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Meeting in person is the preference for most people in this semi post-pandemic world, as people are jaded and bored communicating on zoom, skype, or google hangouts. Conference organisers and event planners need to get more creative in engaging their audiences, so if meeting in-person is not an option, the metaverse is the next new exciting way to communicate.

Even though the metaverse it is still in its infancy, conferences, event organisers and Keynote Speakers should soon incorporate some part of the metaverse into their event planning in the future to remain current and cutting edge.

Back in October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg, renamed Facebook ‘Meta’ and championed it as the perfect place where anyone can socialise, play, relax, and enjoy an unencumbered life. However, the metaverse is still in its infancy and some conferences might be still apprehensive about entering into this virtual world just at the moment, however there are are several opportunities for conferences to dip their toe in the water, so to speak, but first of all….

What is the metaverse?

According to David Mattin, author of the New World, Same Humans Newsletter ‘The Metaverse is about the emergence of virtual and simulated worlds as domains of human experience’. It is a form of digital reality designed using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies.

The point of any metaverse (because now, there is more than ‘Meta’) is to provide an engaging user experience in a fictional but sufficiently realistic environment.  Depending on the metaverse you use, the functionality may vary widely, from 3D modelling for designers to cryptocurrency exchanges for miners or gamers.

Why as a conference /event organiser or owner should I use the metaverse?

  • The metaverse also offers nearly unlimited space for creativity and self-expression.
  • There is no hard limit on the number of people who can take part in the online event, It can host events of any size, from small team building activities to large corporate anniversaries (unlike zoom, for example, where the number of participants and screens can be limited).
  • It is not just for entertainment and it is possible to do business related activities, for example, you could host a virtual team-building event inside an actual metaverse.

This is the major reason why a growing number of companies are choosing metaverses as a virtual space for their internal events.

Advantages

  • It aims to remove the ‘remoteness’ of home-based work which can help boost employee engagement and company culture in a way that Zoom or Skype meetings never could.
  • The metaverse offers unlimited ways to engage attendees and break the ice of virtual events, thanks to gamification elements, (the process of using game-style mechanics and elements to incentivise employee engagement).
  • It has a unique mix of technology and socialising and it helps to bridge the gap between real and virtual events.
  • Attendees can enjoy a high-quality and similarly engaging experience.

Disadvantages

  • In some cases it is costly, for example, Meta is actively promoting its Oculus Quest 2 as the most recommended gear for virtual activities. The cost of one set is approximately €350, so buying multiple sets for a big team could get expensive.
  • Basic gaming skills are needed to enter some metaverse so non-gamers may feel lost.
  • At the moment it is more difficult to have sales conversations, With virtual events, it’s hard to gain real one-on-one time with prospects. Networking is simply not as viable as it is with in-person events, and sales meetings have to happen after-the-fact.
  • It is harder to build real authentic lasting relationships with attendees.
  • In some cases, the breakout events are less collaborative, but that may change.

The metaverse market is continuously expanding and competition in this sector is growing rapidly. To give you an idea we have provided some examples of the most popular metaverses at the moment.

HORIZON WORLDS (Dec 2021)

Facebook’s metaverse is widely known as Horizon Worlds or simply Horizon. Its key focus is on organising virtual business meetings. Every team member is represented by an individually designed 3D avatar that enters the room with a computer and a keyboard to sit in on a meeting, only now it’s virtual. It’s possible to customise your virtual meeting room to your needs. There are layouts for different occasions, and the meeting room can be scaled up or down depending on the size of your team. Before you sign up for Meta’s metaverse, you need to understand that Horizon Worlds is alpha software that requires the newest hardware. Otherwise, you might not even be able to enter it.

Advantages

  • Overall experience is good; if you’re considering inviting future business partners to an online event, Horizon World would be a good fit.
  • Designing avatars is fun  – so fun that many people spend too much time on this activity alone.

Disadvantages

  • Cost: Meta is actively promoting its Oculus Quest 2 as the most recommended gear for virtual activities. The cost of one set is around $350. Buying multiple sets for a bit team could be costly.
  • Before you sign up for Meta’s metaverse, you need to understand that Horizon Worlds is alpha software that requires the newest hardware.
  • Basic gaming skills are needed to enter this metaverse. Non-gamers may feel lost.

PARTY.SPACE (2020)

Party.Space’s metaverse is browser-based and highly customisable. One of the key features is its simultaneous availability of multiple chatrooms; for example, there could be a larger room for the streaming event plus several more private rooms. It’s popular primarily among larger enterprises, IT and gaming in particular, and some other fandom communities.

The platform can be used for various events from team building activities and happy hours to celebrating a company’s anniversary or fundraising events.

Unlike any other metaverse, party.Space doesn’t require additional devices to use the platform to the fullest, so you can easily refresh and reset your employees. Users just need a device connected to the internet. Party.Space’s team is actively working on developing new spaces and providing quality services to customers.

