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Virtual Reality Church as a New Mission Frontier in the Metaverse: Exploring Theological Controversies and Missional Potential of Virtual Reality Church

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  • Oxford Centre for Mission Studies

Abstract

The combination of COVID-19 and the Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought an unprecedented new normal, which has affected all aspects of human life, including religious activities. As a consequence, church mission and different ministries have found themselves more dependent on media. Furthermore, the convergent digital technology continually develops augmented reality and virtual reality, in which churches are planted and continue to carry out their mission and ministries. Although virtual reality churches are new mission frontiers in the digital age, there are several theological issues from the conventional perspective of church ministry and mission. This paper aims to address the controversial theological issues and reflect on them from an ecclesiological perspective to explore a theological possibility to overcome the issues and to justify their mission and ministries in virtual reality.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0265378820963155
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Virtual Reality Church as a New
Mission Frontier in the Metaverse:
Exploring Theological
Controversies and Missional
Potential of Virtual Reality Church
Guichun Jun
Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, Oxford, UK
Abstract
The combination of COVID-19 and the Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought an unprecedented new
normal, which has affected all aspects of human life, including religious activities. As a consequence, church
mission and different ministries have found themselves more dependent on media. Furthermore, the
convergent digital technology continually develops augmented reality and virtual reality, in which churches
are planted and continue to carry out their mission and ministries. Although virtual reality churches are new
mission frontiers in the digital age, there are several theological issues from the conventional perspective of
church ministry and mission. This paper aims to address the controversial theological issues and reflect on
them from an ecclesiological perspective to explore a theological possibility to overcome the issues and to
justify their mission and ministries in virtual reality.
Keywords
Church 4.0, Church and media, Mission for digital natives, Virtual reality church, Church’s mission in the
metaverse, Ecclesial nature of virtual reality church, Ecclesiastical practices of virtual reality church, Future
mission of the church in the digital age, Cybersociality and future church
Introduction: Church 4.0
Hans Küng (1976: 4) says, “Every age has its own image of the church, arising out of a particular
historical situation; in every age a particular view of the church is expressed by the church in prac-
tice, and given conceptual form by the theologians of the age.” He continues to say that the essence
of the real church is expressed in historical form and suggests two important principles to under-
stand the permanent features of the church expressed in a specific historical context: (1) The
essence and the form of the church cannot be separated, and (2) The essence and the form of the
church are not identical (Küng, 1976: 4–5). The first principle implies that the permanent elements
of the church have been expressed in various forms of the Church. It means that whenever we look
Corresponding author:
Guichun Jun, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, St. Philips and St. James Church, Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2
6HR, UK.
Email: gjun@ocms.ac.uk
963155TRN0010.1177/0265378820963155TransformationJun
research-article2020
Article
2 Transformation 00(0)
at the forms of the Church in various scopes of historical context, we can also find the essence of
the church reflected in its historical forms. The second principle implies that the constant concept
of the church has been expressed relevantly in the constantly changing circumstances so that it is
natural to understand the essence of the church in the variability of its historical forms.
The church was born in Jerusalem through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This was the
moment the church 1.0 was launched in its historical form with its identity as a community of
believers and its great mission to make disciples of Jesus through preaching the Gospel. The church
was growing in persecution by both Judaism and the Roman Empire. The era of the church 2.0
began when Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine
the Great. The church began to be institutionalized by clericalism emphasizing the ecclesiastical
authority during the medieval period. The religious reformation opened the era of the Church 3.0
within Western Christianity in the 16th century when Protestantism was born as a reaction to the
medieval Roman Catholicism. During each era, the church expressed the essential nature of it in
diverse forms and images based on their own ecclesiological understandings. Now, we are facing
new dawn of significant paradigm shift in both ecclesiological concept and its expression as we
enter into the period of the church 4.0 due to the combination of COVID-19 and the Fourth
Industrial Revolution (hereafter, FIR).
Church and Media
Media is the means of communication. The church and its mission history cannot be separated
from active utilization of the diverse types of media (Helland, 2000). The religious reformation
was accelerated by the invention of the printing press. Printing technology enabled the reformers
to print the Bible and theological books. Mass media such as radio, television, and movies have
been effectively used for evangelism. Needless to say, the Internet has brought a new dimension of
the Church’s mission from creating websites to using online platforms to run the church. This
could be through providing online services, small group meetings for prayer and bible study, and
creating useful Christian content in social networking and YouTube in this COVID 19 era. COVID
19 is not only a pestilence but also a game-changer, which has advanced the FIR in our daily lives
as a new normal. Evolutionists, such as Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge (1977) proposed
“the theory of punctuated equilibria” to reconsider the tempo and mode of evolution against gradu-
alism. They argued that evolution did not happen in a gradual and constant process, but in stressful
times when living creatures went through circumstances of high tension or pressure to change. The
theory indicates that there were inflection points in the history of life, which pressurized popula-
tions of living creatures to evolve. COVID-19 is obviously an inflection point that demands a para-
digm shift in all aspects of human life. Digital technology has helped most human activities as
possible to somewhat carry on since COVID-19 broke out. A new term “untact,” a combination of
the prefix “un” and the word “contact,” explains that humans do things without direct contacts with
other humans (Lee, 2020). The combination of social distancing measures due to COVID-19 and
high-speed Internet technology has ushered the possibility for a contact-free society in not only
business and economy but also social, cultural and religious life.
