Experience Radar 32: Gucci’s Garden On Roblox, The Science Of Psychedelics, And Sony’s Metaverse Vision

At The WXO, we want to connect the dots across the Experience Economy and across the globe – so each week, we’ll be bringing you our round-up of the experiential stories that we think reveal something interesting, relevant or transferrable about the Experience Economy.

Welcome to Experience Radar 32, where we’re hotel hopping in the metaverse, roaming through Gucci’s garden on Roblox, and exploring the ‘pleasure revenge’ trend.

1. Travelling Without Moving In The Metaverse

Headline and above image; Gucci Garden Archetypes on Roblox; M Social in Decentraland, Millennium Hotels

For those keen to travel without leaving their armchair, the metaverse is pulsing with exciting opportunities as hospitality firms bound into the arena with brio. As reported by Wunderman Thompson, Singaporean hospitality group Millennium Hotels opened the first virtual hotel in the metaverse – M Social in Decentraland – in May. Located near Genesis Plaza, the hotel sits on prime virtual property at the heart of Decentraland, near social spaces like a virtual bar and café where avatars can meet friends for a drink and take in a spot of digital art.

Regal Hotels, meanwhile, entered the metaverse in April with MetaGreen, a project to develop an environmental, social and governance-themed ‘green metropolis’ in The Sandbox, which is due to launch in October. The virtual city will boast a convention center, sustainability-themed shopping mall, art gallery, and a metaverse biosphere promoting biodiversity. Elsewhere, the Lucky Ape Travel Club has launched a members-only NFT club granting members free lodging in boutique hotels in Bali, Cape Town, Buenos Aires, Rio, Miami and Tulum, along with access to exclusive private parties in exotic destinations.

2. Are You Seeking Pleasure Revenge?

Marriott’s safari tents, Coachella

With the pandemic having sucked up two years of our lives into the void, consumers are keen to make up for lost time as we move further into the roaring twenties. Trend oracle Faith Popcorn calls the movement ‘Pleasure Revenge’; a trend she first spotted in the ‘80s which is fast gathering speed. Back then it was cocaine, fast cars, giant steaks, copious Martinis and fat cigars. “Pleasure became paramount. Self-indulgence was the new black, and people partied harder and harder. Economic prosperity also fired up this cultural current, as the roaring stock market fuelled many an ‘I deserve it’ satiation session,” says Popcorn.

Today pleasure revenge is still very much on the menu, but it has manifested in new ways, from binge-watching box sets to blissing out with a spliff to soften the contours of your environment. “Living well is becoming synonymous with hyper-indulgent excess, as worldly, wealthy citizens continue their spending sprees on mega-expensive purchases and elite immersive experiences, like the luxury yurts at Coachella and Ralph Lauren offering a luxury apartment and rooftop for private VIP shopping,” says Popcorn, who predicts that innovations in tech will add fuel to the hedonistic fire, delivering intense, escapist highs.

3. Immersive Show To Shake Up The Smokies

The 407: Gateway to Adventure Theme Park, US

In its quest to redefine tourism at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has inked a deal to bring an international entertainment company to the US for the first time. As reported by US News, Tribal Council and international theme park company Puy du Fou have signed a letter of intent to develop a new “spectacular immersive show” as part of a 200-acre development located at Exit 407 south of Interstate 40 on the way to the Smokies. Tribal Council approved $75 million for phase one development of ‘The 407: Gateway to Adventure’.

Puy du Fou is known for its immersive experiences inspired by history. The flagship park in France draws over 2.3 million visitors each year. It features shows, period villages and on-site resorts. In the US, Puy du Fou will produce an immersive walk-through show inspired by the journeys of Cherokee Indians who served in World War I, intended to be a “patriotic and moving journey for the entire family”. It is estimated that the development could attract as many as 6.7 million visitors in its first year after phase one is complete in 2024.

