The metaverse is a nascent space that’s currently being developed by some of the most advanced countries such as the United Arab Emirates, South Korea and China. As well as behemoth tech companies around the globe including Meta, Microsoft and Epic Games.
In addition to the aforementioned countries and companies, many organisations are investing hefty amounts of money in the metaverse, a virtual world that’s intended to allow people to interact with friends and family in a computer-generated and multidimensional virtual world. One that could turn out to be the Oasis of the real world if you’ve seen Warner Bros.’ 2018 Sci-fi/Adventure film Ready Player One.
Although it’s still being perfected and is nowhere near global utilisation, the metaverse is tipped to become a multi-trillion-dollar market with potentially billions of users by 2030. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls it “the future of the internet,” and this next iteration of how we interact might go on to reshape the way people socialise, work and learn.
Ultimately, the success of the metaverse, like many social spaces, will have little to do with the amount of money that’s heaped into it without first being a safe space for all individuals. Here are three ways to build an inclusive and safe metaverse.
1 – Accessible to All
Accessibility doesn’t always mean not putting a service or product behind a paywall or some sort of security. In the case of the metaverse as a platform that’s designed to give people the freedom to do things they otherwise may not be able to do in real life, accessibility could see the nascent space come to life sooner than we think. And one way to make the metaverse accessible is to make more affordable VR headsets.
A recent survey by KPMG in the US has found that 38% of consumers are concerned about affordable access to metaverse technology. If the metaverse isn’t created with low-cost connectivity to ensure broad adoption, then it’s likely going to be a space that only those who have the means to purchase expensive gadgets can access.
2 – Inclusivity
Hardly anybody would want to spend time in a virtual world where they can’t look the way they want. KPMG’s survey also showed that 36% of US consumers say customization options for avatars are most important for an inclusive metaverse experience. This shows that individuals want the liberty to appear unique and be allowed to choose from a diverse library of avatars.
Although the metaverse is still in its early development stages, companies like Meta and Ready Player Me are already letting individuals unique create avatars. Though it may take a while for the metaverse to reach a solid level of inclusivity, it can be achieved if developed thoughtfully and intentionally.
3 – Trust and Security
The survey showed that privacy and protecting personal information were the most significant concerns among US consumers, at 80% and 79% respectively. People want to feel secure, be it in real life or in a virtual world. Although the EU’s Interpol is already working on creating a police unit in the metaverse to stop offences like harassment, industry leaders also know that security, compliance and regulatory issues are some of the impediments that’ll hinder the success of the metaverse.
Also, connected wallets and blockchain-verified avatars will help verify and protect users’ identities and digital assets. However, sometimes the security protocols on these platforms aren’t enough to stop cybercrimes and just like the current iteration of the internet we have, there will also be actual crimes in the metaverse.
Hopefully, the EU, like Dubai, will crack down on potential crimes in the virtual world after releasing a 14-page internal document last year that states, “Although still under construction, the Metaverse holds the potential for violent extremists to exert influence in new ways through fear, threat and coercion.”