The metaverse is a shared, virtual and interactive space where people can meet, socialise and work. It is an immersive, interactive, 3D environment where people can communicate and interact with each other, whether it’s through avatars or text-based chat. It's the next generation of the web that will enable users to create their own experiences by interacting with the environment around them.
There are many different visions for the metaverse. For the purposes of this article we are going to define the metaverse as a virtual version of our material world with no predetermined physics.
The vision of an 'open metaverse' would be community-owned, community-governed, and freely interoperable, with privacy built-in.
I'm going to explore why it's important to build an inclusive metaverse, how we could go about creating one, and what its impact would be on society.
Why is it important to build an inclusive metaverse?
An inclusive metaverse means that everyone has equal access to its benefits — be it accessibility or affordability. This is particularly important for disabled people or people who experience chronic illnesses which might prevent them from accessing to physical spaces.
With this in mind, it is important that we build an inclusive and accessible metaverse that gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy this exciting new technology.
Inclusion is a fundamental part of any society's success. It involves ensuring that everyone has equal access to resources and opportunities regardless of ability or circumstance. No one should be left behind.
In addition, it could help those who may not have time or money to travel long distances for entertainment purposes. In short: A world where everyone can enjoy their virtual lives as much as possible!
How can we create an inclusive and accessible metaverse?
As our material and virtual worlds intersect further and the power of the web increases, the gap widens between those who are able to participate in virtual spaces and those who are not widens.
These new forms of inequalities can of course combine with existing social inequalities and compound them by carrying over pre-existing differences in human capital into a virtual settings.
Progress where those who are already most able to participate are the only ones considered is not progress, therefore it is imperative that we address accessibility to ensure everyone is able to benefit from the development of the metaverse.
The biggest opportunity of the erosion of the boundaries between our material and our virtual worlds is to evolve participation in society. We can do that but targeting the socio-economic barriers relating to attitudinal, technological, financial, social, enablement & policy that inhibit participation in virtual spaces.
What would the impact of an inclusive metaverse?
A metaverse is a shared, 3D virtual space that can be explored and interacted with by multiple users at the same time. It's could be like a virtual city, but instead of buildings and streets, you have avatars that you can customise to look like you or anyone else.
The metaverse will be a great place to learn new skills, build relationships and share experiences. It could even be used as a place to find work or apply for jobs. The possibilities are endless!
There are many different ways people can participate in building this shared world. Some will create avatars while others will focus on building the infrastructure needed to make everything work. But everyone has a role in making sure it's safe and enjoyable for everyone who wants to participate.
The new era of VR and AR technology creates an opportunity for the metaverse to become more inclusive and accessible so that everyone has equitable opportunities in this immersive digital world.
Inclusion matters in the context of metaverse for two important reasons. First, it allows for greater diversity, which means that diverse groups are represented within metaverse communities.
Second, when people feel included they tend to have better experiences because they know they're being valued as a human being rather than an object or digital avatar. Inclusion is crucial to creating digital societies where everyone feels like they belong.
All people should have a voice and be treated equally, no matter their background or circumstances. The metaverse provides an opportunity to promote inclusion because it can be used as an accessible platform for all.
Our goal with the metaverse is not only to help make existing systems more inclusive but also create brand new ones that will enrich the educational, emotional, and social experiences of users.
If you'd like to learn more you can watch my recent webinar at the bottom of this article that aims to give you useful frameworks, models and perspectives that should be considered throughout the development of metaverse and Web 3.0 in the pursuit of a kinder, ethical, more inclusive, digitally-enabled future.