The metaverse has its first homelessness, the visible embodiment of the invisible

The initiative was born from an association that helps people in precarious situations.

As McKinsey released a report on the economic opportunities of the metaverse on Wednesday, a fictional homeless man named Will has been venturing into one of his virtual worlds since late March. The goal is to question users of these platforms on the importance of links created in real life and on the exclusion that metaverse platforms could enforce.

The project was born from the collaboration of Entourage, an association for the protection of vulnerable and isolated people, and the communication agency TBWA \ Paris. The idea was to catch a screaming paradox in our society: “we have never been so connected and yet never so isolated behind our screens. A paradox that risks becoming even more accentuated with the development of the metaverse, this virtual and immersive world, considered the future version of the Internet, and its emergence in our lives.“Entourage notes in its press release.

A response to isolation in front of screens

There are nearly 300,000 homeless people in France today, but isolation is not limited to this figure. “VSHow many people have a single conversation or social interaction per month?says Frédéric Jacquard, Director of Customer Service and Marketing at TBWA. “I knew a homeless man who had his tent near a pharmacy that had free Wi-Fi. As a result, all day he was baffled by the games. For him it was like an escape from reality.

Will is therefore thevisible embodiment of the invisibleaccording to Jean-Marc Potdevin, co-founder of the Entourage association. The character is the spokesperson for the excluded, six million according to the Entourage association. Will was designed inside the street committee, made up of former homeless people. The latter were able to project what they had experienced: “will he not be beaten up there?one of them asked.

Will embodies them: it’s more than a publicity stunt, Will, we can bring him to life, invite him on TV! He is a citizen action figureemphasizes Jean-Marc Potdevin. In one of his speeches, Will denounced the absence of homelessness in political debates on the eve of the second round of presidential elections. “The greatest exclusion is everyone’s business“, According to the founder of Entourage.

An alarm in a merchant system

We tried to define what positive technology was at the beginning of Entourage»: These observations by Jean-Marc Potdevin are current as the general public discovers the abuse and violence in the metaverse. According to Frédéric Jacquard, there were 20,000 individuals a day in the Decentraland metaverse in March 2022. To date, there are about a hundred platforms claiming to come from the metaverse, most of which are in the experimental stage.

Will’s virtual clothes cost 15 euros, that’s the only shopping we’ve donesays the founder of Entourages. This expense is far from the pharaonic sums invested by other users of the Decentraland or The Sandbox platforms. “A man spent a real fortune to buy [une villa], only to become a celebrity’s virtual neighbor. There are many such examples … Like [un yacht que]one person paid $ 650,000“Said virtual homeless man Will in a video released on March 31, the end date of the winter break.

At a time when VivaTech, a European event dedicated to start-ups and new technologies, is being held, Will is fueling the debate on the metaverse, which is not singular but plural.

Leave a Comment