By Jonathan Cohen, CEO and Founder, MetaNept
Once the stuff of science fiction, the impending metaverse is now making headlines in the real world. There is no shortage of discussions about what the metaverse will be look like, but who is actually designing this gigantic virtual world in the present? Any major virtual design company is not without its challenges, especially when it requires true immersion like this. If we’re going to design truly immersive metaverses, we’ll need the help of forward-thinking artists and designers who understand exactly what it takes to create something hyper-realistic but never weird.
Old tools, new solutions
The Metaverse, simply put, needs to be eye-catching. It needs artists, designers, and architects from outside the tech world to partner with tech designers. Collaboration is key here, as the metaverse should look like the real world, but also have its own visual style and appeal.
Until now, the Metaverse’s aesthetic has been dominated by nasty graphics and cartoonish NFTs, most of which are visually uninteresting when not downright ugly. What metaverse development has at its fingertips is the opportunity to experiment and create new forms of digital art in a creator-led space.
What metaverse design needs are creatives who can make metaverses more engaging by focusing on how people intuitively navigate the digital space. In other words, it needs creatives who first understand how people function and move in physical space, and transfer those principles to the metaverse. Good design takes time and can easily slide down the priority list, especially since tech companies are notoriously leery of bringing in outside perspectives. But when it comes to the metaverse, it’s key to ensuring hyper-realistic immersion.
The Game Designer’s Handbook
Video game designers were among the first to create captivating online worlds that truly immersed the user, and tech companies should remove several pages from their manuals when designing metaverse experiences. Game designers’ understanding of virtual experiences, especially in the context of augmented reality/virtual reality, could prove invaluable here. Collaborating with the game industry and even 3D designers would take the myopia out of technology design. And let’s not forget the creator economy, where creators of all kinds are testing the limits of what’s possible with digital art and interactive apps.
Immersion will be the defining standard of user experience in the Metaverse, and specific design for it is paramount. It’s time for companies to trust creatives who understand real-world immersion to create it. It’s a crucial way for companies to avoid creating a metaverse that functions as a boring sales platform, and create one that fosters an experience economy where events and activities are as engaging as the digital property it allows.
Design for maximum metaverse impact
Creating this digital universe will not be an easy task, as design ultimately determines how people interact with their surroundings. But it will offer companies the opportunity to create mutually beneficial relationships with a new generation of innovative artists, designers, gamers, architects and engineers.
It’s those types of creatives with a foot in the real world who understand immersion best. True immersion comes from sophisticated spaces and avatars with individualized characteristics, intuitive movement, natural visual depth, and precise perspective. An ugly cartoon bobble head avatar on a boring grid won’t cut it and certainly won’t encourage anyone to join.
How people perceive the things they watch, read or see will matter as much in the virtual world as in the physical world. Compelling virtual environments require the same design essentials and visual strategies that are used daily in physical environments. We should aim for naturalistic metaverses where cities, objects, and people are dimensionally accurate. Surfaces should reflect light and objects should cast shadows. Footsteps should look like footsteps. And that’s just the baseline.
Broaden the digital horizon
Beyond aesthetic appeal, the fact that metaverses are extensions of human society should not be taken lightly. People need to be able to communicate, connect, work, learn and play. Most importantly, safety must be a priority made possible, in part, through ethical design. Truly artistic metaverses have the potential to respond to alternative narratives, cultures and arts that have been left out of the mainstream.
Just as in the physical world, creation in the metaverses has been in the hands of a small minority. We have the ability to bring in real-world artists and designers and transform the quality, environment, mood, and look of an unprecedented digital space. To make the idea of the metaverse more appealing and promote its adoption, we need to make it look, sound, and feel that people already intuitively understand and want to be a part of. Attracting people ultimately works the same way in the physical and digital worlds. Let’s treat it as such.
About the Author:
Jonathan Cohen is the CEO of MetaNept and has worked in marketing and project development for the past ten years. He has been investing and trading in the crypto space since 2017. He is an expert in crypto, NFT and DeFi.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.