Virtual reality and metaverse are mainly associated with men and gaming. White men are particularly leading the charge in today’s top gaming platforms such as Roblox, Sandbox, and Decentraland. Moreover, males outnumber females when it comes to owning non-fungible tokens (NFTs). According to one survey, 20% of US online male adults own at least one NFT. Meanwhile, only 7% of their female counterparts are NFT collectors. While women are involved in creating NFT art, they make up less than 16% of all NFT artists. Moreover, female artists generate only 5% of total NFT sales.
The Tide Is Shifting in Virtual Reality Entrepreneurship
A growing number of women entrepreneurs are breaking into the male-centric metaverse. They’re also promoting “metadiversity” in this sphere that remains vulnerable to the real-world realities of discrimination and harassment.
Some groups such as Women in Blockchain Talks and Curious Addys are guiding women toward crypto-literacy. Others like Women Rise are giving exposure to digital artwork exclusively created by women. But a few are trailblazers, developing solutions that people across age, gender, and racial groups can use.
Emma Ridderstad, the CEO of Sweden-based Warpin, is among the innovators in the third group. The company’s Xelevate platform develops training and learning products using virtual, augmented, and extended reality. These digital tools range in focus from confronting bullying to mastering work-related skills. School kids, recruitment officers, public and private sector employees, including designers and healthcare professionals, are among the users of Xelevate’s solutions.
Virtual Reality as Equalizer
Ridderstad, who media describe as the queen of metaverse in her native Sweden, believes that the metaverse “has the potential to be a real equalizer and a force for good.” And Warpin hopes to achieve just that through virtual reality modules that cut across age, gender, and race.
The firm’s focus on workforce development began when one company approached them for a staff training solution that could be deployed remotely. Xelevate was born as a result of this initial project and the realization that there was a dearth of this kind of technology for employers. Xelevate can tailor-fit virtual reality courses according to an organization’s training needs.
To date, the platform has helped provide customized virtual reality staff training courses for companies like postal service provider PostNord, Stockholm-based staffing firm Miljonbemanning, and home care provider Piteå Kommun.
European healthcare firm KRY also tapped Xelevate for its module on overcoming glossophobia (fear of public speaking). Meanwhile, Xelevate developed a VR tool for neuroscience researcher and psychologist Christina to aid her in teaching stress-relief exercises.
How Businesses Can Partner With Xelevate for HR Courses
In developing VR courses for brands and institutions, Ridderstad said that Warpin asks companies for their goals and their vision of how virtual reality can bring their employees or clients toward those goals. Clients then create a manuscript detailing what they want to achieve before Warpin’s team sits down with them to discuss its implementation, distribution, and post-deployment evaluation.
Warpin also helps companies select the headsets that can give them the best results and serve them the longest. The company may loan the necessary hardware in the initial training stages.
Onboarding and safety training modules currently make up the majority of Xelevate’s offerings. Employee-users experience faster comprehension and higher engagement compared to e-learning or traditional classroom training.
Ridderstad is optimistic these small projects give HR teams the chance to see what virtual reality is capable of. Businesses can then build on these modules to enhance the learning experience of their workforce. She adds that these tools aren’t meant to take away HR jobs. Instead, “it can give them more time and space to focus on more important tasks, letting technology take care of the rest.”
“VR is a complement to existing HR practices and processes. At Warpin, we are confident that incorporating VR is strengthening the people-focus of HR, rather than diminishing it,” she stressed.