Designing the Metaverse
A part of me is dubious of the metaverse’s oft touted potential for connecting people in an immersive world. After all, how is a dual VR/AR experience more “real” than… real life itself? Then again, the ability of transporting to a virtual workroom with colleagues scattered around the world or a concert with the latest NFT merch does sound pretty awesome.
I’m especially interested in the entertainment possibilities of the metaverse — think concerts, sports events, etc.. I read a few good design articles relevant to these entertainment experiences in the metaverse that I’d like to share. Credit goes to Marcus Lyra’s ‘Core concerns of UX in the Metaverse’, Daniel Lipscombe’s ‘Nike Meets Roblox in NIKELAND: A Metaverse Leap For The Sports Brand’ and Tobias Holm Jensen’s ‘Designing for the Metaverse’.
Metamorphism: this is skeumorphism (interface objects that mimic their real-world counterparts in how they appear and/or how the user can interact with them (affordances), ie. toggle buttons) with immersion. The point here is that being in a concert or sports match in the metaverse should be immersive for the user; however, for the time being, objects and settings should be related to physical things that we are familiar with, while users acclimate to these metaverse experiences.
Consistency: a big topic surrounding the metaverse is that of ‘interoperability’. What does this mean? There may (will) be different companies/teams building various metaverse platforms. Ideally, all of these interfaces will work and/or connect with each other, so someone using Microsoft’s metaverse can easily transition to Meta’s, and vice versa. Information transfer should be lucid and experiences should be consistent.
Localization:designers need to keep in mind that the interface will not be in front of the user as is typical with video games & TV as we know them; rather, the users will be inside the solution. Imagine not just being in a soccer stadium seat but being able to fly above the pitch and observe the game. We will have to design primarily for ambience and sequence.
Mechanization: materials must perform similar roles to those of real objectivity. This includes “stability, gravity, inertia, contact, collision, occlusion, reflection and refraction.” How will the user see a ricocheted hockey puck or how will a stage performer jump up and down on the stage? Will they be able to alter their gravitational force and levitate in the air?
Dislocation: this relates to smooth transitions. It is vital to have a sense of continuity throughout actions — this rings true especially for action-packed entertainment audience experiences.
Advertisements: how will ads be shown in entertainment venues? Will billboards be present, as is done with NIKELEAND & Roblox? Will ads scroll on the screen and/or will they be present in metaverse chats? The goal is to make them apparent, yet discreet so as not to disturb the overall metaverse experience for the user.
Designing the metaverse for entertainment experiences is obviously complex — and we have not even touched design principles for the metaverse’s other purposes, like education/work, gaming and day-to-day communication. In order to create an immersive, elegant metaverse entertainment experience, unison and collaboration between different parties, developers and companies is required, and programming, UI/UX design, architecture and more will be heavily used.
The next decade of metaverse development is one I will be following intently.