What happens to youth who learned all the “combos” in Mortal Kombat? At least one entrepreneur has the answer. Amber Allen, founder of Double A Labs, admits to still playing video games from time to time. But she’s also switched sides, counting among her clients Activision-Blizzard (NASD: MSFT), Dell, and singer Katie Perry. A speaker at Grit Daily House 2022 during SxSW, here’s the inside scoop on what’s next for gamers and, well, everyone. Since the “metaverse” is not just coming. It’s already here.
Grit Daily: What’s behind the Double A Labs name?
Amber Allen: Double A is me. Amber Allen. Daddy always said you can lose it all and get it back, but not your reputation. I used my name to ensure we always upheld the right values as a company. We used to be Double A Events, but would always integrate technology into every experience. Our first digital world was built in 2017 for a hybrid experience we designed for Blizzard. Fans were able to immerse themselves in the on-site experience from home. Creating a metaverse for the average user was still a bit before its time, but the insights along the way are all baked into our new platform, Double A.
Along the way, we changed our company name to Double A Labs to better represent who we are — a team of engineers, analysts, creatives, producers, and project managers. Double A Labs felt more fitting for a company that is innovating and creating technology to optimize experiences and engagement.
Grit Daily: For the uninitiated, what’s your background as a ‘gamer girl’?
Amber Allen: I grew up a bonafide gamer girl in East Texas. Mario Bros, Zelda, Halo, Mortal Kombat – you name it, I played it. I’ve always loved to play games. I still do. I’m even having a board game night with my friends tonight. Gaming gave me an outlet to think in new ways and connect with people who live all over the world. I found my people through games. This sparked my desire to be a part of the industry and figure out a way to leverage technology to solve complex problems and connect people. I worked in the gaming industry and when I started Double A Labs, we focused on serving gaming and tech companies. Being a gamer girl prepared me to expect the unexpected and attack problems head on!
Grit Daily: How do you know where to start when you “build a virtual world?”
Amber Allen: The biggest benefit of a metaverse platform for a brand is to get direct feedback and insights from your audience in real time as they connect, learn, play and collaborate! In order to build a virtual world, you need to first understand your audience’s needs and the use case for your metaverse. Are you selling a product, training a team, producing a brand experience or all of the above? Virtual Worlds can look and feel a million different ways. Our metaverse platform is focused on strengthening human connection and boosting productivity. It turns work into play. Many people automatically think Fortnite when someone says virtual world, but the reality is that businesses are starting to find great value in integrating virtual worlds into their workflow. Here are some questions we ask clients when they’re mapping out their metaverse:
- What are your overall goals for the project?
- What data is most important to collect along the way?
- Who is your audience, and how tech-savvy are they? Understanding the devices your audience is most comfortable using, and getting buy-in along the way, is essential for user adoption.
- What current tools and assets would you like to integrate into the experience (e.g., collaboration tools, CRM, vIdeos, white papers, survey tools, 3D assets, etc.)?
Next, evaluate which platform would best match your audience, needs and goals.
Grit Daily: What is one of the wildest “use cases” you’ve been asked for so far?
Amber Allen: We are working with a team called TRISH out of Baylor University who focuses on space travel safety. I am a big advocate of STEAM, instead of just STEM, and their world combines Science, Technology, and Art for everyone from space enthusiasts to NASA engineers. Their goal is to make their white papers and hard to understand research more fun, inviting, and easy to understand. What’s a better way to educate people about space travel safety than a space shuttle metaverse! What’s wild is how cool it is to bridge the gap across many audiences to tell a powerful and important story.
Grit Daily: Sight and sound seem more obvious. How do you evoke taste, smell, and touch, at a “hybrid” or full-on Metaverse?
Amber Allen: We’ve designed events before for clients like YouTube, Blizzard, and Dell where we sent items to influencers to accompany their experience so when certain things happened digitally, the physical products could enhance the moment in real life. