How Web3 projects make culture virtual

The metaverse is the future, or at least that’s the claim of many associated with the industry – a claim that can be supported by the amount of activity pouring into the Web3 metaverse domain.

Engagement with the 2022 metaverse is less like a Sims-esque video game and more like government agencies creating virtual offices to connect with future generations of customers or countries facing the existential threat of climate change using the metaverse to create digital versions of to create itself.

One way brands and organizations are using the metaverse is by hosting large-scale virtual events similar to those they already hold in real life.

This kind of metaverse activity has been seen in many iterations over the past year, including the metaverse’s first ever fashion week in April 2022. The event invited fashion enthusiasts, designers and brands in virtual reality to participate in activities that reflected real-life events during fashion weeks around the world. Catwalks, DJ-led after-parties, talkbacks and more were all included in the digital version of the iconic fashion industry event.

The Sandbox metaverse hosted a Pride festival in June. Similar to Fashion Week, what could be experienced at a physical event was recreated, but with extras only possible through digital reality, such as a Pride-themed game for festival-goers to play.

Follow the rainbow trail to the Valley of Belonging to celebrate #Pride, where you can be your most authentic self! @People0fCrypto presents a game that highlights cultural experiences among underrepresented communities in #Web3.

Let’s go! ⤵️

— The Sandbox (@TheSandboxGame) June 24, 2022

Decentraland recently held a four-day music festival with mega headliners including Björk, Ozzy Osbourne and Soulja Boy. The event had multiple stages designed with the aesthetic of the performing artist along with other interactive attractions for festival goers.

Stunning performance, thanks for the show @bjork @decentraland

— Agus (@Agus0xyz) Nov 14, 2022

Physical festivals of this caliber cost hundreds of thousands, even hundreds of millions of dollars in things like the popular music festival Coachella. Cost aside, some festivals require years of advanced planning, with months of physical preparation time. To call it a major achievement to put on a mega event is putting it mildly.

As festivals and large-scale events like fashion week become increasingly digitized and built into the metaverse, the question arises of what it takes to create such an experience. Moreover, how does it differ from its physical counterpart?

Complex yet creative

A common thread among those involved in large-scale metaverse events is that it is indeed complex. Since it is still a relatively new evolution of online activity for both planners and users, there is a bigger learning curve for everyone involved.

Akhbar Hamid is the co-founder of People of Crypto Lab, which hosted this year’s Pride festival at the Sandbox. He told Cointelegraph:

“An important thing to remember is that throwing festivals and experiences into the metaverse is a whole new experience and we’re building and creating what that blueprint looks like every day.”

This “blueprint” involves a different set of logistics and planning depending on the virtual world.

Related: Al tech aims to make metaverse design accessible to creators

Hamid gave the example of The Sandbox. Since it’s not a fully open metaverse yet and is still in alpha, there’s a bit more planning involved:

“Metaverse worlds allow you to create and build existing worlds and reimagine existing user experience, allowing you to execute in a shorter time frame.”

In general, it can take months to build new experiences, he confirmed, with additional time for bug testing afterwards.

Borders do not exist

One thing everyone commented on is the limitless possibilities of using space in the metaverse, which simply doesn’t exist in the physical world. Raluca Cherciu, the CEO and co-founder of Unpaired — which operated the OxArena venue during Decentraland’s four-day music festival — told Cointelegraph:

“In the metaverse, what’s possible takes on a whole new meaning and the laws of physics don’t apply.”

She continued to say that as a venue with no spatial constraints, from an architectural point of view, they could really create anything the imagination conspired to do. In the metaverse, “you don’t have to worry about things like permits and can have a lot more expansive areas to play with and build in.”

Related: Spatial digital art exhibitions to take metaverse experiences to the next level

Hamid also pointed out that apart from no restrictions on space in the metaverse, there are no boundaries. People from all over can attend a metavers festival and minimize typical festival travel costs such as airfare and accommodation:

“This opens the doors to global festivals where everyone can enjoy the same experience thousands of miles away.”

However, problems arise in a borderless environment. As Cherciu pointed out, a big hurdle is creating schedules that work across multiple time zones, which she says could affect attendance at the event.

Community central

Nevertheless, the community aspect is one of the most important elements for digital festival planners – and not just in terms of attendance. The community is the inspiration for everything it takes to build the experience.

Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, senior producer of extended reality and events at the Decentraland Foundation, told Cointelegraph that the goal of a metavers festival is to give attendees an “unparalleled sense of belonging.”

She said there will be certain aspects of metaverse experiences that fall short, such as the physical presence of thousands of people or hugging friends at a concert. However:

“I always want to emphasize that virtual events are not a replacement for IRL events, but rather complements that allow for more holistic experiences.”

To make a virtual experience fully complementary, cohesive and intriguing to the physical community, Hamid says an understanding of the community the festival is dedicated to is very important.

He said creators need to make sure “the game and experience you’re creating speaks to the audience you’re celebrating,” adding:

“You want to create a moment that the existing Web3 community will enjoy and an experience that the Web2 community will want to experience as they begin to explore metaverse worlds.”

One way not to be overlooked in bridging these experiences is to choose artists with an authentic interest in interacting with their community in a new way.

Web3 talent

As mainstream artists continue to find their way into the world of Web3, festivals and other large-scale virtual events can help further this trend.

Casimiro says performing in virtual worlds gives artists much more creative freedom, stating, “They have complete freedom to tell their stories and explore their unique stories as they please.”

She says the metaverse can even help artists personify themselves as characters or elements from their songs. Identity in the metaverse has been a big topic for users and digital avatars.

When it comes to artists, the metaverse is also “a space for identity expansion through storytelling”. This year, entertainment network MTV introduced a new “Best Metaverse Performance” award as the official competition category for their annual awards.

Another aspect of metaverse performance, says Hamid, is that those on the backend can get live stats and perform “live social listening” to monitor community satisfaction with performance.

Considerations on a large scale

Aside from community satisfaction, there are other hurdles to consider when creating a digital festival.

“Keeping communication channels open and organized is one of the biggest challenges,” says Casimiro. “Especially if you are dealing with multiple platforms.” She also said she has to strike a balance between encouraging artists to push their creative boundaries while ensuring that technology is available to support these dreams.

Hamid cited an age-old problem that the Web3 space is constantly facing, namely education, stating, “We need to make entering these spaces more accessible and educate the masses about all that is possible with this technology.”

The simultaneous task of learning what it takes to put on a digital festival while also teaching communities how to participate is no small task. However, Hamid believes that festivals are one of the best ways to do that.

“Cultural moments like festivals, like Pride, Women’s History Month, Black History Month are all great times to create unique metaverse experiences that help raise awareness among mass consumers of the new technology,” he said.

Look forward to something

The metaverse isn’t going anywhere. According to a third quarter DappRadar report, hundreds of millions of dollars were poured into metaverse development in the last quarter alone.

The metaverse remains a big part of the success of other Web3 tools, such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). According to industry observers, one key thing that will contribute to the success of the metaverse and its major events is accessibility. Hamid said the future of metaverse festivals will be “accessible from any device, anywhere.”

Related: The metaverse is becoming a platform to unite fashion communities

Casimiro added that she has been producing virtual concerts since 2019 and has no doubts they will continue to be a staple of the industry: “Over the past three years there has been a cultural shift towards a global village with global access to content .”

For Cherciu, accessibility and social interaction will be key elements for all metaverse activities:

“The metaverse opens up new opportunities for people in economic, physical or mental distress to participate in socially rewarding experiences that they otherwise would not be able to access or be a part of.”

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