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Is Metaverse multimedia?

The metaverse has been a hot topic in the past year. Besides the hype and the question, of whether it will be the next big thing or just another failed technology (such as 3D TV), it could be asked if the metaverse is multimedia. The following is a formal verification of this question. First, a description of the metaverse is needed, followed by a definition of multimedia and finally, the verification of the metaverse is multimedia.

What is the Metaverse

It isn’t easy to describe the metaverse precisely, because it is under heavy development. The term was coined in Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash. Over time, it went through some iterations until the current climax, decided to rebrand to meta and go all in into the metaverse. Avi Bar-Zeev visualized the different stages of the metaverse perfectly.

A graph showing the various terms for Metaverse, from Information Superhighway to Cyberspace to Virtual Reality and on. These go up and down over time, but the sum of the waves marches slowly up and to the right.

As the metaverse is under development, the width of the definition is broader. Mystakidis defined the metaverse as follows:

“The Metaverse is the post-reality universe, a perpetual and persistent multiuser environment merging physical reality with digital virtuality. It is based on the convergence of technologies that enable multisensory interactions with virtual environments, digital objects and people such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Hence, the Metaverse is an interconnected web of social, networked immersive environments in persistent multiuser platforms. It enables seamless embodied user communication in real-time and dynamic interactions with digital artifacts. Its first iteration was a web of virtual worlds where avatars were able to teleport among them. The contemporary iteration of the Metaverse features social, immersive VR platforms compatible with massive multiplayer online video games, open game worlds and AR collaborative spaces.” [1]

Following this definition, for the verification, if metaverse is multimedia, these aspects are relevant

  • “physical reality with digital virtuality”
  • “multisensory interactions with virtual environments, digital objects and people”
  • “real-time and dynamic interactions with digital artefacts”
  • “immersive VR platforms compatible with massively multiplayer online video games”

In summary, the metaverse is a not-only digital virtuality with interactions, similar to a video game. Next, the definition of Multimedia will be discussed.

Definition of Multimedia

There is no distinct definition of the term multimedia. Some definitions have been formulated and they have a common ground, which is enough for the verification. In the book “Multimedia making it work”, Vaughan [2] summarized multimedia as “any combination of text, art, sound, animation, and video delivered to you by computer or other electronic or digitally manipulated means.” [2, p. 1] He mentioned examples:

  • “At the arcade, it’s goggle-faced kids flying fighter planes in sweaty, virtual reality.” [2, p. 0]
  • “It’s a real-time video conference” [2, p. 0]
  • “At the convergence of technology and creative invention in multimedia is virtual reality or VR. Goggles, helmets, special gloves, and bizarre human interfaces attempt to place you “inside” a lifelike experience.” [2, p. 9]

He also describes the difference between linear and non-linear multimedia. Linear has a beginning, a sequence and an end. When users can decide where to go next with multiple options, it is non-linear. Further, he defines: “when you allow an end user—also known as the viewer of a multimedia project—to control what and when the elements are delivered, it is called interactive multimedia.”

Another description comes from Klimsa: “numerous hardware and software technologies for integrating digital media, such as text, pixel images, graphics, video or sound. In addition to this media aspect – multimedia – interactivity, multitasking (simultaneous execution of several processes) and parallelism (in terms of parallel media presentation) also play an important role.” [3, p. 3f]

Weidenmann adds two formal criteria for media, to be multimedia [4]: “multicoding” (german Multikodierung, translation not available) and multimodality. Multicoding describes that the media exists in two types, e.g. a piece of information is encoded in the type of text and type of image. Whereas multimodal means, that two or more types of media form a single artefact, like the “televised weather forecast (medium) involves understanding spoken language, written language, weather specific language (such as temperature scales), geography, and symbols (clouds, sun, rain, etc.).” [5]

With this body of knowledge about the term multimedia, the verification can be done in the next section.

Conclusion – Is Metaverse multimedia?

The metaverse is merging physical reality with digital virtuality. Digital virtuality involves video, audio and haptic feedback. Within the metaverse, this media can have different forms. A virtual TV shows a video or in a virtual art gallery pictures are presented and audio can be the explanation of a guide or ambient noise. According to Vaughans definition, the metaverse is a combination of at least video and sound, delivered to you by a computer.

As the metaverse is a multiuser platform, other people are physically or virtually present, moving around and talking to each other, like in a video conference. People can also interact with digital objects or even real objects (with IoT). Therefore, the metaverse allows multisensory interactivity, multitasking and parallelism, which makes it multimedia according to Klimas description. The interaction has no beginning, order and end. It is a persistent world, where people can join and leave all the time, it is categorized as non-linear multimedia.

Finally, the two criteria from Weidenmann should be examined. Since the metaverse is a complex virtual world, in some scenarios it involves multicoded information. If a user is in a virtual museum, she can read a description of a historic situation, along with images, pictorial timelines and ambient sound of this situation. In this case, the metaverse has multicoded information. If a user is staying in a garden, listening to bird sounds, there is no multicoded information. Some could argue, that the presentation of a garden as video along with ambient noise is multicoded information, because it gives the user the information, that the garden looks and sound like this. Anyway, it clearly shows, that Weidenmanns second criterion, multimodality, is fulfilled.

With this matching of the properties of the metaverse and the characteristics of multimedia, it is verified, that the metaverse is multimedia.



[1] Mystakidis, S. (2022). Metaverse. Encyclopedia, 2(1), 486-497.

[2] Vaughan, T. (2011). Multimedia: Making it work. McGraw-Hill, Inc.

[3] Issing, L. J., & Klimsa, P. (2002). Informationen und Lernen mit Multimedia und Internet. Weinheim.

[4] Weidenmann, B. (2001): Lernen mit Medien. In: A. Krapp & B. Weidenmann (Hrsg.): Pädagogische Psychologie (S. 415–466), Weinheim: PVU. 4. Aufl.

[5] Wikipedia (2022), Multimodality,, last accessed 11th Nov. 2022.

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