29 Jun 2022

Metaquette #Metaverses Q9


Tips & Tricks for Negotiating The Metaverse

Weekly Q & A with the Doyenne of The Metaverse......Pooky Amsterdam

The Metaverse has arrived! And is arriving, and is on the way, and is being built, yet has some places which have existed for over 2 decades....but this is an entirely new phenomenon worthy of increases in share prices. The New Metaverse Days are here and you will be expected at any of 67 locations plus new ones which will add up to 138 live and in development all waiting for you! The charts in the photo are from the wonderful company headed up by the awesome Nic Mitham & Kelly Loter who run Metaversed Consulting  They have been in this space for a very long time. So has Dubit, the sponsor of these photos, as you can see on the lower right hand side. Dubit has been around since 1999.

Q: There are so many Metaverses coming out, do you think they will all survive?

Right now there is so much activity in bringing metaverses to the market, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is the first time Massive Multi-Player Online Worlds have been explored. Indeed it is not, but perhaps the recent pandemic and the way we were all driven home by the Covid Effect has realized a greater ability to work collaboratively and from home.  Zoom took the brunt of our time and faces, the Metaverse offers other ways to meet and enjoy shared virtual destinations using them both for business and pleasure.

There is such intense competition for users in this area right now though that Metaverses will have to offer increasing incentives for people to become real residents, or offer niche interests that no other Metaverse can. It is hoped that these Metaverses monetize their user base with monthly dues, currency exchange and the creation of virtual goods. It will not be easy to differentiate however as most of theses metaverse offer exactly the same things.

The question then becomes, how much bandwidth do people actually have for an investment of time and energy towards building a new digital home, new virtual relationships and spending time in new places? And learning a new user interface each time as well? Even if it is from the best location we have: The internet connection right in front of us. 

Let's look at Facebook way back when they started. It has grown to include just about everyone in the world, but stock price growth is dependant on numbers growth and everyone who can be on Facebook is already on Facebook. After you max out your user base, where do you go? To Meta Horizons of course, but they enter this market not just against four places to knock out like MySpace, Google+, Orkut and Friendster, but many many more. 

Mckinsey recently released a report on the Metaverse. As of 2022 investments into infrastructure supporting the Metaverse exceeded $120B in the first few months of 2022 alone. 95% of the polled executives believe that their industry will benefit from the Metaverse, while only 15% believe that the Metaverse will represent significant portions of their margin growth in the next five years. There are tremendous dollar investments which must be recouped. how will that be done?

Mckinsey categorizes the Metaverse into five different activities: Gaming, fitness, commerce, socializing and remote learning. And according to their data, 60% of surveyed consumers preferred to perform one of these activities virtually, e-commerce being the most lucrative. (I have always wanted to go the bank dressed as a furry, or elven princess). I guess I am not alone here, because Mckinsey predicts that the value of e-commerce in the Metaverse will settle between $2T and $2.6T by 2030.  The only question is which Metaverses will take the lead? The ones with the most security i would think both in terms of data breaching and mining.

All in a Metaverse day, my friends, will this be the future? You wake up and go to Roblox, then Decentraland, then Fortnite. You will have lunch at your desk, but that isn't different from usual, maybe you will have lunch while you visit The Sandbox? Then onto Somnium Space, VRChat and Odyssey. After a quick dinner because you dont have much time, you can have fun in Epic Games New Metaverse in the making or Axie infinity or Cyrptovoxels or Spatials. Maybe you have an awesome computer rig and you can be several avatars in multiple metaverses at once! You can be in two or three or four places at once then. Something you really can not do on the Earthly plane!

That would take a lot of mental, as well as internet bandwidth, perhaps more than most people have. There will be some shakeout therefore of where users go, and that will depend on what value, both quantitative and qualitative people find for their time. Time being the new currency, and where you spend it. For younger age groups right now Roblox has 230M active users, Minecraft 165M (educators do use these places as virtual platforms for teaching and Unilever has an education effort going with Minecraft). Fortnite has 85M, Avakin Life 12.5. For older users there are Zepeto with 20M, IMVU at 7M, RecRoom with 5.5M and Second Life at 1M holding steady. Underneath those are at least 11 other virtual worlds with under a million or so active users. The first Metaverse to hit one billion members will be crowned King of The Virtual Playground, but it is too early to tell who will survive in these early days. 

