Technologists describe the metaverse as a persistent, shared, 3D virtual environment. There, people meet for activities ranging from playing games to conducting business. It incorporates such technologies as virtual reality and augmented reality. Mark Zuckerberg, now the Chief Executive of Facebook’s parent company Meta, describes the metaverse as “an embodied internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at.” [1] It essentially describes a parallel virtual world where people can carry out their daily tasks, play, learn, socialize and even live out their entire lives through unique virtual identities or avatars

Rising Importance of User Experience (UX)

User experience has become an essential part of our daily lives. Designers have also standardized the methods, tools and software’s that they use to extend the capabilities of what they can do and design for every kind of experience and user.

This evolution in thinking of how design can benefit the individual user has been a significant shift in the history of design. User experience has changed how we interact with every possible part of our world, whether it’s the alarm that wakes us up in the morning to the way we connect with friends and family or even something as simple as ordering our daily groceries. The emergence of Metaverse design is another such evolution that will forever change our relationship with technology and the way we think about design. [2]

While more and more hype is created about Metaverse by Technology giants such as Facebook, We are at getting closer to the materialization of Metaverse and designers are focusing on creating experiences using Virtual reality, Augmented reality to create a new level of UX Design. UX Designers will be required to think differently, learn new skills and methods to design experiences that are transforms the user into another world.

Disciplines for the Metaverse UX

Today, good design is intuitive, easy to use, and aesthetically pleasing. But in the metaverse, good design is something else entirely — it’s wholly immersive. “When a player and character merge to become a persona, that’s immersion,” wrote Richard Bartle in Designing Virtual Worlds. “That’s what people get from virtual worlds that they can’t get from anywhere else. That’s when they stop playing the world and start living it.”[3]

Designers will have to learn from economics to Engineering as we are creating not a portal, but another simulation from the lens of a human. This creates a lot of ethical challenges as well.

 

 

Behavioural Economics – is a discipline examining how emotional, social and other factors affect human decision-making, which is not always rational, as users do not always have stable preferences or act in their best interests

Sociology – solving various dilemmas and problems regarding our daily activities. It boosts problem-solving skills in people, thus gifting them with the superpower of managing their problems

Psychology – to meet the demand of different mindsets, a designer must need to understand the process of Human minds.

The view of the metaverse first as a human society, rather than a product or service, will be critical to designers for another reason: Designers will be forced to confront the ethics of their design decisions in much more profound ways.

The Metaverse will be connected by thousands of experiences, designers will have to find a way to connect them all together. This requires great storytelling abilities. As attention to detail is a crucial factor in giving the best experience to the user, working as teams focusing on each component of the UX is crucial. Designers can no longer work in isolation during the brainstorming and designing process. They will need to think about the complete 360 experience for virtual reality design and how users will act at every stage of the journey.

Tools for designing Metaverse

A 3D character artist creating avatars will likely need to know Maya, 3D Max, Cinema 4D, Blender, and will probably need some experience with gaming, creator skins, & knowledge of Unity or Unreal.

The designers will be required to lean into the lessons they’ve learned from the digital age and to leverage the tools they’ve spent the past decade developing: research, collaboration, empathy, and user advocacy. Above all, they will need to be comfortable pushing back against decisions that harm players, and raising concerns publicly before those decisions come into effect — not just after the damage has been done.

 

References:

[1] https://www.investors.com/news/technology/metaverse-is-it-sci-fi-hype-or-the-next-big-thing/

[2] https://www.onething.design/ux-designing-for-the-metaverse/

[3] https://builtin.com/design-ux/virtual-world-design-ethics

Additional resources:

https://www.matthewball.vc/all/themetaverse

Points against Metaverse: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/25/no-one-knows-what-the-metaverse-is-and-thats-driving-all-the-hype.html