When the UK government announced a national lockdown in March 2020, many churches
regardless of their denominations introduced online services as a temporary solution. As the pan-
demic situation has been protracted, the Church’s acceptability and usability of Internet platforms
and social media for not only Sunday morning services but also various weekly meetings have
been spontaneously increased. The COVID-19 social distancing measures as a result of COVID-19
have forced churches to be closed physically. Literally, churches became empty without their con-
gregations in person. However, empty pews in the church of England have been replaced by
Jun 3
packed-out virtual congregations, according to The Economist (4 June 2020). A quarter of Britons
have attended an online religious service since lockdown began, providing a boost to a faith that
has seen dwindling church attendance (The Economist, 4 June 2020). This is another good example
that churches have adopted cutting-edge technology and taken advantage in their mission through
online platforms. However, there is a fundamental question at this point. Are churches going back
to their traditional forms in a post-COVID-19 era or will they continually developing digital min-
istries to become a new form in the new normal? Here is an answer predicted by Canon Mark
Collinson, who is the principal of the school of mission in the Diocese of Winchester: “Those who
have found God in digital church may want to keep God there rather than discover transforming
participation in the physical Body of Christ” (Collinson, 2020).
Emerging Churches in the Metaverse
Is it possible for people to find God in the digital world? This question is vital to rethink and
reshape the direction of the future mission of the church. The digital era started during the 1980s
(Calver and Calver, 2016: 11). Millennials (or Generation Y born between 1981 and 1996) and the
members of Generation Z (or Zoomers born between 1997 and 2012) are all native speakers of the
digital language of computers and the internet (Prensky, 2001). According to research conducted
by the University of Greenwich, the level of Internet usages of those between 10 and 29 years of
age in Korea is 99.9%, and between 30 and 39 years of age at 100% (Lee, 2020). The Internet of
Things developed in the era of the FIR has three distinctive features: hyperconnectivity, super-
intelligence, and hyperconvergence. The FIR aims to converge all the information technologies to
create a new world called “the metaverse,” which is the combination of the prefix ‘meta (beyond)’
and the word ‘universe’. Hence, the metaverse means “a shared virtual space beyond the universe,”
where the FIR and COVID-19 usher the digital natives in. These digital natives are familiar with
the metaphysical nature of life and immersed in it (Geraci, 2014: 3) not only to escape from the
stress and anxiety of the real world but also to enjoy the cybersociality that is a new form of social
interactions (Chandler and Munday, 2020).
Do the highly converged technologies developing hyper-reality where physical and virtual real-
ities are merged create crisis or opportunity in mission? The answer can be found in what Leonard
Sweet, a theologian and church minister, said to the contemporary Christians, “The future is not
something we enter. The future is something we create” (Hawkins and Clinton, 2015: 6). As I
argued that the church has actively accepted and utilized all kinds of media for its mission, it is a
time to seriously consider how it conducts its mission to be a continually faithful witness in the
shared metaverse. There are already churches being planted and operating within virtual reality.
These churches are not just entering the future but creating a future mission in the virtual world.
One example is VR church (vrchurch.org) whose basic belief and mission statement are same as
other traditional evangelical churches, but they try to be radically inclusive for all kinds of believ-
ers who prefer to meet and worship in the shared virtual reality, including atheists (French, 2018).
D. J. Soto, the leading pastor of the VR church, believes that VR technology provides a new avenue
for mission, and it is a radical paradigm shift from the conventional reality formed and developed
within the brick-and-mortar institution to the VR environment, which is not limited by geography
(Round, 2019). Soto claims that the VR church is more effective in making Christian faith real and
experienceable by creating virtual environments such as “Christmas World” where the participants
can visit Bethlehem and walk through the village and experience the area virtually firsthand
(Round, 2019). Unlike analog churches, VR churches are able to accommodate nonbelievers, even
atheists in their services, which creates opportunities for them to explore Christion faith by hearing
the Gospel and fellowshipping each other in small groups (French, 2018).
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Theological Controversies over the VR Church
Although it is obvious that the VR church is a missional frontier in the digital age, it needs to
develop its biblical and theological foundations not only to overcome theological controversies but
also to justify its mission and practical ministries. Here are three major theological controversies
of the VR church and brief theological reflections on them.
The Origin and Nature of the Metaverse
It is natural to ask whether the metaverse (VR) is within God’s universe. Based on the Judeo-
monotheistic worldview and traditional Christian theology, the sovereign God created the universe
and faithfully maintains it. All things were created by Jesus and nothing was created without Him
(John 1:3). All things visible and invisible were created through Jesus and for Him (Colossians
1:15-16). Therefore, it is right to say that VR is within the universe of God, who is a supernatural
and metaphysical being (Gatoto, 2020). It means that VR is also a domain where God reigns with
his sovereignty and power. However, it needs to be clearly stated that VR is a product of human
civilization rather than God’s direct creation. Man interacts with God’s creation to produce cultural
products in the history of civilization like the relationship between a tomato, which is an item of
God’s creation, and a pizza, which is an aspect of human culture (Sandlin, 2013: 21). Therefore,
VR is a reality within the space and time created by God, but human perceptions may be possessed
with the illusion when they are fully immersed due to the audiovisual stimuli (Schatzschneider
et al., 2016: 1378). It is not that humans teleport into a totally different space or time, but their
brains instantly adapt the head-mounted display environment while their physical bodies remain in
the real world (Murray and Sixsmith, 1999: 315). This is closely connected to a particular concern
of some theologians asserting that VR technology ultimately aims to fulfill disembodiment by
creating a virtual world to live without the physical body (Tilley, 1995: 120). It may be possible
that users may experience pseudo-disembodiment due to the illusion of their minds when they are
fully immersed in VR. However, the functionality and directionality of their avatars in forming
their virtual identities and participating in activities are controlled by the users’ cognitive percep-
tions and mental functions in their physical bodies (Ajana, 2005). Our psychological functions are
determined by and dependent on our physical body, even in VR. It means that the ontological
feature and functionality of VR do not support the classical Platonic dualism splitting body, which
is evil and soul, which is good (Rodin, 2000: 75). Therefore, it is not acceptable that VR church’s
worldview is close to the ancient heresy called Gnosticism (Bazin and Cottin, 2004: 50), claiming
that salvation means being transcendent beyond the physical and material, which are evil to the
spiritual (Casberg, 2016).
