Opportunities and challenges in the Metaverse

Closes:
Submissions open: 1st May 2022

The Metaverse generally refers to an interactive, immersive, and collaborative virtual world environment that is shared among the online crowds (Kim, 2021). With the development of advanced technologies, such as virtual reality (VR)/augmented reality (AR) devices, artificial intelligence, cloud computing techniques, blockchain and 5G/6G wireless communication networks, the Metaverse offers an infusion of physical, virtual, and augmented reality to afford socialization, play, and work. As real as the reality, Metaverse is characterized by a three-dimensional (3D) virtual world that allows social connection through avatars. An increasing proportion of our daily lives has become a mix of physical and virtual worlds (Hacker et al., 2020; Srivastava and Chandra, 2018; Zhang et al., 2020). However, different from traditional online interactive environments (Haines, 2021; Sjöblom et al., 2020; Thies et al., 2016), the Metaverse is creeping towards reality and affords the embodied interactions to break the blurring lines between real and virtual reality. 

The virtual world is gradually transforming from temporal immersion into a state of new normal. Second Life, as a popular three-dimensional(3D) virtual world (Chandra and Leenders, 2012), has been in service for decades. Artifacts could be designed and sold, and residents in Second Life can go to live concerts for social gatherings. Nowadays, a booming application of Metaverse lies in entertainment, including the famous Minecraft that affords amazing creations through sandbox construction and the popular Animal Crossing as an online self-built happy home paradise. Furthermore, the Metaverse can afford enterprises business by empowering a virtual space to engage customers and employees and has been advocated to be applied in the health management field (Chen and Zhang, 2022; Gorini et al., 2008). More recently, the social media giant Facebook has also claimed its grand ambitions to embrace the Metaverse for the next evolution of social connection. Furthermore, business sectors also actively embrace Metaverse. For instance, Microsoft Mesh enables geographically distributed team members discuss and collaborate in the shared mixed reality conferences. Walmart is also working to leap into Metaverse by creating its own cryptocurrency and collection of NFTs.  

Online interactions in the Metaverses are featured by immersive participation from mass crowds with diverse avatars. With the embodied avatars, individuals in the Metaverse can self-present themselves to engage in distributed collaboration, voice their self-recognitions, and socialize in different scenarios. The Metaverse thus unlocks new opportunities to connect buyers and sellers. Enabled by cryptocurrencies and NFTs, individuals in the Metaverse could purchase virtual goods and trade items anytime and anywhere. With blended real and magic experiences, individuals in the Metaverse could design more fancy creations combining reality and imagination. Furthermore, the realization of Metaverse requires joint effort from business model designers, software engineers and device providers. Therefore, Metaverse has brought about several opportunities. 

The Metaverse also challenges our traditional interaction and collaboration in many different ways. Due to the interconnected nature of the Metaverse, the challenge of personal privacy heightens (Di Pietro and Cresci, 2021). Hackers may easily stalk non-accessed devices to steal data and personal information. Likewise, individuals may have distrust issues regarding the deep usage of the Metaverse. Another challenge lies in the reputation and identity issues in Metaverse. Since facial features and voices can be imitated, identity authentication or verification is essentially important to eliminate potential problems with ethics. The challenges that the Metaverse brings out also include the inability of the platforms to engage users in an immersive virtual world. To form meaningful relationships, virtual world communities should thus afford visual fidelity with the ability to touch and feel. In addition, time and space perceptions might be different between real world and virtual environments, traditional business models and marketing tactics may lose effectiveness in the dynamic Metaverse (Kim, 2021). 

In responding to the challenges posed by the Metaverse, this special issue aims to call for attention to the latest trends of Metaverse and the opportunities and challenges of the Metaverse. This special issue invites contributions from a variety of conceptual and theoretical perspectives. We particularly welcome behavioral studies that address the challenges and opportunities the Metaverse presents, explore the new interaction and collaboration modes, provide multidisciplinary perspectives, and/or adopt mixed methods research approaches. 

 

Topics of Interest: 

Topics that are of interest to this special issue include, but are not limited to: 

  • Team management in distributed virtual world collaboration 
  • Engagement influencing factors in the Metaverse 
  • Artifact design for an immersive virtual world 
  • User behaviors in the virtual world 
  • Business model innovation in the Metaverse 
  • Avatar designs to afford immersive online experiences 
  • Online communication and collaboration issues in the virtual world 
  • Digital marketing strategies in the Metaverse 
  • Online interaction patterns in the Metaverse 
  • Deep learning applications for a better metaverse experience 
  • Social media analytics about the 3D virtual world 
  • Metaverse and decentralized (blockchain) infrastructures 
  • Digital payment systems in the Metaverse 
  • Reputation building in the Metaverse 
  • Negative impacts of the Metaverse on individuals, organizations, and society 
  • User misbehavior in the Metaverse 
  • Addiction and overuse/misuse of the Metaverse 
  • Technostress and IT anxiety in the Metaverse 
  • Trust and distrust in the Metaverse 
  • Value co-creation and co-destruction in the Metaverse 
  • Governance of data and algorithm of the Metaverse 
  • Digital divide and information inequalities amplified by the Metaverse 
  • Information security, privacy and ethical issues in the Metaverse 
  • Unexpected effects of blurring the boundaries between real and virtual reality 

