Digital Personas: The Alternate ‘You’ In the Metaverse

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People in nearly every corner of the internet are talking about the metaverse. With the announcement of the Facebook rebranding late last year, focusing more on the metaverse, the interest in the topic skyrocketed. Looking at Google Trends, the term worldwide was hovering around a 7 before quickly maxing out at 100, Google’s highest popularity rating. It has since maintained a steady interest, staying around 75.

The promises of the metaverse still seem surreal and lack clear grounding in reality. But one of the easiest ways to bring the discussion back to earth is to focus on the main driving component of the
metaverse—content creators.

Creators will act as one of the critical driving forces of the metaverse. Zuckerberg said, “At the end of the day, it is the creators and developers who are going to build the metaverse and make this real.” First, however, it’s essential to know what we mean when we say “content creators.”

There are two buckets you can group creators into generally. The first bucket is the brands that will be
creating experiences and content to engage with audiences in the metaverse. The second bucket, which is the discussion of the topic at hand, includes individual content creators. From streamers and influencers to VTubers and other creators, the metaverse offers an opportunity for them to not only create new content but do so with digital personas.

A digital persona is often defined as the digital representation of an individual’s personal information created by the user or gathered as part of the terms of using a platform. However, digital personas in the metaverse will open the door to greater immersion, better identity protection, and improved inclusivity.

Part of offering an immersive experience to others in the metaverse means overcoming the “imposter factor.” An imposter is a person who deceives others by pretending to be someone else. While that definition denotes malicious intent, for our purposes, it’s less about deceiving and more about convincing others you are the character you are playing—in other words, role-playing.

Many influencers, gamers, and other content creators create characters to engage with their audience. To immerse their audiences in the experience, especially in the metaverse, it’ll take this concept of role-playing to a new level. They can create a digital avatar and a synthetic voice that mirrors their likeness or even create something that dissociates them from the character entirely.

With synthetic avatar and voice creation capabilities, individual content creators can create a barrier between their entertainment profession and their personal life. On the one hand, it provides them a means to protect themselves and their family from the negative aspects of being a well-known creator. Yet, at the same time, it helps them engage more convincingly and deeply with their audience.

Taking identity protection from another angle, digital personas also create an opportunity for the metaverse to be more inclusive. Let’s face it. The internet is filled with many people. And when you look at the gaming world specifically, there are a lot of “trolls” out there looking to get a rise out of people. Although it shouldn’t be this way, synthetic media nevertheless provides an additional layer of protection to help people achieve one level greater distance with their identity online— and they still have ownership over both forms of identities.

An economy of different, interactive marketplaces

The potential for character creation will fuel new marketplaces. For example, one potential marketplace could be the buying, selling, or licensing digital personas. Content creators can generate potential revenue by working with brands who want to use a digital persona for advertisements, experiences, or co-opt it as a brand mascot.

While part of this marketplace would include exclusive or unique characters, synthetic media creators have a massive opportunity to offer purchasable avatars and synthetic voices. People can build a digital persona of their choice, much like microtransactions in video games for in-game skins, costumes, items, or profile-based trophies and taglines. In other words, the barrier to entry, from cost to identity protection, will be low for individuals who don’t have corporate budgets.

And the possibilities don’t stop there. NFTs and cryptocurrencies will inevitably be a crucial part of the
metaverse. For example, content creators can generate revenue by minting NFTs based on their characters or theme them around the content they offer.

Content creation across mediums will fuel the metaverse economy. In turn, we’ll see individuals discovering and creating whole new business lines and revenue-generating opportunities previously unthinkable. The same goes for brands, which we’ll cover in more detail in Part 2.



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