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If you think of the metaverse as a mostly ephemeral concept, then you might not imagine what role physical movement and expression will play in its development. But as the panelists at the GamesBeat Summit session “Building the future of dance, expression and movement in games for the metaverse” pointed out, it may be more important than we think.
The panelists were Randy Eckhardt, music strategy and licensing consultant with Eckhardt Consulting, and Anthony Castoro, founder and executive chairman of HiDef Entertainment. To begin with, Castoro pointed out that physical movement can help transcend any language barriers in the metaverse.
“As we go on this journey, and we think about the products and things that we want to build, we really want to think about the things that unify us. Self-expression and human motion are perhaps the most fundamental form of communication that we have. It’s more universal than the spoken word,” said Castoro. “If we don’t speak the same language, we have a hard time communicating. But body language? We’re conditioned to see human motion and understand what we’re trying to convey.”
Eckhardt pointed out that several known metaverse platforms, such as Fortnite and Roblox, have changed opinions in the music industry about licensing to games. “When I was calling record labels in 1993 and saying, ‘We want music in our games,’ and they were like, ‘Wait, that’s not cool.’ But now, it’s kind of the opposite in a way. This is where kids want to go and hang out, do things, self-express, and find music.”
Castoro said that “figuring out” music in the metaverse is a priority for lots of companies: “What we’re seeing now is a lot of movement in the music industry to try to figure out how to let users interact with their content in a way that rewards the artist and the owners of the music rights in a commercially viable way, but is also viable for developers, publishers, and ultimately the end users. . . as that happens, it creates new opportunities for gameplay.”
They also agreed that the ultimate purpose of these innovations is to help users express themselves freely in the metaverse, as opposed to just following along to licensed music. “From an innovation standpoint, there’s things happening on the business model side, but also lots of room for innovation within the gameplay itself,” said Castoro. “How can we empower people to be able to express themselves through dance, as opposed to just copycat something in a workout-routine kind of way?”