How to make your career go metaversalNovember 2022
Do you fancy a job designing virtual dogs that accompany their ‘owners’ wherever they go in their digital lives, whether that’s playing Fortnite or going to a virtual concert? How about becoming a holoporting travel agent, or a metahuman doctor who diagnoses avatars? Maybe you want more power – how does the job title ‘Chief World Builder’ grab you?
It all might sound like something straight out of Inception but these are (or very soon could be) real jobs paying real money. Purported to be the next technology to transform our lives, the metaverse is where you could also transform your career.
Welcome to the metaverse, minion
The term metaverse (from the Greek ‘meta’, meaning beyond, and ‘universe’) first appeared in Neal Stephenson’s sci-fi novel 'Snow Crash' in 1992. It wasn’t until almost three decades later, in October 2021, that Facebook announced it was rebranding as Meta and the metaverse spilled from the fiction pages into the mainstream.
So what is the metaverse? Despite the hype, and all the money being poured into it, it is still largely in the concept phase. But essentially the metaverse is the next generation of the internet, a 3D space where the digital world mimics the real one via technologies such as AR, VR and AI. In these persistent, immersive worlds, users take the form of avatars and interact with other people – and with the content they create. And they buy and sell everything from digital art to virtual fashion and real estate, using digital currency.
It's predicted that by 2026, around 25% of the world’s population will spend at least one hour a day on the metaverse, and 30% of the organizations in the world will have products and services ready for metaverse. That’s why tech businesses are betting so hard on it. In February 2022, Facebook (sorry, Meta) CEO Mark Zuckerberg told shareholders the company was investing $10 billion and creating 10,000 highly skilled jobs in the EU to help shape the metaverse. And other tech and gaming giants such as Microsoft, Epic Games, Roblox, are already investing billions in their own metaverses. So it’s here to stay and if you’re not already working in it, it’s likely you soon will be.
What’s in the job description?
If you have a tech job in the metaverse, you’ll almost certainly be working with blockchain, 5G and Web3 technologies such as AR and AI, or developing new hardware such as sensors, headsets, cameras and wearables.
As well as the cool, creative jobs such as storyteller and virtual fashion designer, there will also be a need for lawyers and cyber-security specialists. And there will be almost endless opportunities in consumer engagement, content management, 3D commerce, extended reality and ecosystem development.
But to get started, here are five creative job titles that we think we’ll see more of on (virtual) business cards in the future:
1. World Builder
This sounds like one for the crazed megalomaniacs. In reality it’s similar to a game developer. But this job is not about coding or design. It is all about imagining.
The term worldbuilding originally referred to something that happened in sci-fi or fantasy novels, where the writer would create a whole fictional world, including its geography, history, backstory, language, customs, flora, fauna and architecture. And this is exactly what a World Builder in the metaverse does. Your job is to decide what the virtual world looks and feels like, how personas behave and what limitations they have, what the laws are, what’s right and wrong.
Without the constraints of physics or reality, World Builders are free to be as creative as they please. And, as the metaverse takes off and every brand, business and organisation seeks to create immersive ‘worlds’, this role will become more far-reaching, more complex and, potentially, more high-paying and in demand.
Hot property in the metaverse, storytellers are responsible for creating the narratives that drive the VR world. You’ll be coming up with storylines not only for games but for all kinds of immersive experiences including simulation, role-playing, training and branded content (an olive oil brand taking the user on a narrative adventure through an olive tree field in Italy, for example).
As well as coming up with new concepts for experiences, you’ll likely be tasked with working with developers and designers to bring your ideas to life, so it won’t hurt if you get some basic programming knowledge too.
3. Virtual Fashion Designer
Virtual fashion is already a thriving industry, with high-end brands such as Gucci dabbling in the metaverse, putting on exclusive events and digital clothing drops. As a virtual fashion designer, you could create NFTs for one of these luxury brands, or design your own range of skins for avatars to wear within games and apps.
Often designed by well-known artists, digital clothes and accessories are bought and sold using digital coins, and sometimes a virtual item fetches more than the real-life one. On Roblox, for example, a digital Gucci bag sold for more than it was worth in the real world.
Another beauty of virtual fashion design is that, without the limitations of the material world, you can create an entire fashion line in a week and your creations can be as ‘out there’ as your imagination allows.
4. Event Director
Metaverse events are already very much a thing. The first live happening was a Marshmello concert that took place in Fortnite’s Pleasant Park in 2019 and was witnessed by more than 10.5 million people. Since then, artists from Dua Lipa to Travis Scott have jumped on the metaverse bandwagon and there have been live fashion shows, sports tournaments, festivals and even weddings.
Add to that the potential for virtual theme parks, theatre, festivals and events that we haven’t even dreamt up yet and it’s no surprise that more entertainment companies are springing up to focus on event production in the VR and AR worlds. Event Directors are going to be very busy indeed.
5. 3D Modeller
3D modellers are already in high demand to create assets such as avatars, props, buildings and scenery for all kinds of creative projects, as well as 3D products for e-commerce. And, as the race to build the metaverse picks up speed, the ability to create 3D assets at scale will be key.
The technology and platforms are growing all the time, and more modellers will be needed to meet the demand for 3D content. If you’ve got a talent for 3D design, become an expert in the latest software such as Maya, Houdini and Lightwave, and you’ll be gold dust. If you have UX/UI design experience as well, you could have potential employers beating down your door.
As the metaverse evolves and grows, there will be jobs that don’t yet exist and that we can’t even imagine. What is clear is that the metaverse is well and truly upon us, and anyone who is paying attention and has the skills, or is willing to learn them, could cut themselves an exciting career path in this brave new digital world.
Illustration: Monika Sroga