Insights: Gaming, Gen Z and the metaverse

OCT 18, 2022

The ever-present ‘metaverse’ buzzword is, for older generations perhaps, still a relative figment of the imagination. But for Gen Z, it has long since become a way of life. Who exactly are the Gen Z – aka the ‘zoomers’. It’s the generation that succeeds the Millennials and precedes Generation Alpha. Basically, those born anywhere between the mid to late 1990s and the early 2010s.

It could be argued that Gen Z are the future leaders of a future world. According to a recent study entitled “The Metaverse: What Gaming Today Teaches Us About the Metaverse Tomorrow”, Gen Z gamers spend twice as much time hanging out with friends in the metaverse than they do in real life. Some even view time in the metaverse not as a way to unhook or detach, but as an actual part of their daily reality.

Gen Z already lives in the metaverse
This study, published by interactive agency Razor Fish in April, essentially sought to understand how Gen Z blends experiences across virtual and offline worlds. No doubt of course, for the purpose of identifying opportunities for brands to build meaningful interactions in this new and emerging space. Why might you ask? Well, at the risk of coming across as ‘Captain Obvious’, what we are seeing more of in the Marcomms industry is brands, businesses, and marketeers sitting up and taking serious notice of the metaverse, and all that web3 has to offer, because well frankly its advent is imminent – and for those in larger futuristic cities, it would appear inescapable.

Although for us Gen X’ers, or even Millennials, trying to wrap our brains around how this will all look, let alone work, may seem a tad mind-boggling. The precursor to the metaverse, and by extension the metaverse itself, is merely part of Gen Z’s DNA; so much so that the concept of earning money in this virtual universe is something they aspire to.

According to the data from the study, just over half of Gen Z gamers say they want to earn in the metaverse, while 33 per cent want to build an actual career there. Not surprising since most Gen Z gamers are already purchasing items in the metaverse, the same way they do in real life – which may seem hard to fathom but has been a reality for some time now.

Moving new humans
So for a generation growing up, or even coming of age, during or just after an unprecedented global pandemic, with subsequent lockdowns and restrictions the likes of which the world had never seen, the metaverse offers a world free of any limitations. For in this world there is freedom and certainly no pandemics.The metaverse, essentially a decentralised internet,is whatever we want it to be, and in it, users can be whoever they want to be.

With cities like Dubai making plans and executing policy to transform itself into a metaverse, NFT and blockchain hub, various industries have their work cut out for them – not least of whom: marcomms. The question is what can we learn from what is essentially this new world’s native population?

Because one of our industry’s main challenges in this space, is how to move “new humans?” Essentially the gaming world can teach us much, seeing as Gen Z already live there. We need to seriously consider learning from them, especially seeing as they are set to become an economic powerhouse within the next decade –they already boast a combined spending power of anywhere between $100 to $300 billion, depending on your sources.

On a personal note, as an advocate of human-to-human relations, I am torn, yet weirdly comforted to know that some of the game development firms, such as XEODesign, who are playing a huge part in the development of the metaverse, are somehow focused on keeping people at the centre of conversation.

Fouad Bou Mansour is the CEO at Impact BBDO