Digital Twins
Applying the Metaverse Design Framework
March 4, 2022
· Written by
Jade Kwan

In the beginning of 2021, we shared our take on ‘What is the metaverse?

We shared the diverse contexts in which a metaverse could make sense: social interaction, gaming and entertainment, virtual, augmented and mixed realities, the future of the internet, and tokenized and gig economies. At the time, the term ‘metaverse’ received a single hit per day on Google Trends. It was a term not widely known or searched for.

Today in 2022, we can’t quite say the same. Thanks to a certain swap of the 👍 to ∞, anything metaverse-related caught the world in a frenzy.

We were being asked by the NYTimes how real the metaverse was? How long will it take for us to get there? Matthew Ball launched the Metaverse ETF with Roundhill Investments. The NFT creative community was on fire. The crossover of cinema and game engines allowed for new ways to interact with storylines. *ahem see the Matrix Awakens. Companies were keen to get involved! Even the Pantone Color of the Year (Very Peri) was said to illustrate the metaverse, a color to showcase a fusion of modern life and how color trends could transcend the digital into the physical and vice versa.

We recognize the landscape of varied metaverse experiences. And we challenge you to think beyond gaming and beyond one platform when thinking about the metaverse.

Duality's founder, Apurva Shah first taught “Designing the Metaverse” last spring at California College of the Arts (CCA), sharing a metaverse framework to better understand the conceptual foundation for Metaverse Design. This year, we took that framework and brought it into action!

We shared the following worksheet for students to better understand existing multidimensional experiences, and spark ideas as they were to create their own.

Download PDF here: Metaverse-Worksheet

We break down a metaverse experience by three main attributes and seven dimensions. 

1. Core Mechanics

What is the primary activity within the experience? e.g. game play, social interaction, events

2. Value Generation

How is value generated? e.g. player monetization, gig work, two-sided markets

3. Content Strategy

How is content generated and curated? e.g. proprietary, UGC, modding, etc.

Dimensions (each can be categorized as low, medium, high): 

1. Immersive

To what extent do users feel like they are immersed in the 3D experience? This can be achieved through high fidelity perception streams and well designed experience mechanics

2. Synchronous

What is the latency in the end-to-end interaction loop, especially when multiple users are present?

3. Persistent

To what extent do the Characters and the World retain and/or evolve their state implicitly over time? This can be during a session as well as between sessions.

4. Personalized

To what extent do the Characters and the World retain and/or evolve their state explicitly in response to user selection?

5. Twinning

To what extent do the avatars and digital twins match real world characters, systems and environments? — appearance, physics, behavior, etc.

6. Scalable 

How many Characters can join the same shared context at one time? How large can the metaverse world get in terms of size and variety?

7. Interoperable

Can Characters carry their avatar between metaverses? Can World assets and personalizations be exchanged between metaverses?

We show the comparison of a game metaverse, social metaverse, and a simulation metaverse.                               







We also introduce Don Norman’s 7 principles of interaction design with the framing of a multidimensional space. These 7 principles are key to ensuring a delightful product experience  and they very much translate into the digital realm. They are focused on understanding the role of the user and their objectives to help foster a more human-centric experience.

1. Discoverability 

Finding where to perform certain actions, i.e. Clear guidance before entering a scenario on what you can do

2. Feedback

The response to our actions, i.e. spatial audio feedback, having a visual cue once an action is complete

3. Conceptual Model

Explanation of how something works, i.e. In a gamified or cooperative experience, is it clear how to level up?   

4. Affordance

Perceived action of an object, i.e. door handle. 

5. Signifier

The labeling to share exactly where to perform an action, i.e. the PULL on a door handle. 
Note: Affordances and signifiers created in the virtual world should work the same way they do in the real world.

6. Mapping

Relationship between controls and effect they have 

7. Constraints

Aspects to the environment that can restrict the kind of interactions that can take place

Metaverse Framework in Action

Students in this year’s ‘Metaverse Design’ course chose an experience to analyze and decided on how each one fares within the different dimensions. As a class, we could see a trend of the current types of metaverse experiences they gravitated toward. 

From a presentation on No Man’s Sky Frontier, the core mechanics came down to four words: Explore, Fight, Trade, Survive.       

Presentation by Akhil Patel, No Man's Sky

But these just as well could describe two separate experiences, for example, Sky: Children of the Light and Fortnite.

Presentation by Emily Tseng, Sky: Children of the Light

For the non-game metaverse experiences, we have a deep dive of Meta Horizon and MultiBrush/TiltBrush. Both of these experiences help to visualize work, but the important question was, can you take your work outside the experience? Can you take your work between metaverses? 

Presentation by Yizhen Li, Meta: Horizon Workrooms
Presentation by Sojung Lee, Multibrush  

And similarly with VRchat, an open-source environment to create your own world and avatar with no clear objectives other than to explore and create, assets aren’t interchangeable with other metaverses. But the idea would be that most assets could be easily modified to fit other metaverses! 

Presentation by Yitong Yang, VRChat

We believe the future of the metaverse lies in interoperability, enabling the portability of experiences and assets across multiple environments. This may be the key to ensuring that the metaverse realizes it's full potential and value for users.

We want to thank the students of CCA Designing the Metaverse for all their insightful deep dives. And we encourage you to utilize our Metaverse Framework when doing your own comparative analysis and metaverse design exercises.