The 8th International XR Metaverse Conference was held on June 28-30 at the University of Las Vegas. Experts from academia and industry discussed the opportunities and challenges of immersive technologies from different disciplinary perspectives. The Immersive Democracy project of the European Metaverse Research Network presented their research results and networked with the international community.

The 2023 International XR Metaverse Conference was a remarkable event that brought together leading experts, scholars, and enthusiasts from around the world to discuss and explore the future of XR (Extended Reality) and the Metaverse. With its diverse range of sessions, workshops, and presentations, the conference provided an insightful platform to understand and explore the potential impact of XR and the Metaverse on various industries and aspects of our lives. Presentations addressed the diverse applications of XR/Metaverse technologies in the fields of medicine, business, tourism, culture, and society, among others. Researchers from around the world presented their projects, demonstrating the diverse applications of XR and the Metaverse in different fields. 

The presentations of many young researchers showed that the importance of the Metaverse as a field of research is growing, and highlighted the cultural, structural, and technological challenges for the acceptance and adaptation of the diverse technologies. Topics ranged from sustainable travel behavior and communication in VR learning environments to the influence of value expectations and personal characteristics on avatar creation in the Metaverse.

Blair MacIntyre from JP Morgan Chase presented potentials of XR technologies in the financial sector, emphasizing opportunities for diversity, equity, and inclusion in breaking down various barriers. Alex Leavitt from Roblox spoke about safeguards in the Metaverse, including abuse, exploitation, well-being, control, civility, norms, and pro-social design, and how growing Metaverse platforms can address these issues. 

Murphy’s presentation on the role of the Metaverse in international climate law also stimulated discussion on energy consumption and the dangers of greenwashing by companies pushing the energy-intensive Metaverse. 

The importance of the gaming industry and gaming communities to the Metaverse was particularly evident in Las Vegas, where the conference was held at the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada. By juxtaposing virtual and physical gaming experiences, it became clear that immersive virtual experiences can complement, but not replace, activities in physical reality. 

Matthias Quent presented the Immersive Democracy Project and the challenges of immersive virtual technologies for democratic culture at the macro, meso and micro levels. He emphasized the importance of involving civil society in this development and of taking minimum democratic standards into account, for example, in online voting.

In discussions, it became clear that the question of how the Metaverse can be used for societal progress and how damage to democracy can be prevented is an important challenge for many actors.

The 2024 International XR Metaverse Conference was undoubtedly a great success, bringing together brilliant minds, cutting-edge research, and innovative ideas. As we look to the future, it is clear that XR and the Metaverse have immense potential to redefine industries, revolutionize experiences, and change the way we perceive and interact with the world around us. The conference served as a catalyst, paving the way for further exploration and collaboration in this exciting and rapidly evolving field.

Our thanks go to the conference organizers, especially Timothy Jung and M. Claudia tom Dieck of Manchester Metropolitan University, for such a diverse and interesting conference with many opportunities for networking and further collaboration.

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