With the rapid shift to Web3 and The Metaverse, the ability to accurately express ourselves in virtual worlds is crucial. Although digital avatars and characters are not new technology in the gaming industry, their novelty in the broader digital world is important to keep an eye on. Currently, we are already witnessing the rise in digital avatars in different parts of the greater digital world.
From virtual influencers, such as Lil Miquela, NFT profile pictures, and AI driven customer service representatives and chatbots, digital avatars will eventually populate a large portion of our digital world. As such, many avatar companies such as Ready Player Me and Tafi are attempting to optimize and provide a dedicated hub for user-created avatars, either from scratch or through premade assets. Through our research, we’ve concluded that there are a number of requirements for digital avatars to truly populate our digital world. Let’s take a look at five necessary conditions that support the growth of avatar presence in our current and future digital world.
At its core, a digital avatar must be interoperable; we must be able to seamlessly transfer a personal avatar from one metaverse to another. Avatars are representations of our personal identities and freedom to express ourselves, so being able to embody ourselves as the same digital avatar across multiple platforms is paramount, especially when knowing that The Metaverse is inevitable. Changing an avatar’s appearance, whether through additional accessories or different clothing, should be mirrored instantly within other metaverses. There should not be any lag time nor the necessity to enter a centralized hub to formalize the change in appearance. Interoperability remains one of the most important features of The Metaverse as a whole.
2. Adjustable Resolution
It is not an unknown fact that metaverses are not made equal. Many platforms such as Roblox and The Sandbox feature low resolution worlds and characters as both a selling point to their game and as a method to better handle their user load of over millions of concurrent users. There are also high(er) resolution metaverses such as Second Life and Stageverse that provide more realistic worlds and avatars as a different appeal for their users. Thus, an interoperable avatar must not simply be strictly low or high resolution, as many games provide different resolutions as both a selling point and as a method to satisfy hardware constraints. Digital avatars must have an adjustable resolution in order to be transferable between the entire spectrum of metaverses.
3. Downloadable and Dynamic File Size
Expanding on the idea of adjustable resolution, file sizes for digital avatars should also be dynamic. Many users and game companies may have a need to physically hold the file containing their digital avatars, whether to integrate into one’s own metaverse or simply for personal storage. If file sizes are unable to be compressed and always require multiple gigabytes of storage, it can discourage users from partaking in avatar creation. Two examples of dynamic file sizes include Ready Player Me’s adjustable parameters and selectable features that affect file size, and Tafi’s automatic polygon decimation system. Additionally, avatar companies should grant their users access to their avatar files. A centralized platform that withholds all of its users’ digital identities would absolutely defeat the purpose of an autonomous, decentralized Metaverse. Thus, digital avatars must be both downloadable and have dynamic file sizes that allow for any user to obtain and store their own digital identity.
Although not a hard requirement for digital avatars, the notion behind tying one’s personal identity or avatar to an NFT registered on the Blockchain can provide a sense of security and individuality, as your avatar becomes solely your own. Additionally, NFT wearables purchased and equipped on one’s avatar should follow from one metaverse to another, further reinforcing the continuity of your personal identity and expression.
5. Procedurally Generated
Of course with the advent of AI generated art, speech, motion, and 3D models, the notion of digital avatars eventually being generated by AI is not completely inconceivable. In fact, within our research we’ve concluded that it is more than likely that AI generated avatars will eventually overtake crafted avatar companies, as the ability for one to write a simple text prompt and design their own avatar completely from scratch serves as a superior selling point. Some companies are already implementing this technology, as Stageverse now supports Stable Diffusion allowing users to type a text prompt to generate patterns for their clothing. Crafted avatar companies of course provide compelling features such as premade assets and a wealth of documentation and support, but it would be difficult for such companies to compete with the extensive freedom, decentralization, and customization of AI generated avatars.
What to Look Forward To
As The Metaverse appears more and more inevitable, whether it is corporate-created or procedurally generated by its users, the ability to express ourselves in the digital world becomes a more prevalent need. Avatars not only serve as digital embodiments of its users, but also provide anonymity, personal identity, and a sense of continuity within The Metaverse. Thus digital avatars, whether crafted or generated by AI, must retain a wealth of built-in features such as interoperability, NFTs, and adjustable resolutions and file sizes, that allow for a seamless experience for one’s digital identity.
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