- Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are important for the metaverse platforms because they are the base of a good user experience, which is vital to making the tech mainstream.
At Davos 2022, the World Economic Forum introduced a new plan to make the Metaverse fair, safe, and easy to use for everyone.
As part of this initiative, we look at the challenges that different metaverse platforms face regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
The metaverse user experience is all about diversity, Equity, and inclusion.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are important for the metaverse platforms because they are the base of a good user experience, which is vital to making the tech mainstream.
If a metaverse platform doesn’t make it easy for everyone to use, it could make a bad first impression on new users. For example, if the first thing female users see is sexual harassment or rude comments about their gender, they might not want to use the platform again.
If certain user groups don’t get involved, the metaverse platform won’t be able to build the “network effect” that is needed to keep attracting mainstream users.
After all, we can observe how the “network effect,” which is when the value of a product or service goes up as more people use it, has been a key part of the internet’s history.
User communities differ depending on metaverse spaces design.
Different metaverse spaces have different user bases and DEI challenges because of things like the platform’s style, its history, the culture of early adopters, and so on.
For example, the kinds of people who use Rec Room and VRChat are very different.
VRChat’s customizable avatars bring in more tech-savvy users who are older, more outgoing, and more interested in meeting new people.
In contrast to VRChat, Rec Room is more popular among younger people who like to play games like paintball and laser tag.
People who are old enough to be interested in investments and collections are drawn to the Web 3 metaverse platform Somnium because it has decentralized finance and non-fungible tokens.
DEI problems for both centralized and decentralized metaverse platforms
Whether a metaverse platform is centralized, where a single entity runs the network, or decentralized, where a platform is open-sourced, and users have a lot of control over their own experiences, has a significant impact on the kinds of people who use it, its culture, and the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) problems it faces.
The table below summarizes the pros and cons of DEI for both centralized and decentralized metaverse platforms.
For centralized platforms, the companies’ business strategies and long-term product roadmaps are used to manage how the user community is made up.
Roblox’s ad, for example, is a fun mix of different gaming video clips that try to attract gamers who are looking for new and exciting ways to play.
On the other hand, meta’s Horizon Worlds ads show different social activities and avatars of different genders and races to show that its platform is for everyone, especially content creators.
Meta, which is a relatively new metaverse platform, shows that it wants to attract a wide range of users and is determined to catch up to other platforms by inviting creators to join.
But many users worry about centralized metaverse platforms because the business model determines the overall algorithms and functions of the platform.
People are afraid that the metaverse platforms will act like some social media apps, which give users content that is both interesting and hard to get off of in order to get them to spend more time on the app on average and make more money from ads.
These kinds of algorithms can make it easy to spread fake news, hate speech, and racist ideas. Jaron Lanier, who started the field of virtual reality, says that tech companies should look for ways to make money on the internet besides ads.
“We can’t live in a society where the only way for two people to talk to each other is if a third person who wants to control them pays for it,” he says.
Are decentralized platforms for the metaverse the way to move forward?
Decentralized platforms seem to answer the problems we have with the internet culture we have now. The user community can decide how the platforms grow, and the token system gives developers and users of the platforms new ways to make money.
For platforms like Decentraland, the Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), which is made up of users, is in charge of making decisions like charging fees, allocating tokens to development efforts, and replacing members who are in charge of tasks like contract security.
But the decentralized platforms are more likely to attract people who share the same values as the DAO members and existing users.
From a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) point of view, planning and carrying out a long-term, all-encompassing DEI strategy to reach users from different backgrounds through the crowdsourcing process is hard.
Also, fixing problems is a slow process, so it will take decentralized platforms longer to find a solution when things go wrong.
Take the meltdown of Luna as an example. It took about seven days for the community to agree on a plan to save the Terra network from the problems. Compared to the speed with which Web2 companies make decisions, this process was not good enough for a crisis of this size.
What platforms for the metaverse can offer in terms of empathy and freedom
A well-made metaverse platform will let users experience lives other than their own and understand other people better.
Users can change their avatars to try out being of a different race, gender, or even species. They can talk to people who don’t usually live in their towns.
With all of the above experiences, we can expect that our future generations will understand different groups more. They will be able to feel the pain and happiness of other groups more easily.
Also, a good metaverse platform will make it easier for people of the future to be themselves. On Metaverse platforms, people who are tired of how other people treat them because of who they are can take a break.
All of the above, though, is based on the idea that the metaverse platforms are well-made. DEI issues need to be thought about from the beginning.