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A New Word of Immersive Technologies - Participation experience (PX)

participation experience
By Anja Prosch
Anja Prosch

6 Min

March 9, 2023

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 took place not long ago. Millions of sports fans gathered to celebrate this event, watch the game, see their favorite players, make new friends, and simply feel a part of something bigger by sharing a common ambiance. 

In 2010 Marina Abramović performed The Artist is Present at the New York Museum of Modern Art. The idea behind the performance was for Marina to make eye contact with any interested visitor to the exhibition. The artist looked into the eyes of 1500 spectators for 736 hours and 30 minutes during the performance.  

When Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring premiered, the audience was unprepared for such avant-garde music at the time. And, while people crowded the stairwells and corridors at first, eager to catch a glimpse of the premiere, they eventually left the premiere hall after the concert had barely begun. Reports from witnesses indicated that the audience started to become disruptive during the introduction, and the hubbub reached its peak when the curtain rose to reveal the stamping dancers of the Augurs of Spring

What is common between these three cases? 

In all of these cases, the event participants had an absolutely unique experience that could only be experienced by being present with the action and other participants. 

In the first case, the participants in the sports games felt like they belonged to something bigger because they had something in common, namely their love for the team and enjoyment of the game. In the second case, participants in Abramovi's performance can have a one-of-a-kind live encounter with the artist. In the third case of Stravinsky's concert, the audience's common reaction became a part of the performance and merged with the ambiance. 

All of these situations create a participation experience (PX). In other words, it is an experience that is happening between 2 or more people who share the same event simultaneously. 

Evolution from UX to PX 

For a long time, User Experience (UX) was one of the main focuses during the development of the new product.  

We realized that the UI (User Interface or appearance of the product) was not enough to deliver full satisfaction. The product must be not only aesthetically appealing but also convenient in usage and accessible to everyone, so the pain points and barriers while using it would be reduced. 

UX design, on the other hand, was centered on the user, the unit. The unit could be a person from a different environment. The goal of UX was to provide that kind of experience so that all of the personas had a unified satisfying experience. 

However, we are now in an era when focusing on the unit is insufficient in many fields. We are social creatures, so we tend to live and experience situations together as a species. Referring to the examples above, the experience of a single sports fan would differ if he were alone in the stadium rather than with a group of people. 

Why it is important for the metaverse 

It is expected that the metaverse will exist in the form of a community. Community is essential in the metaverse, as it provides a foundation for users to collaborate, problem-solve, and create. It also creates a sense of belonging and allows users to interact with one another in meaningful ways. Communities can help strengthen the culture, value systems, and regulations of the metaverse, ensuring that it evolves in a safe and equitable manner. Moreover, it provides users with a platform to share ideas and experiences. Therefore, optimizing Participant Experience is a must in the metaverse. 

Participation in the metaverse is an important way to engage with and learn from other members of the online community. It helps build meaningful relationships and foster a sense of connection with other users, allowing for collaboration and learning. Through participation, users can gain perspectives, innovate, and create their own opportunities and content. Same as in the real world, participating in the metaverse can help spread important information and promote social good, as users can interact with and support others through the platform. 

participation experience

What does it mean to optimize PX in the metaverse? 

In the metaverse, providing participant experience is very similar to real life. Imagine organizing an event for 100 people and taking care of each guest, so they feel satisfied. Providing PX in the metaverse will be something similar, but optimized for hundreds of thousands of people, and the process must be automated. 

When optimizing PX, it is important to remember the UX rules. There is a need to create user-friendly experiences that are both intuitive and enjoyable. This means understanding the user's needs, motivations, and context; designing interfaces with consistent and logical navigation; ensuring content is properly organized and easily understandable; testing, monitoring, and continuously improving the experience; and taking a human-centric approach to design. The design should be responsive, accessible, and secure, as well as take into account usability, user feedback, the user's emotional response, and ethical considerations. 

To have a smooth PX, we need to have advanced technologies in place. This includes AR/VR, spatial audio, facial recognition, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, advanced mapping and navigation systems, 5G networks, and natural language processing. Additionally, secure, reliable, and high-speed internet connections are essential for a successful metaverse. To ensure a safe, secure, and immersive virtual experience, robust cybersecurity measures must also be in place. Finally, advanced rendering technology, such as photogrammetry and volumetric capture, is needed to make the metaverse look and feel more believable. With all these elements in place, users will be able to immerse themselves in a seamless and dynamic virtual world. 

Technology that will be used for the smooth PX requires special hardware, such as high-end gaming systems with a powerful CPU, GPU, and plenty of RAM, along with a reliable and fast Internet connection. Additionally, for a higher-end experience, a Virtual Reality headset such as the Oculus Rift may be necessary. 

On the software side, a good PX experience would require databases, middleware for users to connect and interact, a software development kit (SDK), or a game engine plugin that allows users to interact with the metaverse. Finally, high-quality 3D graphics, animation, and sound will be necessary to produce an immersive and believable experience. 

As we move into the future, technology will continue to evolve and develop, and with it, our understanding of these innovations can do to create meaningful and engaging participation experiences for people. By understanding how important PX is, we can create environments that are not only enjoyable for users but also beneficial for society as a whole.