The aforementioned origin of VR leads us to two critical issues regarding its nature. First, people
like Margaret Wertheim (1999) claim that VR is a spiritual space like the biblical heaven where
humans are no longer bound by the natural laws of the physical world. The underlying philosophies
underpinning these thinkers’ viewpoint on the religious nature of VR are utopianism and transhuman-
ism. They believe that VR is a pearly gate leading human into a spiritual utopia through physical
transcendence. There is a VR platform called “Second Life,” which offers more than 30 religion
spaces for all the major religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity with
the ultimate aim to develop a spiritual utopia in VR (Khong, 2020). However, VR is neither an eternal
space where people can live their second lives nor a place where they can escape from their physical
death, although some commercial advertisements propose eternal life within VR (Botz-Bornstein,
2015: 53). Second, technology is neither good nor evil, nor is it neutral (Kranzberg, 1985: 50). Thus,
whether VR is good or evil will be dependent on how we cultivate this virtual environment with good
Jun 5
values for a constructive civilization, in particular for God’s mission. Unfortunately, gaming and
pornography are at the forefront of developing VR content at present (Snijders et al., 2020: 13). This
reveals both the significance and urgency of the cyber mission of the Church in VR.
Ecclesial Nature of VR Church
Douglas Estes (2009: 33), the author of the famous book SimChurch, raised a significant question:
“Is it legitimate to regard VR Church as an authentic expression of the church of Jesus Christ?” He
defines VR Church as “a community called by God to expand His kingdom and a regular meeting
of believers confessing Jesus as Lord in VR” (Estes, 2009: 37). He asserts that VR church is not a
figment in imagination or fiction but true people of God meeting in VR as local churches meet in
the physical reality (Estes, 2009: 37). In other words, VR church’s ecclesial nature as a community
of the people of God made alive by the Spirit of God interacting with them (Estes, 2009: 108). Like
other traditional churches, VR church can also be authentic and valid as it has the nature of univer-
sality by confessing the same beliefs yet has adaptability and flexibility to be relevant to and mis-
sional in the contemporary culture. What makes the church authentic is not its geographical location
or architecture, but the presence of God as His people worship Him in Truth and Spirit (John 4:21-
23). Since COVID-19 broke out and the UK government imposed various restrictions on the reli-
gious sector, local churches have not been able to meet physically at their worship premises but
meet through various Internet platforms. Recently, Rev. Nicky Gumbel of Holy Trinity Brompton,
the founder of the Alpha Course, explains, “the Holy Spirit can work through Zoom” (The
Economist, 4 June 2020). The presence of God and His works are not limited and restricted by
locations, space or time, even in VR (Blythe and Wolpert, 2004). God presents Himself through
His Spirit not only in the physical sacred buildings but also in the virtual world (Parry, 2014: 144).
This is in much the same vein as what John Calvin said about the Church in Institutes of the
Christian Religion: “This Kingdom (the church) is neither bounded by location in space nor cir-
cumscribed by any limits” (McNeill, 1960: 1381).
Ecclesiastical Practices of VR Church
Although the ecclesial nature is fairly persuasive, there are still several issues that VR church needs
to develop in practical theology such as conducting sacraments, sense of community, ecclesiastical
authority for discipline, authentic meaning of discipleship, etc. The two sacraments, Eucharist and
Baptism, are significant symbolic rites for the Church that have been practiced for two millenni-
ums. Regardless of denominationalism and preferrable liturgical theology, one thing in common is
that the sacraments have been conducted while both the conductor and participants are physically
present. However, in VR church, it is not humans, but their created avatars who participate in the
sacraments in VR church. Avatars receive bread and wine in the communion and are baptized on
behalf of physical humans who created them. This is problematic to the traditional liturgical theol-
ogy, especially to catholic theologians who believe transubstantiation claiming that bread and wine
are converted into the body and blood of Christ at the consecration. This particular issue raises a
question regarding religious ontology to understand the meanings of existence and presence
between humans and their avatars. In this matter, Estes (2009: 62–63) explains that avatars not
only represent their human users but also are symbolic evidence that the human users’ presence is
in VR church. He asserts that human users can be telepresent in VR church while their real exist-
ence is in the physical reality, as God concurrently presents Himself everywhere through His Spirit
(Estes, 2009: 120). In this case, there is a detachment between one’s existence and presence.
However, this phenomenon of detachment between one’s existence and presence can be observed
6 Transformation 00(0)
and experienced in the physical church contexts. One example is that people often think of various
things so that their minds are traveling to various places while their physical presence is in the
church building on Sundays. The other example is that people can present themselves via online
worship services, although they are physically on the other side of the globe.
