ICC Metaverse Project
Vol.3 exonemo x Dominique CHEN Defining the Reality of the Virtual Space Interviewer:
exonemoċ½Ħominique CHEN
For the third study session, we invited exonemo (an art unit formed by SEMBO Kensuke and AKAIWA Yae, known for its unique style that mixes digital technology and the physical world) and Dominique CHEN, a specialist in information bionomy. The three guests reflected on their own experiences in Second Life, and discussed the prospects of the Metaverse. *

Firstly, CHEN explains that when looking at 3-D virtual spaces in general, the latest titles of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games and First Person Shooting Games are far more successful in creating the sense of physical actuality than Second Life -- this is because a specific goal exists in the case of games, which is to entertain the player. On the other hand, SEMBO points out that emulating the perspective and physical presence of the real world inside the information space is a method stepping backwards in terms of expression and experience. AKAIWA comments that users feel obligated to stick to the morality and manners of the real world because their avatars somewhat resemble their real selves. They discuss the necessity for creating "an experience unique to the Metaverse," and refer to the unpredictability of the natural environment as an interesting model to apply.

It is also mentioned that, Japan's own online services, such as the video sharing website "Nico Nico Douga" and the grand-scale anonymous Internet forum "2channel (ni-channeru)," can also be considered as alternative "spaces/places" (though not in 3-D) in contrast to the real world. As is the case in these services, it is crucial to allow the users to fill certain gaps with their own imagination. It is essential to design "imperfectness" and "inconvenience" beforehand, because perfecting realism is not enough to make the Metaverse appealing. In fact, it might be worth reconsidering the premises that gaining a huge audience of general users is a vital element for success, given that Second Life can still be very beneficial when used for specific purposes for specific members.

All three guests agree that the key factor is how to construct the middle ground between the virtual world and the real world, where elements from both sides merge naturally. To achieve this, the function of archiving log data, which is a key attribute of computer technology, could purposely be discarded. And an "alternative reality" bringing together the virtual world and the real world could be realized by meticulously designing "inconveniences" for the users such as transient data flow and oblivion.