How to launch an event in the metaverse — Andrew’s story
I know you organize events in the metaverse. When did you first come up with the idea for it?
Now it's hard to pinpoint the exact moment, but I was definitely impressed by Travis Scott's concert in Fortnite. When I read the news about it, I immediately thought, 'Wow, that was powerful. Something is happening in the world.' And since then, I've been working on this topic for about a year and a half.
However, I would like to make a small remark. One should not perceive metaverses only as a platform for events – they can become a platform for creating a whole variety of products. For instance, I've recently developed a tool for methodologists and schools that allows conducting workshops and intensives within Roblox.
Have you managed to commercialize this?
Yes, this is quite a business story. Not so long ago, we organized a cool corporate online event in collaboration with the School of Innovation and Creative Thinking IKRA and another team, which I can't name due to an NDA. The entire first day of the conference was moved to the digital space and took place inside Roblox: employees and guests, each from their own device, entered the game, wandered through futuristic locations, and collected artifacts that were supposed to be useful for the following days of this workshop.
The theme of the conference was innovation, the use of new approaches and technologies, so from its very first minutes, the organizers had the task of inspiring the guests, rebooting them, tuning them to the right mood, and freeing them from 'suits'. You can no longer be too serious if you're running around as a french fries avatar.
What makes an event in the metaverse better than an online event in Zoom?
The metaverse offers an unparalleled experience in terms of depth and immersiveness; it's a kind of relationship that can be set with any rules and context.
For comparison, take Zoom: no matter how energetically you gesture at the camera and how great a speaker you are, it's still just a camera with 16x9 frames, and you're just a talking head. Sometimes, to add a bit of liveliness to my voice and narrative, I intentionally conduct workshops standing up. In the metaverse, however, I have the opportunity not just to broadcast through a microphone – the interaction becomes advanced: starting with such simple actions as running up, moving away, interacting with an avatar, and ending with the development of more complex game mechanics.
In my view, the classic Zoom + Miro combination with a webcam and an infinite board offers a rather flat experience for solving corporate tasks. Engagement in the problem increases if you package the situation in a game format, where you have the risk of losing, a certain team goal, and a million different tools to achieve it.
How do you structure the work on the concept of an event?
Essentially, it's comparable to developing a regular event, but there are also some differences. I'll explain it best based on the framework I developed specifically for such tasks.
Let's take the classic CJM, where there are always at least two participants: the user performing actions, and the system responding to each step of this user.
In the case of an event in the metaverse, there will be three variables: the user's offline experience, online experience, and what I call the inline experience. So we consider the user from three perspectives simultaneously: from the position of their physical existence, their existence in some interface (website, application, etc.), and their experience in the context of the metaverse.
''We consider the user from three perspectives simultaneously: from the position of their physical existence, their existence in some interface (website, application), and their experience in the context of the metaverse''
Why do you specifically choose Roblox for implementing your ideas? Is programming essential?
For me personally, Roblox surpasses other platforms for several reasons: first, it's a relatively simple development environment with an easy and native programming language. By the way, yes, programming skills are required.
Secondly, there's a diverse set of assets, many of which are generated by the users themselves. There are 100,000 of them daily, which I find to be a phenomenally large number. And that's just the creators, not counting the active users who come to play games — there are 8 million of those per day.
Thirdly, Roblox can be accessed on virtually any device, whether it's VR headsets, Sony PlayStation, Xbox, PC, or phones with Android and iOS operating systems. When we talk about popularizing work and communication in the metaverse, such multi-platform capability, adaptability — in other words, a low barrier to entry — definitely plays into our hands.
What other non-obvious opportunities of the metaverse can you share with us?
For me, several directions are obvious where the metaverse will turn the game around in the next 3-5 years. The first and most apparent is HR: training and adaptation of employees can be transferred to the metaverse; compliance department, by modeling and working through some conflict situations in digital space; creating a virtual office for remote employees. I am currently experimenting in this direction myself and work in VR glasses — trying to expand the capabilities of my apartment (laughs). Roblox itself has made a career center right on its engine, proving that this hypothesis is definitely working.
The second application is, naturally, marketing and PR. Dozens of brands in the market have already launched their spaces in Roblox: Crocs, Ralph Lauren, Walmart. They write games for the platform that work as promos: they hold giveaways, distribute promo codes, give product presentations. This always becomes a hot news topic for the media.
Billions have already been invested in the metaverse, but it seems that in the last couple of years the development has not changed technologically or conceptually. What future do you see for the metaverse? Is a second wave of popularity awaiting them?
I think it's not quite correct to talk about a second wave of popularity for the metaverse. Different technologies develop at different paces. Take neural networks for comparison. You know, there's the model of diffusion of innovations, where all people are divided into innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards, based on their degree of technology adoption. In the case of neural networks, the early majority was captured unusually quickly.
Why did they gain such widespread use and why so soon? I think it's because people tend to think in terms of services, not technology, and neural networks have a quite obvious utilitarian purpose. Need original text? Here's Chat GPT. Want an image not protected by copyright? Here's MidJourney.
The metaverse is not developing as rapidly. Zuckerberg promised us a lot of things, and, not seeing instant results, people thought these predictions did not come true. But they are coming true, just slowly.
Remember the last time you were at a big stadium concert? I caught myself thinking that in the past, people used to attend such events much more often. Offline is gradually becoming a privilege, while online is becoming a cheap format of entertainment, and over time, this entertainment is becoming more impressive and diverse.