A new kind of reality continues to emerge through the metaverse. Most of us are already aware of its gist: a space where our reality meets the virtual, where we can work, play, or shop in digital worlds. The metaverse’s idealistic goals are never short on promises, built on the potential of the platform to connect us all together despite the distance. When Meta presented the future of virtual reality at Connect 2021, the metaverse was depicted to be diverse, somehow presenting a vast, entirely digital environment where diversity and inclusion are prevalent.
Today, more and more companies and brands are capitalizing on the metaverse’s opportunities. The population of the metaverse is growing, too. In an article by PR Newswire, it was stated that the global metaverse market size is predicted to attain USD 678.8 billion by 2030. Looking at this staggering number as a result of the metaverse’s expanding reach, implementing diversity and inclusion in the virtual spaces has become a great need in order to give its users an even better, more rewarding experience.
Identifying the Pain Points and Addressing Them in the Real World
While it leverages technology, it has been said a couple of times before that the metaverse and the world of gaming have a deep association with each another. After all, the game “Second Life” — a user-centered, virtual world platform – was described as the first metaverse when it was released in 2003. Nowadays, gaming continues to break down barriers in terms of providing the next level of entertainment for its users, eventually crossing over to the metaverse to show more of its potential. Yet, despite the attempt to elevate entertainment and experience, it has to be said that there is still a disparity when it comes to diversity in the gaming industry as well as in the tech spaces: 23.7% of game developers are women, while 76.3% are men. Multiple issues surrounding queer representation in gaming remain evident. As of this year, women only hold 26.7% of tech-related jobs. This stark reality continues to haunt us in our real (non-virtual) lives and will only continue to extend to the metaverse unless it will be addressed today. Companies that are keen on exploring the metaverse must lead by example and implement diversity and inclusion in real-life workspaces so these values can also be reflected in the metaverse.
There is a spark of optimism happening. Currently, we’re seeing two-way conversations between developers and creators that discuss the metaverse community’s feedback: what’s working, what’s not, or what can be improved, especially in the fields of fair play, acceptance, and diversity. To further practice diversity and inclusion without having to sacrifice users’ freedom of expression in the metaverse, global collective Digi Gxl continues to drive initiatives that push for more representation and diversity across all tech spaces. In addition, games and their developers are already taking action. In this video shown at the 2021 Fair Play Summit Talk, experts Roblox, Toya, and Funomena discuss how to create inclusive content in the metaverse. For Rick Fox of startup HiDef, it all starts with forming the right teams: “The focus is putting together the type of team that can see the world from all angles and have a voice that’s unified in a way that’s inclusive of everyone (in the metaverse).”
As a final thought, the metaverse can be the most ideal platform for users to show their individuality and exhibit their freedom of expression. This potential is what makes the virtual world exciting, especially when the possibilities are endless. Prioritize diversity today to reap a future where the metaverse can be a safe space for all, where acceptance and respect can be boundless.