We’ll meet you in the metaverseon 17 February 2023 for Tech Graduates
Key takeaways of an inspirational session by Pieter Van Leugenhagen
We recently hosted an inspirational session about the Metaverse for our alumni. In this article, we’d like to share with you the key takeaways of this evening. If you were there, what must you remember? And if you weren’t there – boooo! – what must you know?
Who is Pieter Van Leugenhagen?
- Gen Y’er, born in 1984
- VR/AR & Metaverse Strategist
- Co-founder and Managing Partner of immersive tech agency Yondr
- Author of ‘Welkom in de Metaverse’ (Borgerhoff & Lamberigts, 2022)
- Keynote speaker on all things AR, VR and XR
What is the Metaverse?
We’ve all heard of the metaverse, and most of us think we have a (vague) idea of what it is. Some may think the term was invented by Mark Zuckerberg, others know it was first introduced by science-fiction writer Neal Stephenson in 1992. In any case, we’ve never heard anyone explain it quite as clearly as Pieter Van Leugenhagen: “the metaverse is the internet in 3D.” So instead of looking at your screen, like most of us do today, we’ll be immersed in a 3D experience.
First of all, the metaverse is not the same as virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). VR and AR are devices or media to enter or engage with metaverse experiences or 3-dimensionalisations of the internet. But one of the basic principles of the metaverse, is that it should be accessible across different computing platforms: not just through your VR-goggles, but on mobile, tablet, pc and laptop alike.
Avatar representations and a sense of presence are also very important in the metaverse. You need to have the feeling that you’re actually there, that you can interact with the virtual world around you. When you’re sitting at the table in a virtual meeting room, for example, and someone is talking on your right, then you will hear it more in your right ear. If someone is talking at the other end of the table, it will be more quiet, just like it would be in real life.
Finally, the metaverse is also a commercial space. You’re able to buy and own virtual goods. Ideally, there will be what we call interoperability between the different platforms. Meaning that when you buy a Nike T-shirt for your avatar, for instance, you can appear on a Zoom call wearing your T-shirt, and then wear it to a virtual concert on Roblox a few hours later. You would own the T-shirt, and if one of the platforms went away, you would still have it.
The metaverse offers many opportunities. For recruitment, for example, but also for educational purposed. Thanks to the metaverse, learning can become a much more interactive experience. Instead of snoozing through a boring professor talking unappealingly about ancient Rome, you might instead visit a 3D representation of ancient Rome like you’re actually there. You could listen to a debate, watch a gladiator game, or witness Caesar getting stabbed 23 times on the steps of the Senate.
Sceptics and non-believers may call the whole thing science-fiction. But as we all know, many science-fiction dreams have become reality already. A self-driving car is not just on Knight Rider anymore! And don’t forget, in 1995 people reacted to the idea of the internet in much the same way as they react to the metaverse today. Laughing it off, saying it’s unnecessary, seeing it mainly as a threat. But just like we can hardly imagine a world without the internet nowadays, in a decade or so we might feel the same about the metaverse.
The gaming generations
For those of us born prior to 1995, it might all sound a bit strange, or even silly. Buying a virtual closet full of designer clothes for your avatar? We can hear some eyes rolling and eyebrows raising amongst you, Gen X & Y readers. But for Gen Z, this isn’t so quirky at all. Generation Z is the first generation to grow up entirely in the digital age. According to a recent study by Razorfish and Vice Media, 52% of Gen Z’ers even feel more themselves in the metaverse than they do in real life. 65% believe their online relationships are just as meaningful as their offline ones, and 1 in 2 feels gaming actually improves their mental health.
Since Gen X, each generation has been gaming more than the last one. Today, gaming is everywhere. We bet even your mum plays Candy Crush now, doesn’t she? So for a generation this engaged in the metaverse, it should come as no surprise that they would want to spend some money there as well. According to the study, 15% of Gen Z’s ‘fun budget’ is already spent in the metaverse today. A number that expectedly will only go up.
Go where your audience is
It’s one of the oldest rules of marketing: location, location, location! You need to be where your audience is. In a few years’ time, Gen Z will be the majority of consumers. But they are deleting their Facebook profiles, throwing out cable tv, and skipping ads on YouTube. So where can you reach this generation of consumers? The answer: in the metaverse.
Recently, Belgian fashion brand JBC launched a collab with pop artist Camille on Roblox. Over 55,000 people visited JBC’s virtual world for Camille’s performance. The singer only spent a few hours in the studio whereas it would usually take several concert nights and weeks of rehearsals to reach that big of an audience in real life. Now if that’s not smart, we don’t know what is.
Believe the hype
For those familiar with Gartner’s hype cycle, we can say that the events of March 2020 got us out of the trough of disillusionment and onto the slope of enlightenment. Covid-19 was a catalyst for the rise of social VR platforms, as the metaverse was called in those days. Yondr shifted their focus from creating VR-videos to building virtual worlds, organising virtual events and developing VR collaboration software, and business started to boom.
Long story short: it’s time to get with the hype and believe it’s here to stay. Start experimenting with the metaverse today, if you still want to be relevant in 10 years. We’ve all seen what happens to brands who ignore evolutions in the market. If you know that huge brands like Nike, Tomorrowland and Disney already added a Chief Metaverse Officer to their C-suite, you should understand that the metaverse is no joke.
Want to know more about the metaverse? ‘Welkom in de Metaverse’ by Pieter Van Leugenhagen is available now!
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