Over the third annual Metaverse Art Week in late August, Metamundo Studio, in partnership with Spatial, unveiled the Luis Fern Gallery. At the open-air virtual villa, attractions abounded — from digital art by Krista Kim to a meeting between The Fabricant and World of Women to a live concert by the VR Boyz. The activation, though, was additionally compelling for marking one of the first cross-metaverse collaborations: the gallery could be accessed in both Spatial and Decentraland, the host of Metaverse Art Week.
To Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, Metaverse Producer at Decentraland, the exhibition represented not just one of the highlights of the week, but how the virtual space could spark organic connections. The gallery, after all, had a spontaneous upshot. “The Spatial and Decentraland communities started visiting each other and streaming parties in real time in each other’s metaverses. We could see the Spatians on our screens and Spatians could see the Decentralanders on their screen,” she recalls. “Those communities were learning about each other and merging.”
For all the chatter about the metaverse’s market value, commercial potential, and land sales, it’s perhaps this social aspect — and in turn, the appeal to the consumer — that will unlock virtual growth. Participants are ultimately looking to participate in the metaverse, which is where Casimiro comes in. As a producer for Decentraland, her role may be “in construction,” in her words, but by and large, encompasses an understanding of what drives engagement in the metaverse. “It’s co-creation, it’s participation, it’s belonging — I think those are the things people are seeking in the metaverse,” she says.
It’s demand that should be fuel for thought for brands and organizations hoping to expand into the metaverse — that the virtual environment is less an outlet for their commercial interests than a field where authentic connections and communities can be built. Casimiro, following her work on Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week and Metaverse Art Week, shares more below on what it means to enter the metaverse.
How would you describe your role as a metaverse producer?
It’s a role that is still in construction. When you talk about producing events in the metaverse, it’s first of all supervising or helping the 3D and development teams that are going to set up that event. We are a hub, so when brands come to talk to me, it’s also my job to understand who is the right creator or 3D studio that can work with them. And I think the third part is really educating people and corporations about what is possible and what may not work [in the metaverse], while also provoking them to really think that maybe the default standard is not always the best. I think those three pillars are important in my job, and they may be for a while for any producer in the metaverse.
What have you observed about the growth in commercial interest in Decentraland?
Commercial interest in hosting events in Decentraland is increasing, of course. I’m in touch with a few interesting real estate developments from the physical world trying to be digital twins in Decentraland, so there are a lot of possible verticals that can come to the space. Even the food industry is doing a lot of events — Taco Bell is about to hold a wedding in the metaverse, which is such an abstract statement. I feel there is an increase because right now we’re still in a process. The metaverse is a great space for marketing, branding, experimentation, storytelling… and I think people are understanding that events in the metaverse are important because they create community and a bond [with consumers].
And what in your view are people looking for in the metaverse?
One of the things that I feel people want is to belong. We’ve never belonged in the process of creating a product or as part of a commercial campaign in the cycle of consuming. [But in the metaverse], people just don’t want to be told what to do or what to buy. It’s more like, oh, I will buy this purse because I was part of its creation or because my friend’s avatar is a model for it in the metaverse. I think this is the proximity we need and I think that’s what people look for.
What do brands and organizations need to know before embarking on a virtual activation?
The first one is that we’re talking about a global village. You have to have a wider strategy because you may not be able to target just a certain age group or a certain nationality. I also think brands should not always do the standard interventions. Because NFT is a thing, everybody’s trying to do NFT drops, or now that DAOs are the thing, everybody wants to be a DAO. They need to be needed, to exist and persist. Don’t do it for hype; being truthful to your identity as a brand is very important. Don’t try to become something else just because you want to enter the metaverse because then you’re forcing it. Transparency, honesty, and being truthful to yourself are the best ways to enter the metaverse.
To you, what makes a “successful” metaversal event?
It’s not just numbers. Numbers can mean a lot from a PR or marketing standpoint, but I think engagement is very important. How long people stay at an event is key. One million people staying at your event for three minutes means they just came in for the hype and left. But if you have 10,000 people staying for one or two hours, that means they replaced their Netflix time with the metaverse. That’s the quality time you want. Also, the resharing of activities on socials, when you see a lot of users meeting friends in the metaverse, taking photos and selfies of their avatars. Them sharing and talking about it is how an event resonates.
The collaboration with Spatial perhaps gave us a hint of this, but how is Decentraland approaching interoperability?
Interoperability is a challenge right now from a technical standpoint. We’re trying to work in the content level for now, not in the disciplinary level, to try to make events that could exist in different metaverses starting with Art Week. There may be things during the [upcoming Decentraland] music festival, and Fashion Week will be an excellent moment for us to experiment with that. We could have a show in one metaverse and then you come back to Decentraland to buy the wearable, so having a cross-metaverse agenda is a dream. Let’s hope we can make it happen.