As more and more people become familiar with the term Metaverse, and want to take part in these exciting new places, what will determine stickiness becomes increasingly important. Will there be Pay 2 Stay? Does a Metaverse gift the new user with a virtual pet of their choice that needs tending to like a neopet of old that had to be fed and walked with alarming regularity? Is it the wardrobe of unbelievable fabulous clothing that you either make or wear, or make and wear that calls you back? Will it be a concert or lecture series you can sign up for that takes place at intervals you must be signed in to receive?  Is it an opportunity to talk to an industry leader that you couldn't come within an arm's length of in real life, who is willing to take your private message within a virtual world? Or will it be one of a kind NFTs, with unlockable content that allows you to know something no one else does? Most often it is where you find friends and people you want to talk to again, minting those is always the greatest gift one can give oneself as the saying goes and also the most elusive thing to find.

If you have a question please email it to info@pookymedia.com with the subject line of Metaquette, and it will be answered.

22 Jun 2022

Mettaquette #VirtualTherapy #BetterWorld Q8

Weekly Q & A with the Doyenne of The metaverse.....Pooky Amsterdam 

With the explosion of the Metaverse, which does represent life on a 3D platform other than Earth,we bring our human selves to these shiny new shores.  Do we want these virtual worlds in front of us to be better than the one we have behind us? Is this even possible? Won't we be bringing all of our same traumas, fears, insecurities, greed, competitive and destructive patterns with us? Or are there ways the Metaverse can help us surpass our human limitations? 

Q7: Can the Metaverse make the world a better place?

There are imho two general ways to make the world a better place. For many people to rise up at once and realize they need to do more for their fellow humans, their children, the environment, even their country. That takes a big movement and most people are just trying to live their lives as best they can. In the checklist for avatar character traits, will you check sincere or snarky? It would be wonderful if we had a kinder and gentler Metaverse, but with so much emphasis at the moment on commercial enterprise, being a kinder and gentler avatar doesn't seem to be at the same premium level. I'm waiting for the Just Be A Good Person Metaverse, but I'm not holding my breath for that.

The other way to make the world a better place is for individuals to improve their perspective, heal their wounds so that they dont want to hurt themselves or others and find a better place within themselves. If he Metaverse can help heal or improve people's lives, and clearly it can,  the answer is yes. I have witnessed and participated in this on a first person, or first avatar basis, and yes the Metaverse has real strengths here, which I hope will be ported to the new ones. I am answering today's question from personal experience.

For example, thousands of people have passed through a sim in Second Life called Fearless Nation,  which is an avatar outpost for those surviving PTSD and other forms of abuse.  Watch the video in the link, all of the dialogue is taken from people's actual feedback on their virtual experiences there. Dr. Colleen Crary  has run it for 13 years helping thousands of people cope by providing mental health support on a beautiful pacific island with places for bonfires, gatherings and education. It is a safe space on abuse victims terms, they control it and so can rebuild their trust. 

Dr. Crary's presented her findings for her PHD thesis and found that people who had avatars and spent time in Fearless Nation gained feelings of safety and self-connectedness. Through the Proteus effect, this self awareness allowed for greater control over stressors and triggers, being an avatar in the safety of one's home environment allowed for creative experimentation. Also self-reflective processing and positive behaviors learned in the virtual worlds led to that actualization for real life behaviors. People gained interpersonal connectedness, relational engagement, and learned to socialize again!

The Metaverse offers community which does make us feel better plus community around shared loss or tragedy even, comforting us in a psychological way. Another example of this is the enormous community of cancer survivors and their families that populate the American Cancer Society's Annual Relay For Life, the ACS does improve lives. There is a virtual world outpost for this, a Relay for Life in Second Life which began in 2005 and since has raised over $3 million through micro-donations from all over the world. Because the Metaverse is a global platform, people log in from anywhere, anytime of the day or night and find those who understand what they are going through. I remember a conversation with someone who had cancer and couldn't bring herself to discuss her fears with her own family, not wanting to burden them. In Second Life she not only found people to talk to about her deepest problems, but also who helped her overcome her very real fear of needles! The Metaverse can help heal in remarkable ways, not the least because of the presence we feel in our avatars.

With the growth of VR, there is also its growth in treating PTSD and other damaging disorders and it has been one of the first areas VR has been used for. Here is a good article on VR therapy, which is immersive on another level than logging into a Metaverse or virtual world, but the tenants of being present and the identification remain very much within the same principles.

