aragorn_meulendijks

Kongres Magazine talked to a true pioneer of the Metaverse, Aragorn Meulendijks. Determined to accomplish his mission of co-creating the future of how people interact with technology, Aragorn is known as an expert in the field, known as ItsMrMetaverse.

Q1: How would you define the Metaverse? Can our current technology enable it?

There are many complicated and expansive definitions of the Metaverse currently, but it is crucial to make it as simple as possible and relatable to consumers and brands. To do that, we need to try and find a definition that makes sense to people based on their real-world experience. At the same time, there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation surrounding the Metaverse, predominantly because companies are all trying to jump on the bandwagon of the Metaverse. In addition, this problem has become rooted because numerous people, especially within the blockchain/NFT space, have claimed the term metaverse without really understanding it themselves.

My definition, with this in mind, would be as follows: The Metaverse will be the result of the combination of a handful of technologies; blockchain, A.I., Mixed Reality (VR/AR), Spatial Computing (3D Engines) and Human Machine Interfacing (wearables); all reaching adolescence together and being combined in new and innovative ways. As it will be hard to predict which breakthroughs this will foster and how they will change our behaviour exactly, it is easier to look at it from a societal and consumer engagement perspective.

The Metaverse will change how humans consume, interact and transact. It will integrate our digital and physical lives more seamlessly and change how we interface with our digital lives from 2D and separate forms to 3D and integrated. These technologies, Photorealistic 3D experiences, and Digital Ownership will make our digital lives as real and as impactful as our physical lives whilst also removing the borders between them.

The pivotal thing to realise is that this development is already well underway, as Gen Z is a generation of Digital Natives, among whom more than 100 million children between 9 and 16 live full-fledged digital lives in such virtual universes as Roblox and Minecraft.

Q2: What are your thoughts on the development of metaverse events?

Any company that does start thinking about and experimenting with events boosted and enhanced by Metaverse technologies will ultimately lose any competitive advantage over the next decade. These developments go so fast that waiting to see what will happen is a death sentence. If you are not ahead, you are behind.

aragorn_meulendijks
Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

“These developments go so fast that waiting to see what will happen is a death sentence.”

Q3: How would you assess the market potential for metaverse events?

54 million gamers attended the Travis Scott concert in Fortnite. Abba Voyage is a worldwide phenomenon four years in the making; however, the technology to reproduce something like it has already progressed so far that doing it all over is a matter of months rather than years.

The World is waiting for an events agency that sets the new standard with true innovation. Metaverse events are not Virtual reality; they are not fully digital; they are an integration of several of the technologies I mentioned before in order to provide a more meaningful experience. However, I think that the focus should be on events with a younger audience, as it is clear that the older generations have a much harder time adopting. So the starting question is: what is my audience? And then, what value can I add through metaverse technologies?

Q4: What is the first question you receive regarding metaverse events, and what is your reply?

What is the Metaverse, and what is a Metaverse event? These are the first two questions I get. I answered the former above, and the answer to the latter is; any event that tries to push the boundaries by using these technologies to expand its boundaries in terms of interactivity, engagement and experience. The Metaverse is about interactivity and experience.

Q5: How close to reality are virtual venues with today’s virtual and augmented reality tools?

They are getting closer, but do not look at where we have set the bar today; consider where it will be two years or even five years from now and start building your concepts around that. The trick is not to do it perfectly today but to be prepared for what will come very rapidly. Photorealistic experiences are already possible, but the limitation is the ease of access.

aragorn_meulendijks
Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

“I think that the focus should be on events with a younger audience, as it is clear that the older generations have a much harder time adopting.”

Q6: What will be a pivotal part of monetising metaverse events?

Making access free and focussing exclusively on the quality of content to keep people engaged and involved and using modern Web3 mechanics for monetisation. In fact, I think events will need to integrate X-to-Earn mechanics, where visitors are actually paid to visit and engage and share their data with the event. That data will then be sold to the sponsors and brands paying for the event. Providing a much clearer ROI for sponsors and more transparency and accessibility for visitors.

Q7: How much interest have metaverse events sparked in the Netherlands? Can you name a good practice case?

Metaverse events are not limited to nations because there are no countries in the Metaverse. That is the first mistake people make. The Metaverse is a new world, so leave your old categories behind. The best example is the Metaverse Explorers group on LinkedIn. In addition, I want to highlight Weekly VR excursions and Pitchnights and roundtables on important topics.

aragorn_meulendijks
Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

“Hire Gen Z people in your company, content creators, and listen to them, even when it sounds nuts – they are the future.”

Q8: Which technologies will change event organisers’ lives in the upcoming years and decades?

AR, NFTs Web3 and AI (eventually Web3.0).

Q9: A company must establish a direct connection with its clients. Events enabled organisations to do so in the past. What is happening now?

The move towards the Metaverse will increase competition for attention further, but it will also put power back into the visitor’s hands. However, the connections made will be more intense and meaningful.

Q10: If we draw parallels with cryptocurrencies, more than half of event organisers are unfamiliar with the Metaverse. How would you explain its benefits briefly?

There are no benefits yet – there will be benefits in the future. That is an important thing to realise. Right now, there is cost, risk and challenge. But these are investments that will allow event companies to really capitalise on within the next decade. The alternative is losing big.

Q11: What is your advice for the next decade? What should be our focus?

Hire Gen Z people in your company, content creators, and learn to deal with their new ways of doing things. Listen to them, even when it sounds nuts – they are the future.


Follow Aragorn on his journey across the Metaverse here