Flashback to the beginning of 2021 and most people hadn’t heard of the term “metaverse.” Today, the “metaverse” has found a home in everyday conversation—so much so that it has been called the “buzziest of buzz words.” Although the term has only recently entered the popular lexicon, it was coined about three decades ago by Neal Stephenson in his science fiction novel, Snow Crash, which portrays a next-generation internet powered by virtual reality. The term’s resurgence and popularity reflect important new technology advancements that many believe will see the metaverse transition from science fiction to our everyday reality. In many ways, this is already starting to happen. For example, some say the metaverse already exists on gaming platforms like Roblox.
Although the metaverse promises to touch nearly every person in our society, there’s one demographic that will almost certainly see disproportionately strong disruption: creators. The metaverse has the potential to fundamentally disrupt the content creation process. As Mark Zuckerberg of the newly-christened Meta has said, “At the end of the day, it is really the creators and developers who are going to build the metaverse and make this real.”
More interactive and immersive content.
The metaverse is slated to help creators make more interactive and immersive content, thanks in large part to advances in VR and AR. The stakes will be raised as creators will be expected to build more immersive and interactive content than ever before.
As a mere glimpse into the future, consider British auction house Sotheby’s foray into the metaverse. In 2021, the company held its first digital art auction located in Decentraland, a decentralized virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain. Sotheby’s created a digital replica of its London headquarters and allowed visitors to view and interact with digital art from 27 NFT artists.
You can imagine a not-too-distant future where creators are tasked with not only producing traditional two-dimensional content that is rather passively consumed, but also creating the means through which users interact with content. The famous phrase by theorist Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message,” will truly define this next era of creating. Today’s Youtubers, TikTokers, and podcasters will create digital replicas of themselves, their homes, their studios, and other objects to propel audience experiences into interactive and immersive ones. Imagine being immersed in a cooking segment where you’re able to feel the texture of the food, move it around, and be guided through cooking skills by a professional cook.
We’re on the brink of seeing swaths of new tools available for creators to harness the potential of the metaverse. Meta, for example, recently launched Polar, an iOS app that will help creators design and distribute AR effects and filters without writing code. Ultimately, just how much more interactive and immersive content will be in the metaverse will depend on the tools that creators have at their disposal.
The metaverse will not only enable creators to develop more interactive and immersive content, but it will also enable them to develop more intelligent content, thanks to new developments in AI. If the metaverse realizes its potential, creators will work alongside AI-assisted tools that enable them to translate a high-level vision into content that is ready for consumption. This may involve AI-powered video editing, AI-assisted animation, or even AI-powered music composition.
This is already happening at some level. Late last year, Meta announced its Presence Platform, which is powered by a series of AI capabilities that allow users to build mixed reality experiences that blend virtual content with the physical world. In another example, Promethean AI assists creators in building virtual worlds. As reported by VentureBeat, a user could ask the platform to build them a 1970s bedroom and the platform will, in turn, construct a room adorned with posters of the Bee Gees. Users could then instruct the platform to move a piece of furniture or other object in a particular direction. Truly harnessing the potential of AI, users could even instruct the platform to “suggest variations” and be presented with customizable AI-informed variants.
Enhanced interactions with audience members.
In the metaverse, creators will also have opportunities to interact with fans and other audience members in new and deeper ways. Creators will create virtual avatars that can interact with fans in public spaces, such that their movements in the physical world are mirrored in the virtual world in ways that enable deeper socialization with audience members. Recently, we saw this type of environment materialize with Fortnite’s live in-game concert, Marshmello, which was watched by more than 10 million people.
Yet by no means is the potential for enhanced interactions with audience members constrained to the use of avatars. One of the most exciting applications of the metaverse will involve creators giving fans a deeper purview into the creation process and forging stronger and more expansive relationships. Consider Award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Joanna Penn. Penn has contemplated what the Metaverse looks like for her as a creator, explaining:
“I want to create a companion walking tour of my books through London (for my Brooke and Daniel crime thrillers) and through Bath (for my Mapwalker fantasy trilogy). Walk the physical streets with AR glasses and I’ll be there with you explaining the history of the area and how it inspired my novels — with opportunities to buy, of course! There are lots of audio-only walking tours available now, but AR will enable the digitalization of such experiences and further integration with retail.”
In our increasingly global and distributed world, the metaverse will also enable creators to connect and interact with more diverse audiences. Natural language processing and AI-powered translations tools will enable creators to translate their content—including cultural nuances— with immaculate precision. For writers, platforms like Nara will leverage AI to create natural-sounding audio stories from text, enabling content creators to immediately publish an audio version of a text piece to a wide array of devices.
Leveling up in the metaverse
The metaverse has vast potential to transform how creators develop content and interact with their audiences. The creators that will thrive moving forward will be the ones that understand how to level up their skills in their metaverse. Through creating more interactive and immersive content, leveraging new AI capabilities, and forging stronger audience relationships, the future is bright for the next era of creating.
A man tries the “Metaverse” via VR technology at XINHUA NEWS AGENCY VIA GETTY IMAGES