The second ecclesiastical issue of VR church is that there may be no true sense of community
in several aspects. People may watch online service in VR and believe that they are part of the
church (Brown, 2019). According to research, factors to foster a sense of belonging in higher edu-
cation within virtual worlds are immediacy, interactivity and group cohesiveness (Wankel and
Blessinger, 2012: 5). These findings are not much different from the factors for increasing a sense
of belonging in virtual church contexts. These factors require more than attendance or participa-
tion, which may increase the level of religious consumerism for just spiritual satisfaction through
acquisition of what they desire. The factors require a high level of commitment to and involvement
in the vision and mission of the church in VR. In this contemporary postmodern society, it is hard
to see believers fully committed to the vision and mission of their local churches because hyperin-
dividualistic lifestyles have become a cultural norm, and this seriously weakens the sense of com-
munity in the local churches. Thus, it is not an overstatement to say that VR churches would face
more serious problems caused by an atomistic sense of self-connected with an excessive form of
individualism pursuing self-indulgence (Randels Jr., 2000: 167). Another aspect to theologically
wrestle regarding the sense of community within VR church is how does the avatar-mediated vir-
tual church community can build credibility and trust among the members? Research reveals that
perceived anthropomorphic images of avatars in VR influences the level of credibility and trust in
people’s virtual relationships without having a clue about others’ physical attributes and identity
(Nowak et al., 2008: 83). One can wear an avatar of any gender, age, race, species, or shape, and
meets others superficially with their created form of self-presentation (Blascovich and Bailenson,
2011: 5). It is likely that people are better able to predict the trustworthiness of humans than the
trustworthiness of avatars, for the majority of interaction among people has taken place in face-to-
face settings throughout human history (Riedl et al., 2014: 83). However, there may be a theologi-
cal clue in the origin of the word “avatar” and its contextual theologizing to know whether it is
possible for people to build trustworthy relationships through their avatars in VR. The word “ava-
tar” is derived from a Sanskrit word ava-tri, which means “descent” (Hess, 2016). Ava-tri (avatar)
is used in religious contexts to describe “divine descent” (Kuruvila, 2002: 54). Interestingly, Indian
Christians used the concept of the avatar to understand the incarnation of Christ for generations
(Boyd, 1975: 127–128). The biblical truth that Christ gave up His equality with God and became a
man and lived among His people can give a glimmer of theological hope for the possibility that
people may be able to build a trustworthy Christian community in VR through their embodied
avatars. The Son of God, a spiritual being, became the Son of Man, a physical being. Jesus was a
fully divine being and a fully human being. In other words, incarnation expresses a dialectical
relationship between Man who needs God and God who needs Man (Schade, 2017). The relation-
ship between a user made of material atoms and his or her avatar made of code and pixels could be
viewed from the same perspective. Research reveals that users regard their avatars as shared agen-
cies through emotional intimacy while they practice self-differentiation in their relationships with
their avatars (Banks, 2015). It means that the user–avatar relationship (UAR) is not always one-
way that an avatar represents its user as a created and controlled being but dialectical as they share
experiences, moral decisions, and responsibilities of their behaviors (Banks, 2015).
Finally, there is no ecclesiastical authority in VR church to deal with the sins of individuals and
discipline to censure and restore them from their sins. Church discipline is one of the primary bibli-
cal practices that God is honored when it is rightly administered and dishonored by its absence
(Adams, 1974: 19). Some theologians deliberately include church discipline as one of the
Jun 7
non-negotiable elements along with the preaching of the word and the sacraments, without which
the church cannot be the church (McAlpine, 2011: 6). The final ecclesiastical issue in light of sense
of community is that VR church lacks the corporate aspects of discipleship. The church is not only
a place of worshippers but also a community of disciples. Christ is present not only in the encounter
of word and faith in the life of the individual believer but especially in the living memory of the
church (Lorenzen, 2004: 49) where believers grow steadily to learn how to live the way that Jesus
lived from the exemplary lifestyle of mature disciples (Kim, 2020: 14). This kind of radical meaning
of Christian discipleship seems to be only possible through physical interactions among believers in
the physical reality. This is a particular challenge that VR church needs to overcome as some of VR
churchgoers are already describing themselves as “bedside Baptists” and “pillow Presbyterians”
since their spiritual journey with Christ in VR may be at a slack pace (Brown, 2019).
Conclusion: An Unprecedented Style of Church in the New Normal
We are living in a rapidly changing world, facing challenges and opportunities at the same time in
God’s mission. COVID-19 and the FIR have brought a new dimension of futuristic lifestyle in VR.
Seabrook (1995: 66–68) says that a private home in the real world uses walls to keep the world out,
whereas a homepage on the web drills a hole in those walls to let the world in. The highly conver-
gent media and communication technology are taking digital natives into a status that they do not
much care if an experience is real or virtual, and many of them will prefer the digital aspects of
their lives to physical ones (Blascovich and Bailenson, 2011: 3). In this challenging time, we need
a paradigm shift in our ecclesiological perspective if we want to turn it into opportunities. According
to Geraci, there are two religious possibilities opened to virtual worlds: (1) “they provide new
places to practice old religions”; and (2) “they provide new locations for the creation of meaningful
lives without recourse to traditional religious communities” (pp. 11–12). If VR church maintains
the essence of the church while it takes a brand new form to be continually expressed as an authen-
tic part of God’s community based on the concept of Hans Küng’s ecclesiology, it is clear that it
needs to take the first possibility. It is absolutely necessary that VR churches need to collaborate
with the traditional churches to develop their theological foundations as well as to overcome min-
isterial limitations and challenges (Kim, 172–173). Furthermore, it is urgently requested that the
traditional churches need to plan more sound VR churches as there are already spurious churches
in VR. If masons, architects and artists were needed to build physical spaces for worship in the
past, we need coders and futurists to build this unprecedented style of church in the metaverse
(Estes, 2009). As Christ was incarnated as flesh for God’s mission, so the traditional churches need
to incarnate into VR for the same purpose and reason. VR is a vast mission field, as 97% of users
are non-Christians (Kim, 2013: 162). Until its 3.0 version, the Church has emphasized “Belief first,
then understanding.” St Augustine (354–430) advised “Believe in order to understand” (crede ut
intelligas), and Anselm (1033–1109) similarly stated: “Unless I believe, I shall not understand”
(Plummer, 2013: 36). This ancient thought continued until the medieval period faced a powerful
challenge of Enlightenment that separated human reason from religion. Since then, “science and
religion” and “reason and revelation” have been divorced (Adamson, 2019) so that there is a ten-
dency to regard science and technology secular. In this age of digital revolution, it is necessary that
“science and religion” and “reason and faith” need to be reconciled to effectively undertake God’s
mission as the church enters into its 4.0 version.
