There’s no need for signposts in this corner of the metaverse. Perhaps it’s the beckoning neon lights reflected in the glistening waters, or maybe it’s the pulsating rhythms sparking my character’s movements into life. Either way, the way forward is obvious. As I take my first step onto a rainbow railroad that effortlessly guides me towards my destination, I steal a moment to take stock of where I am, and why I’ve come here.
Currently I’m inside Roblox, the metaverse platform of choice for a countless and befuddlingly diverse array of brands – including but by no means limited to the likes of Kellogg’s, Gucci, and Chipotle. I’m here because WAVE, a DJ based fully and utterly within the metaverse (and whose recently-released album included tracks composed for the automotive giant Kia), has now become part of a new experience in this digital domain: WAVE’s Heart + Mind. Whilst the experience itself is currently still in beta, LBB has been given an exclusive invite to find out what precisely is on offer – and what it might mean for brands looking to collaborate with WAVE.
The concept, as its name suggests, is a journey into the cybernetic innards of WAVE themselves. Along the way visitors can expect to ‘explore, jump, and collect’ whilst they ‘listen, feel, and connect’, in the words of the experience’s description on the Roblox website. Pulling the strings of this show is a combination between the music and sound expertise of DaHouse audio, in collaboration with the visual effects mastery of Final Frontier. Tantalisingly, we’re invited into ‘the caverns of the heart’ before we ‘take the dancefloor by storm’ in the Mind Nightclub. So far, so conceptual.
All of which has raised my excitement to palpable levels as I smoothly arrive at the inviting entrance of the experience. In front of me are two paths – one guiding me to the Heart, and another to the Mind. Head over heart? No chance. Without undue hesitation, I press forward into WAVE’s heart, and brace myself for whatever lies on the other side.
Heart in the Right Place
I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t quite this. The gentle but undeniable beat of the exterior world has gone, replaced with a light but audible echo as I pace around what is indeed the enormous cavern of WAVE’s Heart. The silence is so loud that I can hear water droplets tumbling onto the ground from all corners of this sprawling interior.
That lack of music, though, is the point. It doesn’t take much time to discover that the goal in this part of the experience is to unlock the keys to WAVE’s music, so that it can be released in this part of their body (if digital beings can be said to have a ‘body’) once more.
It’s here that WAVE’s Heart + Mind strays closest towards what we might traditionally think of as a ‘videogame’. For all that this is a future-facing experience, the design here owes just as much to classic 90s platformers such as Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie as it does to anything from this decade. But this proves to be a reassuring delight – the fundamentals of game design provide just as much fun here as they did for those kids unwrapping their Nintendo 64s with joy on any given Christmas Day in the late 90s.