicon' in many respects.
  • Needs more minecraft
  • Heh how long before people start playing these games actively... say with a motion joystick like a wii remote, and a pair of AR glasses, so they are now wandering around fighting orcs on quests in real time.

    Wonder how long it would be before someone gets in trouble, probably by not paying attention, or possibly by realistically brandishing something resembling a weapon in a public place?

    • People are already wandering around, not paying attention, and getting in serious trouble with just text messages. That said, I doubt "active" playing will take off until it's either like holodeck but I imagine that a matrix like system would be more likely.

    • by Creepy (93888)

      No need to exercise - there's a pill [msn.com] for that... or will be.

      Kidding aside, I have a friend with a laptop stand on top of her treadmill so she can exercise and play WoW at the same time (actually, I believe she and her hubby quit WoW recently, but my point is she combines exercise with gaming). I usually stationary bike while watching TV, but the only problem is I don't watch much TV. The last show I found worth watching was Game of Thrones. I guess my despising reality TV doesn't help (I live in reality - I

      • Ooo, what a good idea! I've quit WoW (many times) because e-crack is bad for children and health and sleep and jobs and significant other relationships, but putting it on a stand in front of a treadmill makes it exercise and virtuous. Better yet make the treadmill drive a generator and make the generator drive the laptop! Now it's even green!

        Sure, not so great for fine motor control, moving a mouse and clicking on things in realtime while jogging, but that just increases the challenge...

        But enough abo
  • ... really a "metaverse" since it takes enormous amounts of cash to build and maintain the things, if videogames are the metaverse then it's a metaverse everyone will be paying monthly fee's to support to enjoy.

    The game industry is on a slow push enclosing some of their games as MMO's they'd like to eventually enclose all games behind walled gardens with DRM/MMO as copyprotection and then hit us all with monthly fee's. Time will tell if gamers will just take it up the bum like morons. But if league of leg

    • by vlm (69642)

      ...single player game that you actually own may be on it's way out driven by clueless teens as demographics shift.

      Speaking of demographic shift, in the US inflation adjusted income at the median has been dropping steadily for about two generations and shows no signs of improving. Meanwhile the price of things needed (as opposed to luxuries) has been climbing steadily thru natural resource depletion and printing press operations, so the cost of housing, food, transportation, all that has and will increase. So the median masses of the population have less free cash every year, and probably always will. And the plan fo

    • I would argue that desite not outright saying the Metaverse in snowcrash was paid monthly, it probably was. The reality in the novel depicts a free market capitalist "utopia" where everything is owned and licensed and paid for. Nothing in that world escapes ownership and associated costs for access.

  • by LionKimbro (200000) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @12:54PM (#37457402) Homepage

    If you were born in the late 70's, are reading this article, and like fiction, consider reading Ready: Player One. [boingboing.net]

    It's founded on the same premise -- video games become the metaverse. But what if that metaverse was written by Richard Garriott? And cost just one quarter to play? I read it, and just loved it. Even my 10 year old daughter loved it!

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      But what if that metaverse was written by Richard Garriott? And cost just one quarter to play?

      Then I would be losing quarters dying of starvation while searching for reagents.

      • by cobrausn (1915176)
        I see you also spent a bit of time with UO. If I hadn't joined the Navy I probably would have never escaped.
  • by vlm (69642)

    video games like World of Warcraft are the true future of cyberspace

    The artsy craftsy types have been tying to ram that idea down our throats for generations, always with a promise that with just slightly better technology we'll all virtually drive to and then virtually walk around in a 3-d rendered virtual bookstore to find our books using our eyes as our "grep" command and then wait in line in a virtual 3-d line for a virtual 3-d emo slacker teen cashier to ring us up on a virtual 3-d cash register, which we'll pay using digital cash rendered as virtual 3-d gold coins by

    • Pretty much (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @01:33PM (#37457910)

      The future of "cyberspace" is, well, what we've got right now. An open, extensible, infrastructure on which we can run whatever sorts of things we like. Different applications for different things. There will never be a unified interface for everything because, well, why would we want that?