Funding
The author received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
8 Transformation 00(0)
ORCID iD
Guichun Jun https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6233-1743
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Author biography
Guichun Jun completed his doctoral study at Oxford Centre for Mission Studies and became a research tutor
in 2016. His research interests are in the area of Congregational Studies, in particular, in church conflict and
futuristic church ministry in the era of the fourth industrial revolution from the perspective of multi-academic
disciplines.
... The term "Avatar" is derived from "Ava-tri," which means descent in Sanskrit. 63 The word "ava-tri" in the religious context means divine descent, and Indian Christians have used ava-tri to understand the concept of the incarnation of Christ. 64 However, there is a fundamental discrepancy between avatar in the Indian religious context, in particular in Hinduism, and the incarnation of Jesus in Christianity. ...
Chapter
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The chapter discusses the philosophical challenges associated with transhumanism and metamodernism, which underlie the phenomena of the metaverse and possible missional responses through the metanarratives in the Bible.
... Les usages potentiels sont pratiquement infinis, mais il est déjà possible de citer ceux déjà identifiés ou supposés (Papagiannidis, Bourlakis & Li, 2008 ;Romero, Viana & Angel, 2016 ;Jun, 2020 ;Gökçe Narin, 2021 ;Heo & Kim, 2021). Ce sont ainsi plus d'une douzaine de grandes familles d'usages qui sont déjà l'objet de cas concrets ou d'articles académiques : jeu vidéo, commerce, productivité, finance, création artistique, réseau social, tourisme, rencontres, sport, éducation, coaching, domotique, religion… ...
Conference Paper
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Fantasmés par la science-fiction depuis des décennies, prototypés avec un certain succès au début des années 2000, ces mondes virtuels semblent désormais prêts pour une infinité d'usages. Mais quels sont ces usages ? Quelles sont les vraies différences avec les métavers tels que Second Life ou Minecraft ? Et surtout, pourquoi maintenant, avec tous ces métiers et toutes ces offres d'emplois qui débarquent ?
... Les usages potentiels sont pratiquement infinis, mais il est déjà possible de citer ceux déjà identifiés ou supposés (Papagiannidis, Bourlakis et Li, 2008 ;Romero et Moleón Viana, 2016 ;Jun, 2020 ;Gökçe Narin, 2021 ;Heo et Kim, 2021 Lorsque l'on entend dire que le métavers est en pleine construction, ce n'est pas une manière de parler, tant il reste des technologies à perfectionner pour permettre un métavers fiable et convaincant. Au-delà des technologies, il sera nécessaire d'établir des règles et principes éthiques pour assurer une sécurité matérielle, physique et psychologique des utilisateurs et de leurs biens. ...
Book
Un ouvrage visant à décrypter les codes du métavers et du web 3.0, ainsi que leurs applications potentielles pour les organisations, et plus particulièrement les Ressources Humaines. Un volet est spécifiquement dédié au cadre éthique nécessaire pour faire émerger des usages souhaitables, sur les volet environnemental, social et économique. L'objectif de l'ouvrage est d'identifier des pistes crédibles d'évolution des modalités du travail et de la collaboration dans les organisations.
... COVID-19 has accelerated the uptake of digitisation by THE industries (Fontanari and Traskevich, 2022). This is demonstrated, for example, by the emergence of such novel product/service offerings as ghost kitchens (Cai et al., 2022), virtual museums (Gutowski and Kłos-Adamkiewicz, 2020), virtual reality churches (Jun 2020) and virtual wine tasting tours (Wen and Leung, 2021). ...
Article
Purpose Virtual spaces, commonly referred to as the Metaverse, are predicted to disrupt consumption patterns in tourism, hospitality and events (THE) by shifting some user experiences to a virtual world. Scholarly investigations are necessitated to aid in an understanding of virtual spaces and the implications of their consumption for THE industries. This viewpoint outlines a provisional research agenda on virtual spaces. Design/methodology/approach To inform its arguments, this viewpoint draws upon academic and grey literature surrounding the emerging topic of the Metaverse in THE industries. Findings The research agenda should consider four perspectives representing different actors of THE value chain, i.e. developers/suppliers, THE business professionals, customers and policymakers. The research agenda should also incorporate the wider spillover effects of consumption of virtual spaces which may stretch well beyond THE industries. Originality/value This viewpoint outlines some research directions which may aid different actors of THE value chain alongside academics in better understanding the emerging phenomenon of virtual spaces and comprehend the opportunities and challenges associated with their uptake by THE industries.