There was a great conversation with Linden Lab's Founder Philip Rosedale and it's new CEO, Oberwolf Linden that I caught yesterday. And yes Philip Rosedale did want to make the world a better place when he began that awesome platform, and still does. What he loves the most about this world he put into motion is that here people do collaborate, get along and build things together, work on things together enabling a greater experience for all. And the great ideas and camaraderie that begin in Second Life, or in the Metaverse can be exported in every one of us who has been there. Understanding ourselves, helping to heal with one another and grow in our abilities will make the world we live in a better place. 

If you have a question, please send an email to info@pookymedia.com with the subject line of Metaquette, it will be answered!

15 Jun 2022

Metaquette #VirtualMoney #Cyrpto Q7


Weekly QA with the Doyenne of the Metaverse.....Pooky Amsterdam

While there may be debate over which blockchain coin is the best, especially as recent news has seen the crypto market crash and seen TERRA fall without its LUNA, for those who want coin in their new realm without paying for it in harder currency, there is caution and opportunity to be had. This is about getting paid for the one non renewable resource you have, your time. Another question on the "creator economy" within the metaverse will follow in weeks to come.

Q: I logged into a new place and one of the avatars was offering FREE COINS, other avatars nearby were talking about what a great deal that was. I would like to try some of the purchasable offerings of this new world, but don't want to give my credit card deets yet, what do you think about FREE COINS?

While this sounds very tempting, would you ever approach anyone with a table at the mall who was shouting free money? Of course not. When you get those emails in your inbox saying, My Dear I would like to give you $3,000,000 do you hit delete? Of course you do. You do it because you know it's a scam, like someone saying, "If you type your password out it looks like ******."  It is easy enough to lose money buying cryptocurrency on a bad day, you don't need to compound this by giving any details which will lead you to being keylogged, or get a virus by clicking the link to get Free Coins. 

However some worlds do offer a way to gain coins through a variety of activities: watching ads, or being advertisers. You could get a "job" roaming throughout your particular metaverse and tout out loud, the name of some location which is a must visit, according to the branding you are encouraged to wear for this.  Or you could do some mind-numbing in-game activity.  In Second Life there still is a way to earn coins or product by sitting at a location, some pay around 4 cents a minute because the owner of said chair wanted their location to look as if it was busy. The owners of these places pay avatars to plonk their virtual butts down, so traffic numbers for these locations increase and look busy. Avatars generally want to go where others are, and this helped avoid the wasteland effect. These kind of activities are for real, just be prepared for your income accumulation to be slow, but you might meet a couple of new friends who will commiserate with you over the tedium.

Being a concierge or helping people onto the new platform will also become a way to earn money as you play the game, spending enough time in one place to sell your services as a live "how to" manual for new people, especially for an event. When there are large scale events in a metaverse and new users, it is critical to make them feel "at home" by being able to navigate in the very least. Decentraland is hiring virtual hosts for its casinos and events.

Another way of making coin will be in staffing, virtual stores may have AI to save money but if the sales force is human based, the ability to engage a customer and make a sale could grow exponentially with an avatar backed by a human being. Once upon a time businesses in the metaverse put up stores and fabulous builds, but not having anyone there to help the potential customers. That is like putting up a store in China and not having anyone on staff who speaks Chinese. Business must know the language of the platform, and who better than a dedicated user to explain, showcase or sell the virtual product. When I was hosting my weekly game show events in Second Life, I always had hosts with specific roles and they made a huge impact on retaining and growing my audience. 

On the other hand maybe you do want to Play To Earn. which Metaverse you choose then could depend on whether you want to earn coins or NFTs. You can even Learn To Earn - for example learning protocols for indexing and querying blockchain data to earn tokens is possible. Here are 9 games in active spaces with investment and more for you.

You can find your bliss in a virtual world, or metaverse, feeling an actual lift in your mood through the activities you do. Being able to make coin while you are being paid for your time, is a true bonus round, as we play to our strengths even more easily than we work towards them. As I write this Dean Takahashi of Venturebeat has just released this article on the virtual world according to Mckinsey & Co.

Your avatar is wanted, needed and valuable!

If you have a question about the Metaverse you would like answered, please send an email to info@Pookymedia.com with Metaquette in the subject line!