      The brilliance of the Internet and the reason it grew as it did is that there is no lock-in. All you are locked in to is the basic protocol, and all that does is transfer data. Everything past that is up to you. Different needs can have different applications, and those can change over time.

      There is just no reason to want to try to force everything in to one model, and particularly not the model of 3D characters interacting.

    • ...which we'll pay using digital cash rendered as virtual 3-d gold coins by manually moving those simulated virtual coins out of our virtual 3-d rendered pockets and handing them to the emo slacker teen cashier kid who virtually places the virtual coins in the virtual cash register, one at a time.

      I knew it! This is a bitcoin story in disguise! Burn the heretic!!!!!!!

    • by jon3k (691256)
      Yeah virtual 3D environments assume that the best interface is the real world, which is horribly incorrect. Reality is what we got stuck with, that doesn't make it optimal.
  • Second Life is kind of close to the Metaverse. You can run a server on your own equipment. But it also sucks. I mean, it's amazing for what it is, but you can't even build a proper-sized doorway and expect to navigate through it conveniently. What year is it? Let's have third life please.

    In the mean time, while we're talking about Stephenson tech, can we get some decent wearable computers please? Where is my cheap eyetap? :(

    • by demonbug (309515)

      Second Life is kind of close to the Metaverse.

      And it shows just how flawed the idea of the Metaverse is. Hey, let's take all the advantages of a digital world - near instant access to anything anywhere - and throw them all out by modeling the limitations of the physical universe. There's a great idea!

      Efficiency triumphs over the integrated experience of something like the Metaverse. The only place such a construct makes any sense is in a game setting - where, by definition, you are "wasting time", and where arbitrary rules have some chance of being obe

      • "Hey, let's take all the advantages of a digital world - near instant access to anything anywhere - and throw them all out by modeling the limitations of the physical universe."

        So in real life you can fly, teleport, and make objects hang in the air defying gravity? Second Life presents a 3D perspective view, but it doesn't model the physical universe very closely.

        "Sure, there's a place for things like Second Life and WoW - but it is entirely social/gaming as opposed to being of any real use."

        Tell that to t

  • "In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Neal Stephenson says the 'Metaverse' he created in his seminal novel Snow Crash missed the point — and that video games like World of Warcraft are the true future of cyberspace."

    They are?

    Aw. That's really sort of disappointing, given what we were promised.

    Then again, the future IS only the future until it happens. Then it becomes the present, which is never as good as the future was. Maybe when it's the past we can look back on when it was so much better.

    • by Creepy (93888)

      What I think he was trying to say, in context with some of the rest of the article, is that he failed to predict that gaming would be the driving factor for the development of cyberspace rather than corporations driving it to conduct business online. He thinks that video game commerce (like gold selling) will be far bigger than big business commerce and that will be a driving force for development of the internet, and thus his new book seems to be about that or have it an integral plot.

      I don't necessarily t

  • A subject that I thought about a lot after first reading Snow Crash was the concept of "ownership" in the metaverse. If I remember correctly (it's been a few years) the main character was sort of rich because he was in on the metaverse early and owned a bunch of virtual "land". I recall trying to get my head around how ownership could even work in a peer-to-peer system where the bits and pieces of the metaverse are running on various computers and mobile devices around the world.

    Companies like Linden Lab

  • Warcraft is not a good example.
    User created stuff does not exist in Warcraft. It is little more than a dress up show you pop in and out of.

    Worlds like Second Life or Minecraft where you can create structures and influence the world and others can experience it are more like true cycber space.

    • by gmueckl (950314)

      Second Life is the closest we got to cyberspace, but look at how long it lasted. It ended up being a hodgepodge of not quite interesting stuff that got most people bored after a while. What do you do once you've seen everything and chatted and chatted and *yawn* chatted? WoW is different: there is stuff to do. There are attractive areas to roam in, monsters to kill, there is loot to find, there are quests to complete. And from time to time you stop and chat, trade and socialize. This is why WoW actually att

  • That subdomains such as WoW are the collection of uber-cyberdomains (i.e that interweb thingy) in which humans interact more than some others. The Scada domain? Not so much.

