To Play, Perchance to Battle – Ay There’s the Rub!

Before fully grasping the concepts of the Metaverse in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, I imagined the Metaverse as a simple game with small characters similar to a colorless version of the Super Mario Bros. I thought of the game as cartoonish, bleak, and hardly three-dimensional.

This however, is the beauty of imagination.

Though my thoughts where way off target from Stephenson’s particular viewpoint of his own novel, (and everyone else’s viewpoint for that matter) who’s to say my imagined Metaverse wasn’t a well enough assumption?

No one can! My own thoughts and imagination are just as good as the nerdy kid who sits across from me, who thinks he figured out the meaning of life at age 9. I’m entitled to my own thoughts despite how unsound they may be.

I’ve always considered myself to be a dreamer; so living in an imaginary world is very common for me. Like every teenage girl, I liked to dream up my future down to my kids names and birth dates; it’s a chick thing! This is why reading about combat with swords and spears in Snow Crash, is far more engaging to me than virtual combat in LOTRO.

Now that I understand that the Metaverse is actually more of an outgrowth of the Interent and is a fully immersive three-dimensional virtual world, I now imagine the place more like The Matrix or maybe even like Star Wars. (What, I need some type of reference point!)

I imagine the swards and spears clinking together the way lightsabers do, and everyones characters are made out of a million different numbers. The idea of being able to dream up my own battlefield of the Metaverse is simply far more appealing then playing a game like LOTRO where I am limited to killing one thing at a time, using one weapon at a time, and living in one virtual battlefield that has already been designed for me.

Though it is compelling and engaging to battle in LOTRO, (my little hobbit looks so cute taking on the giant Spider) I would much rather have a battle in my head without any boundaries. I can always throw in some other random characters that aren’t even in the book and out of nowhere start slaying dragons. Because that boys and girls is the beauty of imagination; to read, perchance to imagine – ay there’s no rub!



“It’s only a matter of time.”

~ By Jim B. on 10/03/08 3:45 pm

Many aspects of the future as seen in Snow Crash are drastically different from the world we know today. Obviously, human technology in the novel is highly advanced compared to what most Americans today see and use in their daily lives. That being said, I find this level of advancement very plausible. Look at our history: invention and technology have always progressed by leaps and bounds, so it would follow that the people of the future will have some pretty crazy stuff to play with.

Following this theme of progression, let’s take a look at some of the motorists in Snow Crash -specifically those that drive what Stephenson refers to as “Bimbo Boxes.” Whenever Stephenson makes mention of such “Bimbo Boxes,” I find myself imagining a slow-moving, SUV-esque vehicle being driven by a rather non-attentive or careless person (Y.T. doesn’t seem to have any trouble hitching a ride behind them anyway). This image is strikingly reminiscent of a stereotype that has recently emerged in our culture today, that of the… oh, how to put this ? … dangerous female driver talking on a cell phone while nearly wiping out a crosswalk full of unsuspecting pedestrians. Justified or not, it’s a stereotype that seems to say “it’s only a matter of time” before we arrive at the era of Snow Crash.

Another somewhat shocking aspect of Stephenson’s future is the widespread substance abuse among teenagers. Well, maybe it’s not so shocking. It’s definitely not pleasant, especially because it’s already happening today. Children are becoming exposed to drugs and alcohol at younger and younger ages, and more and more supposed role models have been caught abusing steroids and the like. It’s a problem that doesn’t seem to be getting any better: it’s only a matter of time.

Aha, sorry to end on such a low note – Snow Crash seems to be full of ’em. 😀