... Nonhomogeneous tokens (NFT), as a typical representative, are widely used in the blockchain field [2], which can be represented as a unique identifier for digital artworks as commodity entries, that is, digital authentication of artistic goods such as music, videos, and pictures [3]. Blockchain technology led by NFT can achieve traceability, tamper-evident, and distributed storage based on which a blockchain digital model can be established for copyright management and maintenance with NFT technology [4]. ...
Article
Full-text available
As the metaverse is hot, nonhomogenized tokens (NFT) as digital artwork identifiers present different characteristics and application values from other homogenized tokens, and their use for copyright verification will suffer from the problems of storage space limitation and data verification reliance on database, this study designs an NFT digital copyright authentication model for textual works. To cater for the uncontrollability of conventional Hash algorithms in stream matching due to the high conflict rate, a new random matrix theory is applied to propose a new Hash algorithm, which is used on the block structure of NFT credential authentication, while extending the block structure so that the data within the work is completely stored in the blockchain with NFT as the credential, allowing the database to store the work data in a relatively safe manner. The verification of the work data has the immutability and unique cryptographic solution of NFT. The NFT-based digital model collects TR information and conducts 30 tests, and the average test time for generating blocks is 0.53 s. Through the block query for detection, 248,655 words have exceeded the number of words of an article, and the consumption time is only 0.23s, to meet the customer's real-time query requirements for the system. According to the overhead ratio, the record storage expenditure is about 2-3 times of the text storage expenditure, the work storage expenditure, and the storage expenditure for storing 240,000 words for authentication is about 3720 KB.
... An important experience in the literature is the virtual services that have been rising due to the present pandemic such as virtual museum visits [54] and virtual tourism [55]. Moreover, it was reported that religious activities impact the metaverse [56]. Education is one of the global activities with more changes in the development of applicability of metaverse-based platforms, incorporating a vast range of devices, utilities, and systems to generate a better and more significant student experience [57,58]. ...
Article
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The current study aims to validate and apply an instrument to assess the relationship between institutional support, technological literacy, and self-efficacy on the intention to participate in the Facebook Metaverse using social cognitive theory. We performed a cross-sectional, analytical study of 410 citizens in Peru to assess the influence of institutional support, technological literacy, and self-efficacy on the intention to participate in the Facebook Metaverse during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research model was validated using partial least square structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) to establish the influence of variables on the model. Institutional support and technological literacy were found to influence the self-efficacy of participating in the metaverse positively by correlations of 0.573 and 0.257, respectively. Self-efficacy of participating positively influenced the intention to participate in the Facebook Metaverse by 0.808. The model explained 65.4% of the intention to participate in the Facebook Metaverse. Bootstrapping demonstrated that the path coefficients of the research model were statistically significant. The research outcomes may help firms to develop planning and investment in the metaverse, as well as understanding the factors that influence a higher intention to participate in the Facebook Metaverse.
Article
This article focuses on the phenomenon in which fashion functions as play in digital media. It delves deeper than fashion’s functional purposes of decoration or physical protection and examines its emergence as an independent tool for creating play culture. This article discusses the four characteristics of play in the context of the digital space—free activity, departure from space–time, pretending, and order—then applies each characteristic based on the marketing strategies of fashion brands and social media culture. These representative topics include the pretending multi-persona, a fashion meme based on social media, voluntary play in a brand platform, and sensory expansion and departure from space–time through brand experience. This article highlights contemporary fashion as a tool for play that also functions to satisfy one’s high-order desires, such as self-expression, with digitalized clothing, having fun and getting extended sensation with a brand in any time or space, and adding a layer of emotion through social interaction in digital space. This suggests that fashion, in itself an aesthetic object in everyday life, can enhance the characteristics and values of play, when applied in the digital space.
Article
The metaverse is the conjunction and optimization of the possibilities of the Internet and technology at their best. It is a consequence of the development and evolution of digital society. Technological innovation, fundamentally oriented toward virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed realities, contributes significantly to the creation of a solid foundation on which to build an entire universe of virtual worlds. This is a universe that, in turn, requires the creation of backbone content for narratives that attract and retain users by capturing their attention to promote a specific ecosystem that transfers the activities of the real world to a virtual one, either projected or recreated. This research is based on a systematic review of 402 articles and a qualitative analysis of 125 publications. It examines the trends in technology, application, and methodology pertaining to the metaverse in the social sciences field, namely marketing and communication and neuroscience, areas that contribute to the understanding of the social dimension of the metaverse phenomenon. Although there is abundant academic literature on the metaverse in computer science, this is not the case in the aforementioned disciplines. Given that the metaverse is destined to become the next Internet revolution, there is a race among countries and brands to position themselves within it, which is expected to intensify in the coming years. The metaverse can contribute to a wide variety of applications of a social nature, which is why it is a highly competitive tool for nations, companies, and academia, as well as the public and private media. The results indicate a technological transformation proposing a future that includes neuro-technologies based on brain–computer interfaces and the metaverse as the setting. This will occur alongside the solidification of the virtual ecosystem thanks to the emergence of digital natives and Gen Z, as well as the convergence of many different technologies and immersive and participatory content, in which the consumer is the provider, owner, and beneficiary.
Article
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We hear that the future world is the world of the Metaverse. Metaverse is a virtual space created by digital versions of various aspects of life. This study aims to examine the function of law in the metaverse world. This study uses a normative juridical method. This study concludes that the metaverse world still requires the implementation of different laws. The current laws and regulations need to make implementation adjustments in the metaverse world. The change from the real world to the virtual world is like how communication in the real world becomes digital communication that we are experiencing. Adjustments to human behavior must be accompanied by adjustments to the governing regulations. State boundaries become fictitious, and applicable laws do not recognize state and government boundaries.