8 Jun 2022

Metaquette #VirtualTheatre #VirtualTheater Q6

Weekly QA with the doyenne of the Metaverse.......Pooky Amsterdam

Antonin Artaud was the first person to write "Realite Virtuelle" in his book The Theatre and its Double. While there were no digital multi-user dimensions in 1938 this connection between the stage, the self and suspension of disbelief is a good one.The Metaverse provides a backdrop for one's journey as it is encountered, and in text, voice or commands you write your story every day. Beyond being an engine for filmmaking, the virtual world is an engine for personal experience. People in them are inspired by what they have done, who they have met, where they've been and what they've bought. The virtual world is as much of a stage as the earthly one. Perhaps more because sets and stages for performance can be assembled with the help of a build setting. The content you're creating is also how you feel while logged in, it is being there on a completely personal scale, you and the double, your avatar.

Q: Is the Virtual World just another form of Theater?

In a word, yes...but it's one that you are authoring every day, one where you are starring in your own cartoon movie every night. Crafting your story as you live it in real-time with words, text, music and sometimes emoticons. It is the story of your virtual life. If you record or capture it of course it is theater, it is film.

And the story of my own virtual life, in existence since 2002 has given me an incredible amount of material for a great piece of work, a life's work to be honest. Utilizing my two decades of experience I am presenting in this weeks blog the trailer for Mambo Motel ~ The Metaverse Musical. It is a show which takes place in a virtual world. It is the theater of the Metaverse, here it is the story of a Prince who wishes to escape the glare of the media and find a place where he can just...be himself. He finds anonymity and much more by logging into a virtual world, winning and losing at love and riches, but ultimately finding himself by losing himself within his virtual identity. 

A story based on a multitude of personal experiences that features an iconic cast of characters: The Prince who wishes to be understood for who he is and not the trappings of his birth; his valet who'd like a friendship but can't due to class differences; a woman who wishes to stay forever young; a 15 year old boy who wants to be a man; a young widow who finds she can keep her dead husband alive through becoming his avatar and a clothing store manager who feels he is really female, but without healthcare to pay for a gender reassignment, plays against race, age and gender in Mambo Motel. When center stage lights up, we enter the metaverse. Only the audience knows who is behind the fun, hip, colorful Mambos onstage.

Mambo Motel brings the virtual and the physical together. Human actors are in the virtual world and game engine characters play who is behind them. The avatars existence within the world becomes the human reality.  Another theme of the story is that while you have a human skin of chance, you express who you really are in your avatar skin of choice, here is the theatre of the double.  Participating in this bright new world, unencumbered by the reality, or even the physics of the earthly plane. There are 16 amazing original songs which reflect what it is like to be an avatar, what it is like to be online and find our true selves and one another in the Metaverse. Jane Goodall said we humans are "meaning seeking creatures," in text and one another we find that meaning. 

With the ability to create sets, stages, characters, to perform in voice and song, the ability to use Metaverses as theatre is very rich because in finding meaning we find not only our stories, we share the stories of other people and want to tell them. Virtual Worlds and Metaverse have a long history of filmmaking too, game engine cinema is often called "machinima", or cinema made on machine. We can thank Hugh Hancock for that term, unfortunately he is now logged permanently in afterlife.com, he was a great visionary and pioneer in this field. I believe the first machinima film was in 1996 called  "Diary of A Camper"  with dialogue displayed as text messages. There is enormous output from those in multi-user dimensions who use screen capture such as fraps and a variety of other recording programs. For a really good look and comprehensive review of some of the most exciting game engine content out there, which includes movies done within metaverses, I recommend the monthly podcast Completely Machinima.  

Mambo Motel ~ The Metaverse Musical is a testimony to the beauty, splendor and wonder of the virtual worlds. The strategic plan is to film it on a smaller stage, then stream it and also have a multi metaverse world premiere. After which we'd like to move it to off-Broadway then Broadway. We are looking for sponsors and there are opportunities for branding, product placement and XR code happenings within the play. 

Mambo Motel is the musical for our times, both celebration and cautionary tale with memorable songs and a fabulous storyline, not unlike The Wizard of Oz. It has a provenance which gives it an authenticity and reflects what the Metaverse is yesterday, today and tomorrow, for behind each of our avatars beats a human heart.

If you have a question, please send it to info@Pookymedia.com with Metaquette in the subject.


1 Jun 2022

Metaquette #VirtualSecurity Q5

Weekly QA with the Doyenne of the Metaverse....Pooky Amsterdam

There are more than a few ways to deal with the intolerables of the Metaverse and you know they're out there. It is no less upsetting nor shocking to be assaulted, especially in this new bright happy environment you decided to check out for fun. No one wants to be attacked anywhere, perhaps least of all at the arcade. 

