It’s the question we’ve all been asking. Well, maybe some of us.
Okay, we know it’s not as burning of a problem as whether to use an Oxford Comma. Still, it does raise some questions about the genesis of this novel digital term and capitalization conventions in general.
Should metaverse be capitalized? By just reading that sentence, you already have your answer, but let’s explore and demystify the term a bit more and discover some common capitalization rules.
Journey Into the Metaverse
First, what’s the metaverse?
The first mention of the term goes all the way back to 1992 and the science fiction novel Snow Crash. Fast forward to 2023, and the term is still used to define immersive digital worlds that string together things like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other emerging technologies like web3.
Here are a few defining factors that make the metaverse unique relative to, say, a video game world:
Immersive experiences: the metaverse will allow us to experience the world in a more immersive way than ever before. We’ll be able to interact with virtual objects and people in a way that feels real.
Social connection: the metaverse will provide us with new ways to connect with people from all over the world. We’ll be able to attend virtual events, collaborate on projects and even play games together.
Economic opportunity: the metaverse will create new opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs. We’ll be able to create and sell virtual goods and services, and we’ll be able to build new businesses that exist entirely in the metaverse.
You’ve probably heard the term and seen some news around the implementation of metaverse technology through ventures like Facebook’s rebranding as Meta.
While we’re still pretty early in the development of these virtual worlds, that hasn’t stopped the fervor from reaching a fever pitch. Brands are racing to stake their digital claim, oftentimes a bit too quickly (looking at you, Meta).
Even though the term seems a reflection of the digital future, we already have a few metaverses in existence today. If you remember Second Life, a popular Sims-like game from the early 2000s, you have a bit more of an understanding of what a metaverse looks like in practice.
Should You Capitalize Metaverse
So, using this explanation, how can we answer our original question?
Well, if you’re referring to a theoretical collective virtual shared space that’s created by the convergence of physical and virtual reality, metaverse is then a common term — therefore, keep that “m” lowercase.
But, if it’s referring to a specific product or specific metaverse, you should capitalize as we’re stepping into proper noun territory.
For instance, if we’re talking about Meta’s Metaverse, you should capitalize.
Here are some examples:
Proper noun: I’m excited to explore Second Life’s Metaverse.
Generic term: the metaverse is still in its early stages, but I'm excited to explore it soon.
Is This Problem Unique?
It’s important to note that language and its usage change over time. While the term metaverse is 30 years old, it’s only now getting noticed and thrown around.
In the tech field, these issues come up every once in a while. Moreover, conventions that seem standard now might change in the future.
Both the terms “internet” and “web” have seen changes in their capitalization over the years.
What does this mean for you, the writer? Well, it means you should stay on top of style guides, get a good grip on capitalization rules and find a few trusted sources to refer to when you’re second-guessing yourself.