    Not sure where facebook falls here. Subdomains evolve, I guess.

  • Yeah. It’s just inherently more interesting to enter into an art directed alternate world, where you can go on adventures and get into fights and engage with the world that way, than it is to enter a world where all you can do is kind of stand around and chat.

    Zing! I guess he doesn't have a fist-full of Linden Dollars he's spent long hours earning.

  • Anyone else put off by the books cover art. It his name in huge white letters on a black background. It looks like an autobiography not a science fiction novel. The title of the book looks like a subtitle to his name.
    • by Aighearach (97333)

      The bigger selling an author is, the bigger their name is printed. It is a standard convention.

  • 1. Doing a disk dupe to binary file might yield a zip files that are corrupt, but if the zip header contains offsets where in the archive a file starts, you might have a use for just the files that you can recovey. You may still be able to unzip the rest. I assume that if this were "mission critical" data, you'd have backups, and that this is mostly a nostalgic recovery. Even if you can't recover all files, you'll have a use for the bits you *can* recover.
    2. Do try the suggestion of using a different drive
  • And Jack Vance (languages of pao), for that matter. The theory is bunk, however popular, and however overwrought the leading contender might be, namely, Noam Chomsky's Universal Base Hypothese. SW is to UBH as alchemy is to the periodic table, so the cheerful sight of Stephenson refusing to take his own pompous bunk seriously is kind of fun.

  • Of his own book.

    We are of course living in the metaverse created by the 31337 memes soon released after the advent of the synthesis of programming and psychology.

    Forcing functions and the like are prevalent and redirecting all our energies in crazy insane ways.

    The major gist of that book is an UR language, that is able to reprogram people without even their knowledge. This is that UR language. Advertising is a window dressing to the real advent of psy-ops running through our brains.

    Well, that may be TMI. I

  • The web was what made the Metaverse age so rapidly. Take a MUD-like centralized world, which people were already familiar with, add on some graphics and you've got something that seems reasonably cool in 1993. But the web guys had already come up with a more promising foundation and were about to hit the mainstream over the head with it. Within a few years, the Metaverse's underpinnings seemed old-fashioned, but you could fix the problem (loosely in your imagination, at least) by stressing the "Protocol"

    • by Whyte (65556)

      Having there just be one Metaverse (as Snow Crash seems to imply) is totally unrealistic, because there will (obviously?!) be so many different visions and agendas for what a metaverse should be. (And even if you limit the discussion to commercial exploitation, that includes deeply incompatible agendas, such as "my profit" vs "your profit.") Not that some won't be very popular, but there will never be one-size-fits-all. It's just human nature that no matter what you have, even if it gets a large userbase, t

    • by lennier (44736)

      The web was what made the Metaverse age so rapidly. Take a MUD-like centralized world, which people were already familiar with, add on some graphics and you've got something that seems reasonably cool in 1993. But the web guys had already come up with a more promising foundation and were about to hit the mainstream over the head with it.

      I used to think that too. In the 1990s it was inconceivable to me that one or two companies could become huge mega-players on the web in the way that Google have, and yet, here we are. And in the gaming world, consoles are still huge and World of Warcraft - liked every other centralised, proprietary, 3D MMO - still exists. Worse, Facebook and the Apple App Store are turning the clock back on the centralised->distributed timeline, and we're heading right back to that 1980s "single owned corporate walled g

      • http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2011/09/top-grids-gain-883-new-regions/ [hypergridbusiness.com]

        There are approaching 20,000 public map regions on "Opensim" grids, many hosted by people on their own PC's. You can even run them standalone instead of networked, but there is no way to count those. The 3D simulator software for hosting those is open-sourced.

        On a different track, HTML5 enables embedded 3D in websites. Not everything needs to be in 3D online, any more than it all needs to be video. What makes sense is to use 3D where

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