Metaverse, if brought to reality, will be the best, if not the most complicated digital platform created by humans. The concept of a virtual world is alluring but it comes with its own set of potential concerns. Building the experience architecture for platforms created within the Metaverse will be complicated at best and nightmarish at worst.
Metaverse will still take some time to be feasible as its application and visibility is tied to a series of technological advancements still under development.
As more and more brands jump on to the Metaverse bandwagon, the momentum will continue to grow. Nike is building the first Meta-Theme park, Disney wants to build its own theme mark, and Barbados has even become the first nation with its own embassy in the Metaverse. More people will adopt to the new platform, as it captivates more and more cultural material, reinforcing certain behaviours and mindsets that we have seen in popular culture, movies, novels and series. This will lead towards a cultural naturalisation of these behaviours.
When a Metaverse world becomes reality, major impacts will be felt across spheres altering the very dynamics of the way we work, live etc. The first impact will be felt in the area of infrastructure and construction because Metaverse first and foremost visualises completely virtual spaces.
It will also alter how Experience Designers act using tools, ideas and possibilities previously not heard of. Let us understand the aspects of the Metaverse that can potentially cause some problems in the future.
As designers migrate from pages to stages, the first movement will be to copy real world references. We will move from Skeuomorphism or digital interface objects that mimic real life objects to Metamorphism. Metamorphism is Skeuomorphism with an added layer of immersion. Until users adapt to what abstract spaces can be, it makes sense to use reality based virtual stages because it reduces the risk of disorientation and sets context for how users are expected to behave. For example the Metasite of a Bank should look like a typical bank interior at least in the beginning.
Until virtual reality become autonomous and has its own design elements, it needs to be related with physical objects that are familiar to users. This will solve for the potential concern of disorientation and instability in the Metaverse. A pillar, from the experience standpoint provides a sense of stability and safety by analogy with real circumstances.
Localisation: Context for Specific Actions
Users behave according to the expected set of rules they’ve learnt concerning that place. Every culture has codes of conduct enforced and maintained for every occasion/space. Thus the user is inside the solution created by the designer rather than interacting with an interface in front of them. Therefore the user experience designer will need to be more of an architect, stepping into the shoes of a curator. Designing experiences will be designing primarily ambience and sequence and for this a vast scope of architectural reference will be needed, especially during the process of level design.
Mechanisations: Rules of mechanical physics from the visual dimension
Since stages are designed resembling physical spaces with socially agreed conducts, materials used must also perform a similar role as they do in reality. This is to say stability, gravity, inertia, contact, collision, occlusion, reflection and refraction and other real world phenomena must be carefully considered in the overall experience. For the perfect interaction with elements within a Metasite, they should perform as expected in real life.
This stability and predictability is crucial if you want users and their Metaverse persona to behave as expected.
Dislocation: Virtual – physical movement between scenes
Continuity is extremely important in the Metaverse. Otherwise it leaves the user feeling completely disoriented. The transition from one stage/space to another should be as smooth and natural as possible. User have the capacity to mentally map the space, and if designers change these positions, or badly designed transitions will severely affect the sense of space and therefore the overall experience. Thus designers will also need to think in terms of speciality and plan for it in time.
Relations: Exchange of information through specific interfaces of contact
Another area of potential concern will be in the design of human relations inside the Metaverse. If the action is extremely complicated, the user will lose interest. Thus designers will need to think of how to make it simpler for users to interact with one another inside the Metaverse.
Our new digital reality has meant that Metaverse would cause a lot of disruption in the real world. If real world services don’t adapt, they could face elimination. Therefore the virtualisation of spaces adds a new dimension of care and development to most of the real world interactions we already take part in. Since UX designers will now have to be more human centric, there is a lot of complexity that could arise in the field. Metaverse design will mean a lot of changes for them. From adapting to new technologies, learning new tools and even facing new social, ethical and legal questions, UX designers will be in charge of even more responsibility for aspects of human experience.