3 Oct 2022

Metaquette #VirtualCommunity #BuildingCommunity #Metaverse Q20

 Tips & Tricks for negotiating The Metaverse with...Pooky Amsterdam

It is chance that makes us family, but choice that makes us friends. When we find others who like the same stuff as we do it can create a kind of clanship. We find things in common with others and form bonds, friendships. Sometimes they can be casual, or deeper, but our group, our community gives us strength, support and fun. Can we find this where we mainly see an avatar expression of who we are?

Q: How can I build Community in my new virtual hangout in The Metaverse?

As I look to Autumn and tidying up the garden, I noticed there are burrs which attach themselves to clothing. These burrs have multiple fuzzy and sticky sides to them, which allow an attachment point from any angle, and they immediately made me think about stickiness, which led me to think about community, and how we grow community.

It can be from just one singular attachment point, let's say you find someone else who loves a streaming series as you do and you bond over talking about the various characters and plot points. If you like their opinion on the show, then you might be open also to a recommendation they make on another series or even a new beverage or product. The one attachment point of the show can lead to others till you find you have formed multiple bonds, or multiple attachment points. If there are enough of them, this new person might even become part of your broader friendship group or community over time. If not then the friendship is limited as is the interaction on shared topics.

The Metaverse would love for people to be part of their community, and there are some which have tremendous ones already. There is a powerful community of educators on Roblox and Minecraft, there are Furry communities on VRChat, there are communities of people who have grown together over the years through the American Cancer Society Relay For Life on Second Life. Just because our identities are incorporating an avatar doesn't mean our predilections, preferences and tastes stop at our cartoon fingers. They don't and we will bring our likes, dislikes etc to wherever those fingers take us with whatever handheld devices we are holding.

The question is how to build community. And community is built around something beyond just existing on an earthly platform or one where the makeup of your persona and property are stored on the same servers. We share the experiences of being human, but are we bonded to all other humans? It is the same in The Metaverse. What makes for that bond? Those multiple attachments which define the meaning of friendship with one and others? 

Sometimes it is instant, sometimes it takes a long time and sometimes it doesn't happen. What The Metaverse does great is bring people together around a variety of reasons and then lets Fate pollinate.  People enter the same space and find themselves in a virtual destination with a complete stranger / strangers, they get to talking, maybe a bond is formed and the seeds of relationships begin. Forming groups within The Metaverse encourages the users to build community within them. Allowing the creation of groups can be a "Premium" offering too, and forms contracts with the users. It is a mutual investment and that can build a strong base for the future.

Last week it was announced that Walmart had opened a place in Roblox where all who entered could become Walmartians. Not really but they are keen on building their branded experience to "Create a new community of shoppers."  There are 230 million active members, and 40 million games. Aimed at a young demographic that reaches this market here, which is a good application.  I understand that meeting someone in the appliance aisle of Walmart would probably be more fun, colorful and interesting in Roblox, but will this extend to the kind virtual lunchroom moments which lead to building a community with friends? Because friends will keep someone coming back to a place to find them again.

Companies hope we buy their stuff and find that immediate gratification in a virtual world, until we want a new toy, and buy some new stuff. Shopping in the metaverse might be considered the "new toy" on the block. Unfortunately unhappy people make better consumers, and there is no market force  which supports emotional happiness perse, only the happiness you receive after your purchase is completed. If there was Freedom from Want let's face it the trillion dollar advertising industry would collapse. And I personally do not think that whoever dies with the biggest virtual inventory wins.  

We don't want freedom from play or freedom from friends and being a part of the Metaverse means you can find new friends and community. How many communities have spawned around playing games can't even be counted really, there are so many. It all comes down to not how much money we spend, but how much time we spend, because you can't buy friends ( yet, though I'm sure AI is working on that right now). One can only build community, build friends with the investment of time and energy which comes from a desire to know more about the community and the people. 

I had a great afternoon in Spatial hosted by Daniel van der Waals who runs a really happening group called Metaverse Explorers. He recently hosted a Music In The Metaverse event. Building community is something that Musicians, and I would think creative people want to be connected around, musicians want their music to be heard, artists want their artwork to be seen, and what better than having a group of folks following and even looking forward to your next great piece? Plus being able to access it anywhere, anytime and meeting others who dig the same thing too.

Sometimes digging the same too can create community for one group of people and calamity for others. This recent Wall Street Journal podcast part 2 on the early days of Second Life is chock full of this and there are lessons to be learned here for those building it so we will come.

We want to belong to community built around shared experience, but just like that burr with its multiple attachment points, the more ways "we" connect means the more ways we will "stick" together in The Metaverse.  There have to be multiple reasons for going there, staying there and building community with others, a community we want to keep alive and thriving.

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

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