The metaverse has exploded in popularity over the last few years and funding has been pouring in from tech-focused and non-tech-focused industries, all wanting a piece of the exciting, new pie
It’s become so popular that investors have even begun to purchase their own virtual land with the prospect that metaversal land will become the next big purchase for consumers.
The influx of money into the metaverse from investors and crypto enthusiasts has sparked fears of a society becoming detached from reality. However, when you look below the surface, a highly engaged, convenient, digital landscape has the potential to increase accessibility to society. But before the metaverse can achieve its true potential, some fundamental issues need to be solved.
Below I’ll outline the accessibility that the metaverse will help create and what issues need to be addressed before this can happen.
The metaverse will open up society to those that have been left behind
With the metaverse, we can improve upon society, creating a space that breaks down borders and ignores accessibility barriers.
Thanks to an ongoing cost of living crisis creating financial pressure on consumers globally, travel is becoming less feasible – especially by car. Friends locally and globally now have fewer opportunities to meet up with each other but the metaverse will provide another way for people to socialise with one another. On top of this, removing the need for travel adds the extra benefit of giving people extra flexibility. Those with long working hours, dependents, and other responsibilities will now have more freedom over their spare time.
The metaverse will also create a more accessible society for those unable to leave their homes for various reasons. No longer will people have limits on their participation in society. The metaverse will open up a whole new world – allowing vast opportunities to meet new people, engage with hobbies and so much more.
The metaverse is experiencing its own accessibility issue
Of course, we are still in the early days of the development of the metaverse and the landscape needs more funds to help create the true vision. So while the metaverse will provide great accessibility features, we are currently facing accessibility issues with the metaverse itself.
A central cause of the aforementioned cost of living crisis is the soaring costs of electricity. In April, the UK price cap for energy bills was raised by £693 to match the supply cost. This has resulted in consumers being more cautious about their energy use, to ensure that bills are still affordable.
The rising cost of energy has a direct impact on accessibility to the metaverse. The more it costs to access, the less people will engage.
To combat the cost of electricity, ensuring the technology that fuels the metaverse is energy efficient is key. Metaverse developers need to keep this issue at the forefront of their minds.
There is a big technological barrier
Aside from the cost of electricity, there are other costs that come with using the metaverse, making it inaccessible to the masses.
Virtual reality (VR) headsets are required to experience the true immersive nature of the metaverse. These headsets are expensive and those that cannot afford one will not be able to access the full potential on offer. The metaverse without VR headsets is more aligned with the traditional gaming experience. To break down the barriers, VR headsets will need to be more affordable to ensure that no one is left behind.
Additionally, internet access is key for the metaverse. If we want to create an open society, internet access needs to be provided to the over one third of people that don’t currently have it.
The introduction of metaverse hubs could help greatly with these technological barriers. Functioning similarly to internet cafes and gaming spots, metaverse hubs would allow those without internet access, as well as those that cannot afford a VR headset, easy access to the metaverse – where they can access all the benefits.
It’s built for younger generations
Tying into the technology barrier, getting older generations to interact with new technology is a huge challenge. As of 2020, 95% of 45-54 year olds use a smartphone. While great, it’s been a long road to get to this point. 8 years prior, in 2012, this number was at 46%.
How will we get this demographic and older demographics to engage with the metaverse, which is without a doubt far more complex than using a smartphone?
A wide array of digital landscapes within your own home is a complex concept to wrap the brain around. For the metaverse to be widely adopted, there needs to be a range of education that slowly introduces older generations. As we are still in the early stages, making education a key focus point for the growth of the metaverse will help increase accessibility.
The metaverse is still very early in development and there is a huge opportunity to address the accessibility issues currently present. If developers focus on creating an accessible digital world and not the feared consumerist society, we could be on the horizon of a vibrant landscape that’s inclusive of everyone.
About the Author
Tristan Roozendaal is CEO at Centralex. Centralex.com is here to facilitate the bridge between CeFi and DeFi with the vision and mission to create a one-stop digital asset platform with greater usage of cryptocurrencies as an alternative form of payment by providing an online hybrid digital asset exchange. We are a globally registered and licensed company with affiliations with the finance industry. Our exchange platform is designed for both retail customers and professional traders.
Featured image: ©Framestock