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  • Writer's pictureFrancesca Fini

The Metaverse of Metaphors

The Metaverse of Metaphors is an engaging virtual world that I created for Il Senso delle Parole, a project based on scientific research curated by Eikon and promoted by Takeda Italy. This Metaverse invites exploration through a virtual journey across four symbolic worlds, each illustrating the power of metaphors used in oncology by patients, doctors, and caregivers.

Visitors, represented by their avatars, begin in a surreal Waiting Room, where the familiar world is turned upside down. From there, they are guided into the world of Metamorphosis, where transformation and change dominate. The journey continues through the realms of War and Journey, each representing different facets of the oncological experience.

This project holds special significance for me, as it is one of the most important and impactful initiatives I have undertaken.


In the Metaverse of Metaphors, you enter by choosing an Avatar. A virtual world that, however, works like the real one: the Avatar falls, gets up, overcomes obstacles, gets lost, and finds its way again. Just like someone living with an oncological condition, whose journey is marked by hopes, setbacks, and triumphs.

The first world, the Waiting Room, serves as a kind of Antechamber, a fiery realm where the Avatar is unceremoniously thrust, falling from a peaceful waiting room that suddenly turns upside down beneath their feet. This world physically embodies the ubiquitous metaphor in narratives of "the ground disappearing beneath one's feet," "the world turning upside down," and one's daily life being shattered by "a bolt from the blue."

In this surreal environment, visitors experience the profound disorientation and upheaval that often accompany a sudden and unexpected diagnosis. The familiar, stable world is abruptly transformed into a chaotic and unpredictable landscape, mirroring the emotional and psychological turmoil faced by those grappling with oncological conditions. The Waiting Room powerfully conveys the initial shock and sense of instability that patients and their loved ones endure, setting the stage for the transformative journey that lies ahead in the Metaverse of Metaphors.

The World of Metamorphosis begins in a desert: an open and barren place, ready to embrace new symbols and signs. However, it is also a bright and sunny location, designed to dispel the darkness of the Antechamber. Here, participants start to face their first challenges: navigating rugged paths, climbing, getting lost, searching for, and finding hidden objects. This world symbolizes the theme of personal and inner transformation brought about by illness.

In this luminous environment, visitors embark on a journey of self-discovery and growth. The desert, though initially stark and desolate, represents a blank canvas for new beginnings and possibilities. As participants traverse this challenging terrain, they engage in metaphorical activities that reflect the struggles and triumphs experienced by those dealing with a serious illness. Each obstacle overcome and each hidden object found signify the resilience and strength developed through the transformative process of facing and managing their condition. The World of Metamorphosis thus becomes a powerful metaphor for the personal evolution and inner change that illness can inspire.

The World of War is a visceral, immersive environment that reflects the brutal reality of battling a serious illness. This realm is etched into the very flesh of those who explore it, representing how the disease aggressively infiltrates the body. The space is dominated by visuals of bones, blood, and tissues, creating a haunting landscape that mirrors the physical and emotional toll of the struggle.

Visitors in this world experience the relentless assault on their body, symbolizing the invasive nature of the illness. The imagery of bones and blood invading the space is a powerful metaphor for the way disease permeates every aspect of a patient's life, affecting their physical health, mental well-being, and emotional state. This world captures the essence of the internal and external battles fought daily by patients, offering a stark reminder of the resilience required to confront such an adversary.

The World of Journey, in contrast, offers a serene and uplifting experience. This realm is depicted as a hill bathed in the warm, golden light of a magnificent sunset. The setting is high, lush, and visually restful, providing a stark contrast to the harshness of the World of War. This ethereal landscape is designed to inspire hope, courage, and a sense of adventure.

In this tranquil environment, visitors are encouraged to embark on a metaphorical journey, symbolizing the pursuit of new horizons and personal growth despite the challenges of their illness. The beautiful sunset represents the promise of a new day, the light at the end of the tunnel, and the beauty that can still be found amidst adversity. The lush, green surroundings signify renewal and life, offering a space for reflection, relaxation, and rejuvenation.

The World of Journey is a place where patients can envision their path forward, embracing the adventures and possibilities that lie ahead. It encourages them to look beyond their current struggles, fostering a sense of optimism and the belief that, despite the difficulties, there is still much to explore and experience. This world serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring quest for meaning and purpose.

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