4. Staying In Is The New Going Out

Ultimate Night In collection, Dominos Pizza

In the battle of the entertainment spaces, the sofa seems to be winning out over out-of-home (OOH) locations as the trend for convenience gathers speed. As reported by White Hutchinson, in a recent survey, the number of people who prefer to stay home over the weekend has grown by 16%, from 37.7% in 2011 to 53.7% last year. Meanwhile, the number of high-propensity visitors to cultural venues who prefer to stay home at the weekend has increased by 17%, from 28.6% in 2011 to 45.8% last year. The trend doesn’t bode well for entertainment spaces the world over, which are going to have to work harder than ever to encourage people off the couch and into the great outdoors. (For advice on how to do this, see Campfire 2: Help! How Can The Experience Economy Save Our Cities? and Campfire 18: Back To Live.)

“People make leisure and entertainment choices in terms of two key dimensions – the experience and its convenience. It’s a trade-off between the quality of the experience and the ease of access in time, effort, and money. To win, you need to be at one extreme or the other of the fidelity-convenience continuum,” White Hutchinson reports. “The coming metaverse will continue to dispute the perceived value of many OOH experiences. Today and in the future, to win, the quality of out-of-home leisure and entertainment experiences will need to be much higher than just two years ago,” it adds.

5. How Does Gucci’s Garden Grow?

Gucci Garden Archetypes on Roblox

Fashion house Gucci is to launch a virtual Gucci Garden space on Roblox for a fortnight to run alongside its Gucci Garden Archetypes immersive multimedia experience in Florence, which delves into different Gucci campaigns exploring the attitude and spirit of each collection. The Gucci Garden experience is divided into themed rooms where visitors can immerse themselves in the inspirations behind creative director Alessandro Michele’s designs.

As they enter the garden, visitors will shed their avatars, becoming a neutral mannequin. Wandering through the different rooms, the mannequins take in elements of the exhibition. “With every person experiencing the rooms in a different order and retaining different fragments of the spaces, they will emerge at the end of their journey as unique creations, reflecting the idea of individuals as one among many, yet wholly unique,” a spokesperson for Gucci said. The Gucci Garden will include a store where visitors can buy limited-edition avatar items inspired by the exhibits showcased in Florence.

6. Sony Reveals Vision For The Metaverse

Vision for the metaverse, Sony

Japanese tech giant Sony has revealed its vision for the metaverse – a space it is keen to conquer. “The metaverse is at the same time a social space and live network space where games, music, movies and anime intersect,” Sony’s CEO, Kenichiro Yoshida told Reuters, pointing to the use of free-to-play battle royale title Fortnite from Epic Games as an online social space. Sony’s game, music and movie units contributed two-thirds of its operating income over the last 12 months, underscoring the group’s transformation from electronics maker into a metaverse-ready entertainment juggernaut under Yoshida.

The firm is a gaming gatekeeper with its PlayStation 5 console, and has been adjusting its approach, enabling cross-play in Fortnite in 2018. Epic said in-game ‘V-Bucks’ currency purchased on PlayStation would be usable on other platforms. “PlayStation has played a huge role in the social gaming revolution that’s nurturing the growth of the metaverse as a new entertainment medium,” Epic’s CEO, Tim Sweeney, said. Sony has taken steps to expand beyond its focus on single-player titles with the acquisition of Bungie, developer of online multi-player shooter Destiny.

7. Psychedelics Are Fuelling Scientific Creativity

Image by Skyler Ewing

Could psychedelics help to unlock scientific creativity and insight? According to a recently published paper, titled Psychedelics as potential catalysts of scientific creativity, scientists should be harnessing the power of psychedelics to help expand their minds and broaden their creative horizons for the greater good of mankind. “Given the centrality of science to human progress and well-being, developing a scientific culture that consciously facilitates methods to catalyse creativity could yield wide-scale societal benefits,” the paper says.

“The psychedelic state may yield some of the same benefits as the dream and hypnagogic states, but provide a more reliable way to access an altered state, while also contributing distinct and unique qualities to cognition and creative thinking. When used in an applied context, with prior focus and emotional engagement on a creative task, psychedelics may help stimulate some aspects of scientific creativity and insight at the ‘illumination’ stage of the creative process. Now is the time for increased national and international policy deliberations about the best way to regulate access to psychedelics,” it adds.

To check out previous experiential nuggets from around the globe, visit our Experience Radar archive.