 

Special issue Guest Co-Editors: 

Prof. Xusen Cheng 

School of Information, Renmin University of China 

Email: [email protected] 

 

Prof. Jian Mou (Corresponding editor) 

School of Business, Pusan National University 

Email: [email protected] 

 

Prof. Xiao-Liang Shen 

School of Information Management, Wuhan University 

Email: [email protected] 

 

Dr. Triparna de Vreede 

Muma College of Business, University of South Florida 

Email: [email protected]  

 

Prof. Rainer Alt 

Information Systems Institute, Leipzig University 

Email: [email protected] 

 

Important Dates 

  • Submission system open: 1 May 2022 

  • Submission due date:  31 August 2022 

  • First round review decision:  15 November 2022 

  • Revised submission due:  15 Jan 2023 

  • Second round review decision:  30 March 2023 

  • Revised submission due:  30 May 2023 

  • Final review decision:  30 June 2023 

 

 

Editorial Review Board 

Nugi Nkwe, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa 

Chen Yang, Shenzhen University, China 

LianLian Song, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, China 

Wendy Wang, Trident University, USA 

Liu Fan, Ocean University of China, China 

Minghao Huang, Pukyong National University, South Korea 

Yang-Jun Li, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR 

Zhaohua Deng, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China 

Yongqiang Sun, Wuhan University, China 

Yujie, Zhou, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong SAR 

Libo Liu, The University of Melbourne, Australia 

Xiang Gong, Xi'an Jiaotong University, China 

Jianshan Sun, Hefei University of Technology, China 

Jian Shen, Rider University, USA 

Alex Zarifis, University of Nicosia, Cyprus 

Shixuan Fu, Beijing International Studies University, China 

Zhenjiao Chen, University of International Business and Economics, China 

Imed Boughzala, Institute Mines-Telecom Business School, France 

Eric T.K. Lim, The University of New South Wales, Australia 

Matti Rossi, Aalto University, Finland 

Stefan Seidel, University of Liechtenstein, Liechtenstein 

Sofia Schöbel, University of Osnabrück, Germany 

 

References 

Chandra, Y., and Leenders, M. A. (2012), “User innovation and entrepreneurship in the virtual world: A study of Second Life residents”, Technovation, Vol. 32 No. 7-8, pp.464-476. 

Chen, D., and Zhang, R. (2022), “Exploring Research Trends of Emerging Technologies in Health Metaverse: A Bibliometric Analysis”,  available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3998068 (accessed 28 January 2022). 

Di Pietro, R., and Cresci, S. (2021), “Metaverse: Security and Privacy Issues”, The Third IEEE International Conference on Trust, Privacy and Security in Intelligent Systems, and Applications, December 13-15, 2021. 

Gorini, A., Gaggioli, A., and Riva, G. (2008), “A second life for eHealth: prospects for the use of 3-D virtual worlds in clinical psychology”, Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 10 No. 3, e21. 

Hacker, J., vom Brocke, J., Handali, J., Otto, M., and Schneider, J. (2020), “Virtually in this together–how web-conferencing systems enabled a new virtual togetherness during the COVID-19 crisis”, European Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 29 No.5, pp.563-584. 

Haines, R. (2021), “Activity awareness, social presence, and motivation in distributed virtual teams”, Information & Management, Vol. 58 No. 2, 103425. 

Kim, J. (2021), “Advertising in the Metaverse: Research Agenda”, Journal of Interactive Advertising, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 141-144. 

Sjöblom, M., Macey, J., and Hamari, J. (2020), “Digital athletics in analogue stadiums: Comparing gratifications for engagement between live attendance and online esports spectating”, Internet Research, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 713-735. 

Srivastava, S. C., and Chandra, S. (2018), “Social presence in virtual world collaboration: An uncertainty reduction perspective using a mixed methods approach”, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 42 No.3, pp. 779-804. 

Thies, F., Wessel, M., and Benlian, A. (2016), “Effects of social interaction dynamics on platforms”, Journal of Management Information Systems, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 843-873. 

Zhang, Y. G., Dang, M. Y., and Chen, H. (2020), “An explorative study on the virtual world: Investigating the avatar gender and avatar age differences in their social interactions for help-seeking”, Information Systems Frontiers, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 911-925.