The Impact of the Metaverse on the Events Industry - Insights From Brandt Krueger

The Impact of the Metaverse on the Events Industry – Insights From Brandt Krueger

Metaverses encompass persistent and immersive 3D environments that use new and emerging technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, to enhance the experience. Through virtual worlds, people can experience things beyond the screen.

Despite popular belief, Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta isn’t the only or first player in the metaverse. Second Life, a multimedia platform developed by Linden Lab, has already been implementing the concept of the Metaverse for more than 20 years.

Current Concepts like Meta combine virtual, augmented, and physical reality to create an immersive experience. While older platforms like Second Life do not have virtual reality components and only take place on screens.

What does the metaverse mean for events?

In event contexts, the metaverse refers to attendees entering a digital event space as their avatar and moving around, interacting with other attendees, and ultimately curating their own experience. It differs from today’s standard virtual events, in which everyone sees the same video feed.

Does this really represent the future of events, or is it just the latest technology buzzword? It is evident that there is an appetite for these types of models when looking at Epic Games’ “Fortnite” video game, which in April 2020 had 12 million fans create avatars and gather in a virtual space to watch rapper Travis Scott perform.

Bill Gates recently predicted that most virtual meetings would move from 2D camera image grids to a metaverse, a 3D space with digital avatars, within the next two to three years.

10times chatted with Brandt Krueger, Technical Producer, Educator, Speaker, and Consultant for the Meeting and Events Industry regarding the Metaverse and its impact on the events industry. 

In addition to being the highly acclaimed instructor for the Event Leadership Institute’s Virtual Event and Meeting Management certificate course, Brandt is a technical producer and consultant based in Minneapolis, MN.

Over the past 20 years, he has spoken at events and conferences around the globe, published articles in magazines and websites, and been consistently ranked among the most influential individuals in the industry.

We asked him some of the most pressing questions regarding the Metaverse, and here’s what he said. 

As a Technical Producer and Consultant for the Meeting and Events Industry, what do you think about the impact of the Metaverse on the events industry as a whole?

“For the short term, I think the impact will be minimal. There is no “Metaverse” at this point, only a bunch of different VR meeting options, and many of those are based on a handful of underlying platforms.

Given that we haven’t coalesced around a single desktop computing platform (Windows, Apple, Linux), or around a mobile computing platform (Apple, Android), it’s more likely that there will be several metaverse options,  most likely Meta Quest, Apple, and one or two others.

There may be apps that exist across these platforms that can share assets such as locations or clothing, but they’ll still be siloed ecosystems for the most part.

For now, “meeting in the metaverse” can be added to planners’ list of potential venues, but it has to be the right fit for the attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, and all the rest of the stakeholders- just like real-world venues.

No one venue is perfect for every group, so you don’t have to rush to get your meetings into the metaverse. Keep engaging your stakeholders, though, to find out their level of interest, and maybe consider doing one or smaller events in VR so people can decide whether it’s worth pursuing larger ones.”

What types of events would this work best for?

“Obviously, it’s stereotypical to say younger, more tech-savvy audiences, but that’s not always the case. In fact, older, less tech-savvy audiences are more likely to be blown away by the technology but are going to need a lot more help with setup and technical support.

It also very much depends on the subject matter of the event, and the types of information being presented. Presentations that can benefit from 3D graphics, immersive environments, or first-person POV videos can all be dramatically presented in 3D VR events. 

Artistic, creative, and musical events can all be enhanced by VR’s ability to put the attendee literally anywhere and be anything, limited only by our creativity- which is why it drives me nuts that so much focus is being put on putting people in 3D visualizations of convention centres.”

How does the Metaverse differ from the virtual events?

“The term “virtual events” has actually bothered me from day one, and I’ve been trying to push the phrase “online events” instead. In that case, VR or metaverse events are actually a specific type of online event, taking place in a VR headset or 3D environment.”

Do you think there are any downsides to the Metaverse?

“Fatigue from wearing the headsets is real. I tried attending an event in VR last year and was done after about 15 minutes, despite enjoying the experience and thinking it was a really cool demonstration of the technology. For these events to become more popular and longer-lasting, the headsets will need to get lighter weight and higher resolution. 

Plus, there’s always going to be a certain percentage of people that VR will always make nauseated, no matter the quality of the visuals.

Then there are accessibility issues, as much of the VR experience is visual, it’s going to be even more important to have high-quality audio for people with visual impairments, and not to rely exclusively on the whiz-bang nature of the visuals to carry your event.”

Even though metaverses have both demonstrable and potential downsides, there can be no doubt that they are going to have an enormous impact on the events industry.

In contrast to thinking that it will completely change and redefine the event landscape as it exists today, a more constructive approach would be to see how it can enrich current hybrid event formats.

The most important thing to remember is that face-to-face interactions are essential to building trust, and although physical interaction will never be replaced, it is not always possible. This is where the metaverse might just prove to be the next best thing.

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