Wednesday, April 14, 2004


In my SXSW talk last month, I called Second Life a "MMOCA", for "Massively Multiplayer Online Creative Agora". More than anything, that was my way of trying to wriggle out of the "MMORPG" term that gets reflexively fixed to any persistent multi-user online world. (Plus, MMOCA's pronounced like the tasty, chocolaty drink. Yum yum!) Then again, I'm also not enamored with "online world" or "virtual world", which are also terms for SL that come up often, but don't really seem to pin down the essence of what it is.

I put the challenge to readers of my forum, and unsurprisingly, they had their own ideas. More than a few were quite happy with "virtual world", while a couple reached backed to the old school days of text-driven worlds for "MUSH" (i.e., Multi User Shared Hallucination), while several insisted on "Metaverse". (Though I'm fairly sure Neal Stephenson gets a twenty seven cent royalty check in the mail, any time someone uses that word.)

So what do you call a persisent online world simultaneously inhabited by thousands of people, where genre role playing is possible, but creativity is the fundamental medium of exchange? A few candidates emerged, and some of them are even catchy.

Cybin Monde suggested "MMUDOW", for Massively Multiplayer User Defined Online World, while Darque Grimm's offering was "MMMW", for Massively Multiplayer Malleable World. The scramble for acronyms continued with Carnildo Greenacre's "MMOE", for Massively Multiplayer Online Environment, and Jack Orlowski's "MMOC", for Massivly Multi-user Online Community, and Chromal Brodsky's "MSDCICF", for Multiuser Shared Digital Communication, Interaction, and Creation Framework, and Xavier VonLenard's "MMRS", for Massive Multiplayer Reality Simulator.

While previously discussing a medium like Second Life, Rathe Underthorn and friends have come up with "GNORK", for Graphical Nexus of Ontological Rhetoric and "K"reativity. Even more tongue-in-cheek (and perhaps inspired by all the hijinx that goes on in the Mature-rated sims, after dark) Govindira Galatea put forth "PERV", for Persistent Enhanced Reality Virtual.

"I just call it a game," writes Cienna Rand. "But if you're one of the people who froths at the mouth when you hear that, parse it as 'Generic Application for Multiuser Experiences'."

The search, I suspect, continues...

Posted at 07:24 AM | Permalink


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While I think Metaverse is perfect, I also see it as some how sacred, and not to be used on something else. I do however like ADR Alternate Digital Reality

Thanks a lot


Posted by: Jeff Lovett at Apr 14, 2004 7:08:08 PM

I'm all for "metaverse," and hope it becomes a more prolific term as environments like Second Life multiply. It's a simple, catchy (and catch-all) moniker for worlds that go far and beyond those of simply games.

Posted by: Hummus Fonzarelli at Apr 15, 2004 12:38:51 AM

I like ADR, too.

> hope it becomes a more prolific term as
> environments like Second Life multiply

In some not too distant future, I can even
imagine online worlds like Second Life having
portals into other online worlds-- very much
the way you can bounce around various web-
based messaging board communities, except
you'd be doing it in 3D. At that point, if
that happens, I think, yeah, everyone will
throw up their hands and just call the whole
interconnected thing "the Metaverse".

Posted by: Hamlet Linden at Apr 15, 2004 1:51:13 AM

..eh, i still like my other suggestion as well.. it calls up the image of a Metaverse, without claiming the title..

- Betaverse

..it's the Metaverse in training :)

Posted by: Cybin Monde at Apr 15, 2004 3:15:53 PM

I use the term "synthetic worlds". Seems to capture most of the basics...

Posted by: Fred Hapgood at Apr 19, 2004 7:31:32 PM

Massive Online Virtual Interactive Enviroment

that won't confuse anyone ;-)

Posted by: bbc at Apr 20, 2004 2:13:26 PM