Before we begin talking about the ethics of the Metaverse, let’s be clear: the Metaverse is not here just yet. However, the proto-Metaverse experiences that we create in the meantime will become essential building blocks for the Metaverse of the future, and we as content creators with the power to shape this nascent space have a responsibility to create an inclusive framework that is ultimately beneficial for humanity.
Ethics is concerned with the moral “goods” of society and is ultimately organized around a concern beyond the self. If we couple this thought with a fundamental principle of good experience design – that our audience’s precious attention should be respectfully earned – then we must place value to community above value to business when creating Metaverse experiences.
Today’s younger generations, who will be the main beneficiaries of the Metaverse, expect their favourite brands to be a reflection of themselves and their personal values. The Metaverse therefore provides a unique and exciting opportunity for brands to start afresh; to proudly state their values via thoughtful experiences that service an evolving community.
If the hyperconnectivity that we experienced during the height of the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that human beings actually quite like reality. As we begin to build the foundations of the Metaverse, we should not be endeavouring to replace reality, but to add to it. We should be asking ourselves how these new experiences add to everyday life; what real-life challenges do they solve, and what real-life needs do they fulfill. Otherwise, we will simply be creating more unwanted noise for audiences to sieve through.
The way we use technology has the potential to profoundly impact the way we feel and behave; too many of us are familiar with the hours lost to “doomscrolling” on our phones and other addictive interaction mechanisms used to exploit our attention and insecurities. While technologists may never set out to design a system that is harmful to the user, we must be better at interrogating the objectives behind our user experience design. Only when we prioritize human wellbeing and mindfulness in our designs will we be able to create a truly enjoyable Metaverse experience with long-term viability.
If the Metaverse is to truly be the next revolutionary phase of the internet, we need to consider how to democratize access so that as many people can participate in it as possible. Not only does this mean making Metaverse experiences available across a wide spectrum of future devices, but also ensuring that diverse voices are integral in shaping the Metaverse as a whole. By creating an inspiring and inviting platform that celebrates a variety of perspectives, we have the potential to foster a deeper sense of belonging, ownership and pride amongst this growing creative and user community, making the Metaverse a platform that everyone will want to build up and participate in for years to come.
If you’d like to find out more about working with us on VFX, Creative Production or Experience you can get in touch here. You can also learn more about our most recent Metaverse project Pentakill ‘Lost Chapter’ here.