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"On-line gaming environments are completely different things... Essentially it's massive global role-playing."
- Peter Watts

Matrix  
  A shared virtual reality space; users project their consciousness into a representation of networked data.  

See the entry for cyberspace, also by William Gibson.

A silver tide of phosphenes boiled across my field of vision as the matrix began to unfold in my head, a 3-D chessboard, infinite and perfectly transparent... If anyone else had been jacked into that part of the matrix, he might have seen a surf of flickering shadow roll out of the yellow pyramid that represented our computer.
From Burning Chrome, by William Gibson.
Published by Not known in 1982
Additional resources -

Here's the same term used in Neuromancer, Gibson's classic 1984 novel.

Case brought the gun around and looked down the line of sight at Deane's pink, ageless face.

`Don't,' Deane said. `You're right. About what this all is. What I am. But there are certain internal logics to be honored. If you use that, you'll see a lot of brains and blood, and it would take me several hours -your subjective time -to effect another spokesperson. This set isn't easy for me to maintain. Oh, and I'm sorry about Linda, in the arcade. I was hoping to speak through her, but I'm generating all this out of your memories, and the emotional charge... Well, it's very tricky. I slipped. Sorry.'

Case lowered the gun. `This is the matrix. You're Wintermute.'

`Yes. This is all coming to you courtesy of the simstim unit wired into your deck, of course. I'm glad I was able to cut you off before you'd managed to jack out.' Deane walked around the desk, straightened his chair, and sat down. `Sit, old son. We have a lot to talk about.'

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Burning Chrome
  More Ideas and Technology by William Gibson
  Tech news articles related to Burning Chrome
  Tech news articles related to works by William Gibson

Matrix-related news articles:
  - Virtual Faces With Personality And Emotion
  - 'My Boss Is A Robot' Project Automates Journalism

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