 Advantages

  • Customisable: easy and not time-consuming.
  • Live-streaming can be organised quickly, and it’s easy to share screens or show presentations during the event.
  • The option to have multiple hosts for the same event.
  • Spatial audio allows easy networking with your colleagues. You can use the front-facing camera to show your face or customize your personal avatar.

 Disadvantages

  • A relatively new computer and updated browsers, as well as a sufficiently powerful internet connection, is required.

MICROSOFT MESH (November 2021)

With Minecraft and Activision Blizzard in its portfolio, Microsoft is clearly very ambitious about its near-future metaverse plans. For now, there is Mesh — Microsoft’s very own metaverse designed for holographic collaboration inside your team. It can be accessed from any device via mixed reality apps.

Mesh allows for in-depth immersion into the virtual world. Holoportation can mimic the real presence. It allows for projecting yourself as a photo-realistic self to interact as if you are present there in person. Thanks to modern technologies, users can engage with eye contact, gestures, and facial expressions.

Advantages

  • You can use your mobile device if you don’t have a VR headset.
  • It has an intuitive interface with a near-zero learning curve.

Disadvantages

  • Mesh is built strictly around Microsoft Teams, so if you don’t already have this platform, it might not be a good idea to get it just for the sake of the metaverse.
  • To get the best of the Mesh Metaverse, you need to use extra hardware like HoloLens2, VR headsets, etc.

DENTRALAND (Feb 2020)

As one of the very first players in this market, Decentraland was launched back in 2017. The core functionality of this metaverse is to buy land plots using non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrency, and then you build something, your office, for example, on them.

Decentraland is a virtual world built on Ethereum. It means that there is no central entity that owns the platform. Decentraland is run by its users. Its content is hosted on various computers all over the world, which makes it a decentralized platform.

There are two types of tokens available in Decentralend.

LAND is an NFT that defines the ownership of land parcels representing the digital real estate.

MANA is a cryptocurrency that can be used to buy LAND along with other virtual services and goods.

But in terms of a virtual event platform, Decentraland is still under development. As the Decentraland metaverse grows further, it will cover far more use cases.

To learn more about cryptocurrencies and NFT’s our Speaker Matt Mason is an expert in those areas.

Today, the popularity of Decentraland has grown: JP Morgan has its own official Onyx lounge hosted in the Metajuku mall (a virtual version of Tokyo’s shopping district), while the government of Barbados has the world’s first virtual diplomatic embassy in Decentraland.

Advantages

  • Very engaging. You can spend hours exploring this metaverse.

Disadvantages

  • Peer-to-peer communication options are still somewhat limited.
  • There are limits to accessible activities if you don’t have a crypto wallet.

GATHER (May 2020)

Gather is often described as a fun version of Zoom. In a nutshell, it is a video chat with various simple games under the hood. The platform allows you to do more than just talk. There are whiteboards, TVs, and games that can spice up your team event.

Gather can fit many events, from office work to hosting a rooftop party. You can customise your space to your needs. The platform can also be used for various workshops. Virtual learning doesn’t have to be boring when there is Gather.

Advantages

  • Easy access mode – people who used to play computer games back in the ’90s will experience pleasant nostalgia.
  • Great for short-term team-building activities.

Disadvantages

  • In-game communication is somewhat limited.
  • More tech-savvy teammates may get bored quickly.

ROBLOX (2006)

Roblox got its popularity as a gaming platform for children and teenagers. The first metaverse event on Roblox was organized in spring 2021. Today it is increasingly used for team hangouts.

Roblox has no rivals when it comes to playing and building games in a virtual sandbox. You can create your custom avatar and design your own home and neighborhood for others to visit. One major benefit of Roblox is the ability to chat with people face-to-face.

If you’re going to host a game night, Roblox is right up your alley. There are hundreds of games, from survival games to adventure games. You can even create a corporate game for your employees to have fun together. There are thousands of scripts that allow anyone, even if they have no programming skills, to create their own unique games.

Advantages

  • Huge variety of content and millions of games.

Disadvantages

  • Event-hosting, screen-sharing, and live-streaming capabilities are somewhat limited.

The metaverse market is continuously expanding and competition in this sector is growing rapidly. So, if you are planning on doing an event in the metaverse, start by answering these three questions:

  1. Who is your audience? More specifically – how many people are coming? Are they all equally tech-savvy? Are they into gaming or more into chats?
  2. What is the format of your future event? Do you plan to “just hang out together” in a virtual lounge? Do you expect any brainstorming outcomes? Does the event include speeches and presentations? Is it strictly in-house, or are you expecting external guests?
  3. Will you be able to do a demo before the actual event? Imagine seeing your virtual event from the inside; it could be something totally different from what is expected. Doing a demo or a pilot test is strongly recommended.

Hosting a virtual event requires the same care and attention (if not more) than an in-person event, however it is worth considering incorporating some aspect of the metaverse for your next event. If interested in hearing more about any of our Keynote Speakers who talk about the metaverse contact us directly.  

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