Paul Robinson, Managing Director of Genius Brands International, examines how the Metaverse can offer tremendous potential for those working in the children’s content industry, but explains why a “dystopian” future with these virtual worlds is unlikely.
One of the highlights of my summer was being in the same room with friends and partners in the children’s business to exchange and discuss ideas face-to-face at the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield.
I’m sure your workday, like mine for the last two years, consisted of Zoom, Teams and Google Meets calls. We have learned how to use technology to continue to work highly effectively. In fact, in the global children’s business, it’s possible to be more collaborative in literally the world, even when making early-morning calls in your pajamas.
While I appreciate digital calling and tools like Slack and Miro, there are some things that are better done face-to-face. The age-old adage “breaking bread with the customer” isn’t such a cliché, although a beer with a business colleague probably gets the job done.
“If you ask a group of people in the media what the metaverse is, everyone will give you different answers”
So when I read stories online about the Metaverse being a recipe for creating a new generation unable to operate in the “real world” like Neal Stephenson’s novel for example snow crasha vision of a computer ruled world in the desert, the ultimate nightmare, I can hardly believe we are heading towards this dystopian future.
The reality is that people in the real world need human contact. kids are the same. They want to explore, learn and experience the world in ways that make sense to them, both online and in real life. Children see the world through an “imaginative lens,” and technology can enhance and expand that for them.
If you ask a group of people in the media what the metaverse is, each of them will give you different answers. That’s fine because it shouldn’t be a limiting technological box, but an opportunity to be a powerful force for good. And it’s our job to create a safe and fun Metaverse experience for kids that we want and deserve, by using technology as an enabler, not a driver.
I think we have a fantastic opportunity to create an experience that helps us connect as people to each other and to our planet through a unique medium of storytelling. The chance of catching a concert by a favorite artist in your kitchen or being in the middle of a major sporting event at field or track level is very high. These are events or places that you might otherwise never visit.
Also consider the therapeutic benefits for a patient who is recovering in the hospital and misses playing football. The Metaverse makes this a reality and reflects on the emotional benefits of such an experience to this patient’s recovery.
I said earlier that it’s up to us to decide what the metaverse is. At Genius Brands International, this philosophy is at the heart of how we think and design the Cartoon Channel! Kidaverse, which began phased rollouts as an SVOD service in North America earlier this year. Our goal is to create an exciting, special and unique place for children that stimulates their imagination, engages and entertains.
Kidaverse contains all the hit programs on the Cartoon Channel! such as Stan Lee’s Superhero, Kindergarten, Rainbow Rangers, Peppa Pig, PJ Masks, Minecraft, My Little Pony and Yu-Gi-Oh! and will be home to new, first-time and exclusive content, as well as original productions from Genius Brands like the upcoming one Shaq’s garagestarring Shaq O’Neal.
In addition to great content, the goal is to create a unique experience that kids don’t get anywhere else. So our Metaversal content is just that, designed to enrich our audiences in a completely safe environment, while providing them with an entertainment experience that cannot be found anywhere else.
In Kidaverse you will find kid hosts that are how-to guides, custom avatars, 3D content, gamified content, and in the pipeline are kid NFTs, messies (our own secure messaging), AR/VR content and Kidaverse branded VR glasses.
We think kids will have a wonderful time at Kidaverse, but we also know they want to get outside and kick a ball or ride a bike or go out to dinner with the family. I wish the Kidaverse had existed as a kid, but what I do know is that the “best of times,” whether a kid or an adult, is a balance between the real world and the digital world.
Paul Robinson is President of Genius Brands International’s Cartoon Channel! Worldwide.