This isn’t a 101, a sales pitch, or a manifesto on why metaverses are ‘one of the worst things to ever happen to humankind’.

This is an exploration into how we can all play a part in building a better metaverse. One which is open and inclusive of all, empowering and approachable, liberating and safe. The metaverse* isn't here yet, but as we build towards it, now is the time to set our intentions for what we want to create. After all, this isn't just a technological step forward, it's a human one too.

*By metaverse, we mean the collection of digital realities which run parallel to the physical world. This can include - but is not limited to - technology such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and the blockchain. These are still in their infancy, and we anticipate that adoption will become much more widespread as they evolve.

Text message
Today 07:09
Hey! Here’s our research into what a better metaverse is and how we can make it happen.
Haven’t I heard all this before?
Not like this. We’ve gone beyond Silicon Valley ‘experts’. Everything you see here is direct from ordinary people currently dabbling in the metaverse - whether they know it or not.
Hmmm, why?
Because to create a properly inclusive metaverse, this has to be a conversation that everyone is a part of.
Ok. How can I get involved?
Drop us an email to have your say.
But, in the meantime, enjoy exploring how we can create a better metaverse together.

Better Metaverse is a collaboration between location based sneaker game Aglet and strategy and innovation consultancy, The Upside.

Our Approach
We conducted a quantitative survey with 1,570 Aglet players to better understand their views of the metaverse and its potential impact on their lives.
Narrative, quotes and conclusions
To complement this, we also ran qualitative focus groups with 8 selected players to dive deeper into their beliefs, barriers and motivations. Our survey findings are cited throughout this report and have driven the narrative, insights and conclusions that you see here today.

Inclusivity in
the Metaverse

There's plenty of hype about metaverses being equal playing fields, spaces for total freedom of expression where you can be exactly who you want, regardless of your physical reality.

In the real physical world we often have obstacles and limitations to our political rights. The metaverse is the place where I feel like I can express my feelings genuinely.
Female, 19-24, Russia

a new era of
digital inclusivity

Those who are involved in a metaverse contest that it’s for everyone, that it's super friendly, inclusive and bad behaviour gets kicked out. The harassment, bullying and hate that we’ve seen thrive in the darker pockets of web2 is apparently not tolerated.

People will get kicked out of groups if they don’t respect race, gender and sexuality. It won’t be tolerated because people are sick of it on web2.
Female, 29-33, Canada

However, you don’t have to look far to see that, for some, this is not the current reality.

↓ UP NEXT ↓ WOMEN IN THE METAVERSE

Women in the Metaverse

Metaverse worlds can provide new platforms for female entrepreneurship. With the hope of a more equal playing field, women can visualise opportunity for themselves.

Much like iterations of the web before it, the metaverse is still a man’s world.
Women are not set up to seize the opportunities that metaverses present. They are less excited and certain about how the metaverse will impact them, with many already feeling less welcome and involved in what some have coined a ‘white boys club'.

42% of our female respondents said they saw entrepreneurship as one of the main benefits of the metaverse, vs. only 30% of men

But, only 28% of women said they were excited about the potential impact of the metaverse

We have a duty to create a new space that dismantles the old patriarchal system.
It's time to construct venues for equal opportunity, creativity and entrepreneurship. But it won’t happen on autopilot. Brands should seek out women designers and developers when building new metaverse spaces and partner with women to launch, promote and create new experiences. In doing so, they can become active allies, bringing in those on the fringes that want to get involved.

Being an ally has to start with access. If only some people can enter the field, how can it be level?

↓ UP NEXT ↓ ACCESSING THE METAVERSE

Accessing
the Metaverse

For its advocates, metaverses are able to open up experiences that have never before been possible. They can unlock new levels of life that were previously only available to the privileged few.