Q: What do I do about someone who keeps doing and saying inappropriate things? 

If you are being disrespected in Instant Message, mute or ignore works best. But if some avatar is standing there trying to get under your skin or into your pants it's more problematic, and if they have friends, this is escalating fast. Various C-Suites should be focusing more on the safety of their users. To make the metaverse a protected place for people to go to, plus avoid terrible publicity at the least.  Fifty-Nine per cent of gamer women feel the need to hide their gender, that's a problem.  Free speech and anonymity clash repeatedly on the Internet, should we want the Metaverse to be a better version of reality or must it only be a reflection of it?

In many Metaverses there are ways to handle difficult avatars and becoming familiar with the User Interface is crucial. Find out where the report buttons are, how to derender someone and/or mute them, so if faced with a bully, you can literally disappear them. If they don't exist, do you care as much? You should always be able to immediately exit a region when you feel threatened, or even quit the game and log in somewhere else. That might feel like "letting them win," which is never satisfying, but it will work and protect you to some extent. And if you write the perp's name down you can file a complaint against them later. 

When these idiots come out of the woodwork on FB or twitter what do you do? Ignore. However, it's not quite the same thing because of the physical telepresence you feel - it is more of an assault, you are your avatar and your avatar is you. You know these trolls thrive on attention, but this kind of encounter can really sour a virtual environment, especially for a first timer. These are powerful experiences people have, and some can leave scars. With competition being what it is for people to join in, this first user experience is vital. A Metaverse is trying to entice them into freedom and glory. To do, own, see and have things which are not available in the physical world. It should not be a trial, users of their new world must feel secure.

For all the money pouring into virtual spaces, "on the grid" moderators are also needed. It would be great to have some kind of moderation and safety measures on board so harassment / verbal abuse can be dealt with swiftly. There are degrees of harassment, and people do have different levels of tolerance, but being racially slurred, sexually tormented and otherwise brutalized can't be allowed in the Metaverse. The best way to combat these hateful crimes would be with a live moderation team. Live help should be around, but it's expensive. That cost could be lessened with pay in coin of the realm and other perks like being an ingame god. This is an area where one might suggest AI policebots who'd review the chat that just transpired and if sordid, aggressive or rude enough, eject the offensive player and ban their ISP. But do we really want a NannyBot State? Get some Mods!!

Corporate accountability in launching these playgrounds does need various checks set up to prevent harassment, but human willfulness can stop anything. A recent story highlights the failure of Metas' Horizon's border when a new "Meta-teer" was assaulted by two male avatars. There are tools which can be used to deflect "contact" but the user had been encouraged to turn it off. And they did. It is easy to say, do not disable Personal Boundary for the first avatar you meet, but Meta...if you are listening, everyone should have to keep their Personal Boundary on for at least 48 hours. This means its in place as a safety function when getting to know the new place. 

If you own land however, there are generally ways to set bans and barriers to allow you to determine who gets into your inner sanctum, but when you first spawn, it is usually in a place which is public, ie. not sold or rented to an individual user. Whatever checks are in place, the "Wild West" anything can happen feeling of the Metaverse promises new worlds of excitement, and it is a selling point.  It is also essential to realize that we are still all too human behind our 3.0 animated figures, and some of us are destructive.

For example, destruction and its cohorts mean there can be all kinds of "Griefing" including disruption of events, speakers, shows, raves, etc.  One famous example happened over 15 years ago during a CNET interview in Second Life of Anshe Chung's virtual offices was flooded by flying penises. Yes such is the power and awe of the Metaverse. Something those building them hand over fist should pay attention to by considering what has already happened in other older virtual worlds.

Having some kind of system where known harassers are listed might be effective, like an Avatars Most Unwanted list?  People just make new avatars. What about a repel button where you can target the person within the "too close zone" and make them go away? That would work, until then here is an excellent paper on what we need to consider for the multi user immersive experience.

These are new worlds, we need very good guidelines for them. In general I would venture to say that we need to address the growth of hate speech,  death threats, verbal and textural attacks which are an infringement on society at large. Meta societies are made up of people who deserve to feel and be safe in these new environments, from this new get-go.

If you have a question, send an email to info@pookymedia.com with Metaquette in the subject heading and it will be answered on the blog. Till next week...