What is the "metaverse"? And how will it impact events?

published on October 19, 2021
Trends and Technology

New technology has continually shaped and reshaped the way with communicate and the way we gather. The mobile telephone, for instance, has had a massive impact on how we engage with each other, how we meet new people, and how we experience events (think: digital ticketing, “bump” contact sharing, instant audience feedback through mobile polling, and more).

The next technological revolution is coming. It’s a future version of the Internet called the “metaverse” and here’s what you need to know about it.


Let’s define “metaverse”

According to Wikipedia, the word "metaverse" is constructed from the prefix "meta" (meaning beyond) and the stem "verse" (a back-formation from "universe"). The term is typically used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the Internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe.

The metaverse in a broader sense may not only refer to virtual worlds, but Internet as a whole, including the entire spectrum of augmented reality.


The metaverse is already happening

The metaverse consists of alternate digital realities where people work, play, and socialize. Perhaps the most tangible examples are video games such as Fortnite or Minecraft, where players can interact with each other, build worlds together, fight “bad guys” together, and select their own avatars.

Speaking of avatars, most metaverse experts seem to agree that avatars will be a core part of the metaverse experience. The intriguing part of this is the idea of self-invention, or self-reinvention. In these spaces, we get to be digital versions of the people we want to be. You want to be taller? You want to be younger? You want to be a gender fluid skateboarding panda? In theory, the metaverse permits it all.  

Event and communications professionals might want to pay attention to the metaverse because it will potentially be the next frontier for human interaction. Just like social media revolutionized the domain of marketing, so too will the metaverse. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg recently turned heads by pronouncing that Facebook would transition from being a social media company to “a Metaverse company” within the next five years.

What does it mean for events?

The pandemic shifted many cultural gatherings online. Family reunions, weddings, graduations, and other gatherings shifted to Zoom and other virtual platforms. With online social events becoming increasingly mainstream, we’re going to see the metaverse becoming an attractive way to bridge geographical divides.

Conferences are one cultural event that might experience the biggest transformations. Virtual attendees won’t just be able to talk to brands or keynote speakers, like on social media, they’ll be able to interact with them in 3D or holographic form. Imagine being able to virtually walk up to Brené Brown and ask her for tips on leadership. That might be an option sooner than later.

The metaverse is starting to manifest itself in entertainment. John Legend’s recent Bigger Love virtual concert used Wave XR technology to broadcast an avatar version of John Legend. Fans had the chance to socialize and interact with Legend, and all were welcome to join the virtual dance floor. The event raised funds for charity and was seen by 500,000 live attendees.

This era of the metaverse will enable unfathomable creativity and open new frontiers and horizons for events. As we grow to understand the concept of “metaverse,” the subsequent question will be crucial: how are you getting ready?



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