Article
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Avatars, as virtual humans possessing realistic faces, are increasingly used for social and economic interaction on the Internet. Research has already determined that avatar-based communication may increase perceived interpersonal trust in anonymous online environments. Despite this trust-inducing potential of avatars, however, we hypothesize that in trust situations, people will perceive human faces differently than they will perceive avatar faces. This prediction is based on evolution theory, because throughout human history the majority of interaction among people has taken place in face-to-face settings. Therefore, unlike perception of an avatar face, perception of a human face and the related trustworthiness discrimination abilities must be part of the genetic makeup of humans. Against this background, we conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment based on a multiround trust game to gain insight into the differences and similarities of interactions between humans versus human interaction with avatars. Our results indicate that (1) people are better able to predict the trustworthiness of humans than the trustworthiness of avatars; (2) decision making about whether or not to trust another actor activates the medial frontal cortex significantly more during interaction with humans, if compared to interaction with avatars; this brain area is of paramount importance for the prediction of other individuals' thoughts and intentions (mentalizing), a notably important ability in trust situations; and (3) the trustworthiness learning rate is similar, whether interacting with humans or avatars. Thus, the major implication of this study is that although interaction on the Internet may have benefits, the lack of real human faces in communication may serve to reduce these benefits, in turn leading to reduced levels of collaboration effectiveness.
Article
ANALOG CHURCH: Why We Need Real People, Places and Things in the Digital Age by Jay Y. Kim. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2020. 192 pages. Paperback; $18.00. ISBN: 9780830841585. *There is a thought-provoking irony about this book. Analog Church: Why We Need Real People, Places and Things in the Digital Age by Jay Y. Kim was written prior to the 2020 pandemic, and published at its first peak around March of that year. The book serves as a creative warning about the church "over-embracing" modern technology and all that the digital age offers, at the cost of stifling its original purpose, a purpose steeped in analog principles of empathetic relationship. Fair enough! But along come the COVID-19 restrictions, and the church (and every other part of our institutionalized life) jumps full steam ahead as digital technology becomes essential. My own perspective is from Canadian Presbyterianism. It, with some exception, has been slow to embrace many technological advances when it comes to "doing church." Nonetheless, it and many other churches have been dragged into the twenty-first century with near abandon. The number of churches doing meetings and Sunday worship via YouTube, Zoom, Facebook, and other platforms has skyrocketed. *The prophetic voice inherent in Analog Church is speaking to the church community at a time when it is relying on digital technology to continue functioning. The introductory section of the book focuses on how technology, in and of itself, is not adequate to reach those who are searching for a transcendent meaning and purpose in life, and may, in fact, steer people away from such a relationship. In an introductory section entitled "When Values Turn Vicious," the author notes that "the digital age's technological advancements boast three major contributions to the improvement of human experience ..." (p. 15). These are speed, choices, and individualism. He notes that when such values unduly influence the church and aren't held accountable, "they turn vicious." Speed has made us impatient, choices have made us shallow, individualism has made us isolated. *It is on this premise that the author uses the remainder of the book to detail his warnings and his reasons for hope. The chapter titles are provided here, as they are descriptive of the content. Part 1 has two chapters which examine worship: "Cameras, Copycats and Caricatures: Worship in the Digital Age"; and "To Engage and to Witness: Analog Worship." Part 2 considers community: "Rebuilding Babel: Community in the Digital Age"; and "A Tax Collector and a Zealot Walk into A Crossfit: Analog Community." Part 3 looks at scripture: "Jackpot: Scripture in the Digital Age"; "HowToReadABook: Analog Scripture"; and "The Meal at the Center of History: Communion." *An example of the author's approach can be taken from the section on worship. He has the reader consider "how the digital age and technology's influence have subverted much of what worship life of the gathered people of God is meant to be" (p. 35), in part in the church's effort to reach new generations. Here he invokes the wisdom of Canadian philosopher and media guru Marshall McLuhan. He notes how McLuhan's 1960's prophetic voice is making a return due to the precise nature of his pronouncements, and how they match current circumstances. He summarizes McLuhan's "Four Laws of Media" (media in a very broad sense), as applicable to our use of technology today in the church, and, in this case, worship. The laws are summarized as follows: what does it enhance, what does it push aside, what does it retrieve that was previously pushed aside, and, what does it turn into when pushed to an extreme? As Kim moves into the value of analog worship, he notes that "digital informs," but "analog transforms," and similarly, "digital entertains, analog engages." *The author works into his narrative a number of stories based on his own life experiences, and pastors and speakers will find these worthy of using in their own teaching. While there are biblical references scattered throughout, this reviewer particularly appreciates the detailed way some scriptural passages are handled. For example, in the section regarding analog community, the author takes an extended look at the list of the first disciples in Matthew 10:2-4. He pays particular attention to the unique descriptors for two of them: Matthew, a tax collector; and Simon, a zealot. These two would have been bitter enemies, yet we read nothing of the animosity that would have existed between them. There was something, a force, contained in their leader that was much stronger than their own histories and opinions of one another. Kim later notes that there is the need for this kind of communal relationship, as "the digital age has disconnected and detached us from one another in ways completely unique to our current moment in history. True analog community is what the world is hungry for, whether they know it or not" (p.113). *The author is certainly no luddite. He applauds the use of digital technology when properly focused. He himself lives in the heart of Silicon Valley, and, in many ways, he has been at the cutting edge of digital technology and its use in the church. He is the lead pastor of teaching at WestGate Church in the same area, and until recently was teacher-in-residence at Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz. He cohosts The Regeneration Podcast. He has a very useful website (jaykimthinks.com), and he makes himself readily available via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. All this is to say that Jay Kim has considerable credibility concerning the subject matter of this book. In fact, on the March 22, 2020, version of Regeneration Podcast, there is a specific commentary about the book, with some pandemic perspective as well. One of the book's phrases which is featured in the podcast discussion is "the temptation to pursue relevance at any cost." The podcast is a good resource for those considering getting the book. *ASA/CSCA members might well be wondering if the book is primarily for pastors and church leaders (which group, of course, includes a number of our members). As for those involved with the scientific endeavor, there are also some worthy considerations. This reviewer has long considered scientific activity as a form of worship, and the work of the ASA as an important ministry in itself. Many of the warnings that Jay Kim provides in his book can be easily transferred to those who share the importance of a vital science and faith relationship. In fact, it is about relationship. Digital "spectacle" may be a useful and inspiring aspect of short-term events and conferences, but the purpose of both church and our individual witness is quite different. It requires an analog approach, enhanced by a subtle and reflective use of technology which builds upon the purpose of churches and congregations, but does not replace it. In conclusion, I would recommend this book to ASA members interested in how digital technology shapes the church. *Reviewed by Bob Geddes, a geologist and minister (retired) in the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Hamilton, ON L9A 4Y2.
