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Backstage At The Metaverse: Part One | A Lack of Experience

GameBench Staff

PIQ 22.01

Making sense of the metaverseWhat IS it, actually?

While GameBench is entirely concerned with user experience and the impacts of performance – primarily but not exclusively in gaming – we’ve abstained until now from joining the diverse, shrill and still bewildering debate about the metaverse.

Clearly UX, which has, remarkably, been almost entirely AWOL from the discourse to date, will be the make or break here. So it’s strange, even alarming, that the “if we build it, they will come” assumptions have been rife. Time to open up this line of enquiry, and to that end, this is the first in a short series of Performance IQ releases that aims to redress the balance.

The first response from any UX professional to the metaverse would be, “When we know what it is, we can talk about the customer experience that’s implied, and from there we can go into the user experience.”

But perhaps, in this case, we should be looking through the other end of the telescope. Surely, in fact, the entire conversation should start with the user value that the metaverse represents and could deliver. To date, the assumption seems to be that the nature of the customer experience is already established, and the metaverse will just deliver a lot more of that, to a lot more people, at scale. Meta is totally committed. Epic and Nvidia too. So what’s not to like?

The potential of what we might call the “secondary” metaverse-enabling technologies – the ever-present blockchain, crypto, and NFTs are cases in point – that is so frequently referenced is intriguing. No wonder more and more are searching how to make money with NFTs. Some investors are clearly fascinated, and virtual land and artworks are scuffled over, with plenty of associated media coverage.

These developments in themselves, however, still tell us little or nothing about why the experience might be satisfying for more than a few users. As long as the customer experience of a cluster of supposedly revolutionary services remains unchallenged and unexplored, the metaverse remains a massive sandwich of declared opportunity. But lacking a filling.

Network ExpectationsSome known knowns

The dynamics that concern us are emerging from what is still, despite its apparent familiarity, a very new, networked modality of human experience. This took flight into cyberspace in the quarter-century since the arrival of the World Wide Web, massively extended and deepened its cultural and commercial range and penetration with the now-universal smartphone, and has more recently come back to earth, already profoundly altered, and further extended by the promises of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, with the still-embryonic Internet of Things.

Washington Post and the Metaverse

In fact, when we speak of the convergence of the physical and the digital – a common and central feature of the metaverse discourse – we are invariably referring to phenomena that depend entirely upon the continuing growth and ubiquity of network penetration and computing. That understood we come to recognise that, highly transformative though the promise of the metaverse may be, this will be far from a revolutionary big bang, but a continuous evolution, one that will mostly proceed along already familiar technological and behavioural paths and patterns.

Wherever and however we choose to focus, this narrative has to date been, and will broadly continue to be, most simply and productively framed in terms of parallel and intimately linked developments in connectedness and intelligence. How these two tracks extend forward and outward while feeding off each other’s innovations and evolutions, will determine the infrastructure that will underpin the new experiences we need to understand and articulate.

Performance measurement and network operatorsThe possible. And the valuable.

We tend, still, after all this time, to get caught up mistaking the excitement for the technologically possible, with the reality of the commercially valuable. It’s the latter – what customers, consumers … human beings! – are willing to invest time, attention and money into, that takes a promising invention and turns it into a true innovation. This is what actually drives disruption, and it’s also what makes opportunities successfully investable.

metaverse - bbc

Today, we have well over a quarter-century of deep, diverse, and worldwide evidence as to what works, what doesn’t, and (mostly) how and why when it comes to developing and taking to market new digital experiences. We also have most, albeit not all, of the critical engineering building blocks already in hand and well understood. So what’s possible, and what’s valuable, can from here, and with unprecedented confidence, be considered together.

Getting real about the virtual

Following on the heels of all the previous hype cycles, we now have the metaverse. No need here to quote all of the many vocal and influential proponents of this new world. Suffice it to say for now, that many of them come out of gaming and social media. Some have the luxury of giant user bases, benefitting from massive network effects. Most of these have a lot of money to spend, not needing to worry, at least in the short- to mid-term, as to whether those investments produce returns.

As the metaverse gains momentum and captures the imagination of many, individuals need reliable guidance to navigate the complexities of investment choices. Amidst the excitement, seeking advice from a trusted financial advisor becomes even more critical. A knowledgeable financial advisor can help individuals assess their risk tolerance, financial goals, and time horizon, providing valuable insights into creating a well-rounded investment strategy. They can offer personalized solutions that cater to the unique needs of each client, whether it involves exploring the potential of the metaverse or considering stable assets like gold. For instance, residents in Portsmouth, NH, can benefit from consulting a reputable financial advisor Portsmouth NH, who understands the intricacies of the digital age and the significance of diversification in an investment portfolio. By working hand-in-hand with an experienced advisor, individuals can make informed decisions and embark on a path to long-term financial security and success.

Amidst the excitement and anticipation surrounding the metaverse and its potential impact on our lives, it’s essential to maintain a balanced perspective and consider alternative investment options that can provide stability and long-term value. One such option is gold, a tangible asset that has stood the test of time as a store of wealth and a hedge against economic uncertainties. As we navigate through the ever-evolving digital landscape, the reliability and intrinsic value of gold offer a sense of security and diversification. Investing in gold allows individuals to tap into a time-tested asset class that can provide stability and potential growth. To explore the benefits of gold investment and make informed decisions, it is crucial to find the best gold dealer who can guide you through the process and offer valuable insights tailored to your financial goals. Find the best gold dealer and discover the potential advantages of including gold in your investment portfolio.

Perhaps because of these enormous budgets, we can get easily excited and swept up in the “prestalgia”. And yet, looking back over the enormous changes in the way the world lives, works, and plays since the arrival of the World Wide Web in the mid-90s, there now exist, perhaps for the first time, pragmatic foundations for insight and guidance.
metaverse - neuromancer

Every disruptive new technology that makes it to the market represents a significant and widespread behavioural change. To reiterate, disruption is rooted in changes in how we live, work, and play. The Web, the smartphone, Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, WeChat, Uber, Netflix, Spotify, and the rest all reflect, above all, profoundly new modalities.

So in trying to make sense of the metaverse, while technological feasibility – the possible – is of course critical, it’s equally (we would argue even more) critical to ask, based on everything we’ve learned to date, just how our behaviours might change, how that might change the ways we live and … well … as a real human being, just how that might feel. Where, in fact, is the value?

Part Two of “Backstage At The Metaverse” will hit your inboxes in two weeks.

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