The concept of the Metaverse is a continuous online 3D universe that combines multiple virtual spaces. It’s the next step on from the internet. It means users can work, meet, game and socialize in these 3D spaces. We are not quite there yet, but some platforms have metaverse-like elements. Video games and Virtual Reality are two examples. So, we need to keep a careful watch on developments to make sure the Metaverse is inclusive and accessible.
Another term for the Metaverse is digital immersive environments. It sounds science fiction, but this fiction is becoming a fact. Someone is designing these environments, but are they considering equity, diversity and inclusion? Zallio and Clarkson decided to tackle this issue and did some research on where the industry is heading.
Several companies are involved in the development of digital immersive environments. So before they get too far in development it’s important to define some principles for the design of a good Metaverse. Zallio and Clarkson came up with ten principles that embrace inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility and safety.
10 Principles for designing a good Metaverse
- is open and accessible
- is honest and understandable
- is safe and secure
- is driven by social equity and inclusion
- is sustainable
- values privacy, ethics and integrity
- guarantees data protection and ownership
- empowers diversity through self-expression
- innovates responsibly
- complements the physical world
Their paper is insightful and provides some important areas for discussion and research. We need developers to consider the essentials of inclusion, diversity and accessibility. Zallio and Clarkson advise that designers can learn from the past to reduce pitfalls in the future. As the Sustainable Development Goals say, “leave no-one behind”.
Synopsis of the paper
1. The Metaverse appears as the next big opportunity in the consumer electronics scenario.
2. Several companies are involved with its development.
3. It is extremely important to define principles and practices to design a good Metaverse.
4. Qualitative research pointed out to challenges and opportunities to design a safe, inclusive, accessible Metaverse that guarantees equity and diversity.
5. Ten principles for designing a good Metaverse embrace inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility and safety.
From the abstract
The Metaverse is shaping a new way for people interact and socialise. By 2026 a quarter of the population will spend at least an hour a day in the Metaverse. This requires consideration of challenges and opportunities that will influence the design of the Metaverse.
A study was carried out with industry experts to explore the social impact of the Metaverse through the lens of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Safety (IDEAS). The goal was to identify directions business has to undertake.
The results indicated the nature of future research questions and analysis to define a first manifesto for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Safety in the Metaverse.
This manifesto is a starting point to develop a narrative, brainstorm questions and eventually provide answers for designing a Metaverse as a place for people that does not substitute the physical world but complements it.