Book
Over 3,600 entries ‘…not only a dictionary of communication and media but also a liberal education that enables users to see interesting relationships between many of the concepts it discusses.’ Professor Arthur Asa Berger, San Francisco State University This authoritative and up-to-date A–Z offers points of connection between communication and media and covers all aspects of interpersonal, mass, and networked communication, including digital and mobile media, advertising, journalism, social media, and nonverbal communication. In this new edition, over 2,000 entries have been revised and more than 500 have been newly added to include current terminology and concepts such as artificial intelligence , cisgender , fake news , hive mind , use theory , and wikiality . It bridges the gap between theory and practice and contains many technical terms that are relevant to the communication industry, including dialogue editing , news aggregator and primary colour correction . Additional material includes a biographical notes appendix, and entries are complemented by approved web links which guide further reading. This is an indispensable guide for undergraduate students of media and communication studies and also for those taking related subjects such as television studies, video production, communication design, visual communication, marketing communications, semiotics, and cultural studies.
Article
We believe that punctuational change dominates the history of life: evolution is concentrated in very rapid events of speciation (geologically instantaneous, even if tolerably continuous in ecological time). Most species, during their geological history, either do not change in any appreciable way, or else they fluctuate mildly in morphology, with no apparent direction. Phyletic gradualism is very rare and too slow, in any case, to produce the major events of evolution. Evolutionary trends are not the product of slow, directional transformation within lineages; they represent the differential success of certain species within a clade—speciation may be random with respect to the direction of a trend (Wright's rule). As an a priori bias, phyletic gradualism has precluded any fair assessment of evolutionary tempos and modes. It could not be refuted by empirical catalogues constructed in its light because it excluded contrary information as the artificial result of an imperfect fossil record. With the model of punctuated equilibria, an unbiased distribution of evolutionary tempos can be established by treating stasis as data and by recording the pattern of change for all species in an assemblage. This distribution of tempos can lead to strong inferences about modes. If, as we predict, the punctuational tempo is prevalent, then speciation—not phyletic evolution—must be the dominant mode of evolution. We argue that virtually none of the examples brought forward to refute our model can stand as support for phyletic gradualism; many are so weak and ambiguous that they only reflect the persistent bias for gradualism still deeply embedded in paleontological thought. Of the few stronger cases, we concentrate on Gingerich's data for Hyopsodus and argue that it provides an excellent example of species selection under our model. We then review the data of several studies that have supported our model since we published it five years ago. The record of human evolution seems to provide a particularly good example: no gradualism has been detected within any hominid taxon, and many are long-ranging; the trend to larger brains arises from differential success of essentially static taxa. The data of molecular genetics support our assumption that large genetic changes often accompany the process of speciation. Phyletic gradualism was an a priori assertion from the start—it was never “seen” in the rocks; it expressed the cultural and political biases of 19th century liberalism. Huxley advised Darwin to eschew it as an “unnecessary difficulty.” We think that it has now become an empirical fallacy. A punctuational view of change may have wide validity at all levels of evolutionary processes. At the very least, it deserves consideration as an alternate way of interpreting the history of life.
Article
Current virtual reality (VR) technologies have enormous potential to allow humans to experience computer-generated immersive virtual environments (IVEs). Many of these IVEs support near-natural audiovisual stimuli similar to the stimuli generated in our physical world. However, decades of VR research have been devoted to exploring and understand differences between perception and action in such IVEs compared to real-world perception and action. Although, significant differences have been revealed for spatiotemporal perception between IVEs and the physical world such as distance underestimation, there is still a scarcity of knowledge about the reasons for such perceptual discrepancies, in particular regarding the perception of temporal durations in IVEs. In this article, we explore the effects of manipulated zeitgebers, cognitive load and immersion on time estimation as yet unexplored factors of spatiotemporal perception in IVEs. We present an experiment in which we analyze human sensitivity to temporal durations while experiencing an immersive head-mounted display (HMD) environment. We found that manipulations of external zeitgebers caused by a natural or unnatural movement of the virtual sun had a significant effect on time judgments. Moreover, using the dualtask paradigm the results show that increased spatial and verbal cognitive load resulted in a significant shortening of judged time as well as an interaction with the external zeitgebers. Finally, we discuss the implications for the design of near-natural computergenerated virtual worlds.