Will, “the metaverse’s first homeless avatar”, raises awareness of precariousness – Liberation

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At the end of March, the Entourage association created a homeless character on the Decentraland platform, known as the virtual land of gold prices, with the aim of encouraging users to take real action. world than to invest in the virtual universe.

At Genesis Plaza, the surprise is likely to exceed the bid. In the middle of the colorful buildings, a man wearing a tight tecktonic pink dress throws a wave of greenbacks into the air as a humanoid bear walks around. Conversational pieces come out here and there, mostly in English. Amidst this tingling with dream -like accents, the calm tone of his voice – or rather the man that comprises him – almost makes us jump. His speech, too, surprises: “Hello, I am Will and I am the first homeless from the metaverse. ”

We discovered it from a computer in the modern area of ​​TBWA \ Paris, the agency that helped develop it. A brown jacket, so we guess it’s missing or even damaged. Will’s avatar is clever with the eccentric decoration of Decentraland’s central square, this metaverse of virtual real estate at gold prices. In November 2021, one of his lots sold for more than $ 2 million. At the end of March, the universe – accessible both via computer and via virtual reality headsets – even saw a “Metaverse Fashion Week” parade, bringing together luxury references such as Dolce & Gabbana, Dundas o Etro.

“Act first really”

By occupying this (virtual) bling-bling territory, Will hopes “cause electroshock” by meeting some of its 18,000 daily users. “As people spend more time on social media and others invest large amounts in the metaverse, my goal is to remind them of the importance of acting on the truth before the fight against isolation and inequality”, he summarized.

What he did was by referring his interlocutors to the association that envisioned it, Entourage. Founded in 2014, the latter created a mobile application to facilitate meetings between residents of a neighborhood and homeless people. “We have shown that it is possible to use technology in a positive way to create a more fraternal world”, lined up Jean-Marc Potdevin, president and co-founder of Entourage. This action is even more important since now, according to the Fondation de France, more than 7 million people are alone in France and 300,000, according to the Abbé Pierre Foundation, are homeless.

“I don’t accept cryptocurrency donations because you have to know that only 14% of the homeless are beggars. So the homeless and the beggar are two different things.”

Will, homeless in the metaverse of Decentraland

Two avatars chase each other behind him but Will continues, unafraid: “The people I’ve talked to so far are surprised when I explain the process to them.” He was officially born on the platform on March 31, a symbolic date because it marks the end of the winter break, during which there is no possible eviction of tenants. Since then, he has tried to interpret, with his interlocutors, a certain number of preconceived ideas. Like begging: “I don’t accept cryptocurrency donations because you have to know that only 14% of the homeless are beggars. So the homeless and the beggar are two different things.he reasoned.

What does he want to do in the future? Organize metaverse meetings and exchange sessions from Entourage social media accounts but also – and above all – challenge political decision -makers. “We are in the middle of the presidential campaign and the question of housing is a great forgetfulness», he breathed. To rectify the situation, he therefore did not hesitate to teleport to the Minecraft video game, to the LREM campaign headquarters. “Emmanuel Macron is trying to reach out to young people in the metaverse, but clearly not the 300,000 homeless who are deprived of real-life social relationships”he was angry on Twitter.

Arms of the body, he took the opportunity to make it clear that his current appearance was temporary. With a red hat and an extra sweater, the avatar, even if it is almost forty years old, should also look older. “Because the road makes you age faster”he pointed out.

Age, sex, dress, posture… All these issues related to the character’s body are discussed in the Entourage “street committee”, which unites people formerly or now homeless. Eric, one of them who has lived on the streets for ten years, insisted from the TBWA \ Paris area: “We need to make sure Will is a representative who doesn’t get into the trump cliché.” A more complicated task than has ever seemed, he determined, between those who have left their families or those who have lost their jobs, the facts will differ down the road. And profiles too.

“See the truth in the face”

Why isn’t Will a woman? Because they represent 38% of the homeless and less visible, the association responded. Why give him forty years? “Kay no age is on the way, Eric replied. So we chose the average age. Why do you call him Will? At this point, the avatar itself enlightens us: “We want an international name that is equivalent to the metaverse.”

A handsome haired man almost stabbed her when Will disappeared. Back in the day, the doors to the TBWA \ Paris premises opened and Sébastien Skrzypczak, artistic director of the campaign, joined us. In his first words, we understand him: Will’s voice is his and he’s the pilot of the avatar. Why don’t you choose someone who knows the streets to join the avatar? “We were offeredby Eric. But no committee member who has been there wants to add more.

After all, Will intends to invest in other metaverseas, such as Sandbox or Meta, currently not yet accessible in Europe. “We are the first in the metaverse and we intend to continue trying to bring people back to reality”, Eric’s hammer. NFT, digital fashion, villas in pixels … Faced with the rising virtual consumer society, he called out one last time: “Don’t put thousands in there. In fact, we need you. So look him in the face. ”

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