On Thursday (The Metabite does not publish on Tuesdays or Thursdays) Fortnite publisher Epic Games and world-famous, plastic brick builder The LEGO Group announced that they would be entering into a long-term partnership to build a family friendly metaverse.
While Thursday’s announcement doesn’t contain much information about the two companies future plans, they place emphasis on creating a Metaverse that is safe for children. In a blog post back in March we highlighted BBC Reporter Jess Sherwood’s experience in VRChat and the clear issues around children being exposed to harmful content in the Metaverse.
Epic Games and The LEGO Group appear to be tackling this issue head on, making reference to Epic’s 2020 acquisition of SuperAwesome, a company that creates technology that enables “safe digital engagement for under-16s”, and three principles for safe and engaging play. The three principles being: “Protect children’s right to play by making safety and wellbeing a priority”, “Safeguard children’s privacy by putting their best interests first”, and “Empower children and adults with tools that give them control over their digital experience”.
Again, Thursday’s announcement was light on details, but here at The Metabite we like to speculate. So, what kind of experiences might a “L’epique” Metaverse provide? Lego’s 2021 Annual Report might provide some insight as to where they might be heading if they are to capitalise on best-selling Lego brands.
In the report’s 2021 Performance Snapshot, top themes are City, Technic, Creator Expert, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. So, what direction might the two companies take? The City theme is based on city life, with sub-themes in Train, Fire & Police, Life & Work, Great Vehicles, Space, Ocean, and Stuntz. Epic and Lego may choose a Minecraft-esque approach, where players create their own Lego cities, while enabling immersive, interactive, day-in-the-life experiences for children to explore potential future jobs. Perhaps as a member of an emergency service team, a doctor, or an astronaut? In our recent blog post on Bandai Namco’s announcement for a for a Gundam-themed metaverse, we discussed how Bandai might use its Gunpla plastic model trademark for Metaverse-based model building and online courses. Epic and Lego could chart a similar course for the Technic and Creator Expert themes, which are aimed at older children and adults.
Finally, and perhaps most exciting, are Lego’s Harry Potter and Star Wars themes. Here we might see some Fortnite-esque, immersive battle games, where players able to create and build magical creatures, or Star Wars-inspired space vehicles, and pit them against online adversaries. The question is “with so much to play with, where on earth do they start?”
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