From K-Pop to Catalonia: How the Metaverse Can Transform Local Culture on a Global Scale

Between environmental costs, COVID, and criticism from digital nomads hurting local economies, the world is questioning the magic of travel — and increasing screen time. While the meager form the Metaverse has taken on today can’t replace the exact smells, tastes, or luminescence that make discovering new corners of the world so exciting, it may soon drop local adventures from distant lands in our living rooms.

While the guided museum tours and online concerts we’ve all experienced during lockdowns were often glitchy and disappointing, the start of 2022 saw regional cultural initiatives from around the world flock to the Metaverse, a virtual reality world where people can interact and have experiences just like they do in the real world.

“One of the qualities that we have in virtual reality is embodiment, that feeling of being present in a different environment,” Louise Claassen, executive member of Henley Business School Africa, told Forbes. “Your body reacts to where your mind thinks you are. There are all kinds of very interesting opportunities that this convergence to the metaverse presents.

From learning the Catalan language to Bollywood performances, here are three prominent examples of cultural institutions developing projects that offer the kind of total digital immersion in their community’s art and heritage – experiences that were never so far accessible only by boat, train or plane.

Promote Catalan language and culture virtually

This autonomous region of Spain is famous for its relentless investment in preserving its language and traditions. Today, the Government of Catalonia and the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce are launching a virtual world to promote the Catalan language and its culture.

Spanish daily La Vanguardia reported on the launch of the Catalan metaverse, named “CatVers”, in January. CatVers is a digital space where avatars can go to art galleries, concerts, and even attend college classes. Everything happens exclusively in Catalan.

For the first two months, entry into this Catalan digital world will be free. But the organizers hope to soon be able to offer accessible prices, and they hope to eventually have their own currency within the Catalan metaverse.

Bollywood’s next big move is virtual

Seeking a new way to engage audiences and fans, India’s famed Bollywood industry is stepping into the metaverse, reports The economic period from India.

Pooja Entertainment, one of the country’s leading film companies, has paid $5,000 for a virtual plot of land in the metaverse. They then made the first-ever Indian movie announcement in the metaverse for BadenMiyan ChoteMiyanhis next film, which will be an immersive experience.

Meanwhile, actors such as Deepika Padukone and Kamal Haasan have created metaverse avatars, and cinematic art NFTs for upcoming Indian films from major production houses are set to drop.

South Korea hopes to become a Metaverse superpower

In January, the South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT announcement a $7.5 billion investment in the development of AI and its own metaverse. Culture is an integral part of the program, as the space will include a Korean language institute.

With the aim of becoming the fifth largest metaverse market in the world within five years – which seems plausible, given that they are currently home to the fourth largest video game market — the government clearly hopes to massively export Korean culture with the “K-metaverse”.

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Helen D. Jessen