I live in Nigeria - if Travis Scott had a concert in the real world, I wouldn't have been able to go
Male, 19-23, Nigeria
So whilst those with less disposable income can feel excited about the opportunity that metaverses can provide… they're confronted by several barriers to entry.
You can only access [a metaverse] if you have a way to. You have to have a tool to get in.
Trans female, 19-23, UK
So whilst those with less disposable income can feel excited about the opportunity that metaverses can provide… they're confronted by several barriers to entry.
Today, it can feel like there’s an ‘in’ club and the rest. Even for the technology savvy, the thought of a metaverse can be overwhelming. Where to begin? If we leave people behind, not only do we kill diversity – we also risk an increasingly polarised world, between those who ‘can’ and those who ‘cannot’.
Whilst brands today are focused on building their own mini metaverse experiences and experiments, focusing on the point of access has been largely missed. Instead, brands should be focusing on these big challenges for the future.

How do we bring everyone along and how do we create an accessible and available entry point?

↓ UP NEXT ↓ OUR 'ON LIFE' VISION

Our ‘on life’ vision

The promise of many metaverse experiences today is to transport us away from our physical realities. From our living rooms, we can climb mountains, do battle and make friends. But the possibilities don’t stop at gaming and virtual exploration…

Increasingly, the vision of the metaverse is one which extends to virtual reality.
As well as escapism, what if metaverses are able to better connect us to the physical world around us? A seamless layer on top of our daily life that enhanced our everyday experiences? We call this vision ‘on life’.
I’m really excited to see where physical and digital come together more than on the screen or in VR
Male, 29-33, US
Brands have a role in driving this on-life vision forward.
They can build worlds and activations where the virtual and physical become integrated experiences. They can enrich the interactions and activities of daily life.

The more we stop seeing the metaverse
as separate from the physical world,
the more impactful it will be.

↓ UP NEXT ↓ DISCUSSING DECENTRALISATION

Discussing
Decentralisation

Today, metaverses are decentralised. Pockets of experiences bubbling up seperately. With this comes great opportunity. Creators have never before had this level of agency and ownership over their output.

With the music, you can continuously make royalty off every deal. That’s huge for artists.
Female, 29-33, Canada

However, this level of decentralisation also
poses challenges.

In the metavese, you could really do anything you want. Nobody is there saying ‘you can’t do that’. That can turn very sour very quickly.
Trans female, 19-23, UK

But who’s in charge?
Who sets the rules?

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to finding the right balance here. But if you participate in or contribute to a metaverse world, you have a responsibility to create and uphold the values that will set the tone for the future. Brands can be the stewards of the communities that they build and inhabit: It’s on them to tackle bad behaviour and to take an active role in fostering the type of metaverse that truly represents its members.
If they make a governing body, it's not decentralised any more
male, 24-29, US
There’s no silver bullet when it comes to finding the right balance here. But if you participate in or contribute to a metaverse world, you have a responsibility to create and uphold the values that will set the tone for the future. Brands can be the stewards of the communities that they build and inhabit: It’s on them to tackle bad behaviour and to take an active role in fostering the type of metaverse that truly represents its members.

We all have a part to play in making the metaverse better. Taking responsibility has to start now.

A call to action

The future of the metaverse is still in the balance.
It's time to lean into some of the shining strengths of these spaces – its creativity, opportunity and entrepreneurship – but we also need to focus on creating experiences that are inclusive, open and have a meaningful impact on our daily lives. The most successful brands will be the ones that approach metaverses with a long-term vision and commitment which they are prepared to share with their communities.
It’s good when there’s a lot of open communication on what’s being built and how it’s being built
Male, 29-33, US

The moment for opportunism is over.

People are looking for authenticity and commitment. Instead of seeing the metaverse as 'other', outside of 'business as usual' and something for the cool kids in the innovation lab to have a play with, it needs to be fully integrated with your core offering. Brands who offer utility in the physical world, could offer equivalent value in the metaverse.

It's going to be about extending your services to [a metaverse]. How are you going to drink a bottle of coke in the metaverse?

Launching NFTs for different coke bottles over the years…you can only do that for so long.
Male, 29-33, US

And brands need
to make this commitment fast

What do you think will happen to brands that don’t participate in the metaverse? {Age breakdown}

[⅓] of players think that brands which don’t engage with the Metaverse will become irrelevant