Tuesday , 3 October 2023
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Interview with metaverse expert Guillaume at Digitevent (*)

Interview with metaverse expert Guillaume at Digitevent (*)

1- What is the metaverse really in this case?

The very concept of the metaverse is based on the decentralization of servers. That is, each universe belongs directly to the users ….
The metaverse that the media are talking about today do not respect this, they are big companies like Facebook (Meta) that synchronize their servers and take control of the universes in question.
As Thomas Husson, an analyst at Forrester Research, says in a LinkedIn post: “Every virtual reality or gaming experience is being rebranded as a ‘metaverse’ but this is not fundamentally new. Obviously, we are moving towards a more immersive, more virtual Internet where we can share experiences (and not just content) in real time and with a community of users, but does this really deserve the name of “metaverse”? It is a transition that will take place not over 2022 but over a decade.

2- The metaverse, how does it work technically? Can everyone access it?

The metaverse, to exist, only needs an internet connection, servers, and a PC. For the experience to be truly representative of the metaverse’s objective, namely to access an interconnected, immersive and permanent 360° digital world, it is obvious that a virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) headset is recommended. So to answer the question, yes, everyone can access it but not everyone has the right tools and does not have the financial ability to buy them or the knowledge to use them. The concept still needs further technological advances and research, today it is still too early to simply type on google “access a metaverse event” and step directly into a new universe.

3- If everyone can access it precisely, are there any dangers, risks? Is there any legislation surrounding the concept of the metaverse?

Indeed, today with the metaverse that we are currently experiencing, I see two major dangers. Firstly, access and control of user data. The metaverse is an ecosystem that is nowadays controlled (and not created!) by large international groups that take advantage of it to collect data and sell it. It is important to know that the internet culture is very different from real life, the issues are not the same.
The second danger is anonymity and the lack of identity control. Currently, a 16-year-old tech enthusiast can easily enter a universe and create a whole new identity thanks to his “digital twin”. In the end, the dangers are broadly the same as on the internet or social networks, but are amplified because there is currently no legislation around the use of the metaverse. This is a subject that is debated in the tech world but no one really has an answer.
The metaverse is a universe outside of our universe, it allows freedoms and possibilities that the physical world does not allow, we are clearly in fantasy. Imagine entering the Avatar universe in 3D. It is also an escape from real life, and like everything else, it must be controlled by external legislation so as not to fall into excess.

4- Now let’s talk about events. How can the industry benefit from metaverses? Do “event metaverses” already exist?

In itself, the metaverse is a digitalized place, thus, it’s a place like any other where you can organize an event. I would say that a large part of today’s entirely digital events (meetings, conferences, webinars, etc.) could be held in the metaverse. The experience is tenfold. We have also witnessed the emergence of new formats in the metaverse such as fashion shows, cultural exhibitions or concerts, the possibilities are endless. The health crisis has clearly pushed the concept, by so, some companies are taking advantage of it for their marketing strategy as it is an additional communication channel.
However, the general public is not yet ready to fully embrace this technology in their daily lives, it takes time. And let’s be clear, some events can never be held in the metaverse, like the agricultural show for example. Some industries must remain in the face-to-face world, because their product/service is concrete and tangible. I think that humans, despite all the futuristic technologies, will always need to touch, communicate in real life, and feel fully “alive”.
Currently, there are no metaverse events as such because that would imply a company specializing in this kind of events, would already have created its own metaverse, and therefore its own universe. This is not the case. The events taking place in the metaverse today are only for companies that occupy already existing universes. As Nicolas Rieul, President of IAB France, reminds us, “when there is a significant usage and audiences, brands are interested in it”.

5- To succeed in an event in the metaverse, are the rules the same as in reality?

Absolutely! The rules are the same: you need to make yourself known and have participants. Without participants or notoriety, your event in the metaverse will go unnoticed. The only real advice I can give you is to simplify the access of your universe’s participants in which your event takes place.
Because today, the no show is due to the lack of information and explanations around the metaverse. Few people have really understood what it is. Many also don’t understand the point and view of the metaverse as a trend rather than a genuinely useful and relevant event tool. Ignorance leads fear, so reassure and support your participants because it is a unique experience that is definitely worth the cost.

6- For you, is the metaverse a sustainable concept or is it a fad, where big companies find their interests in it?

Both. I think that the metaverse as we know it today (centralized, difficult to access, without legislation, little information.) is a certain fashion effect that will soon die. But the metaverse that we will know in 10 years or so, will be more likely to last and change the way we consume digital if technology makes real progress. I think this is also the number of years that the public needs to understand and really consider the metaverse.

7- We know that the metaverse consumes a lot of energy. How to be consistent between your CSR approach and the use of metaverses?

The metaverse is as heavy as any internet application. Once again, I think that the developments over the next few years will make it possible to limit the ecological impact thanks to more sustainable technologies. In terms of ethics too, certain behaviors are now unacceptable in the metaverse, but also on certain social networks as well. Abuses are everywhere.

(*): Guillaume expert and developer at Digitevent. Interview conducted by Elohan Cavé.

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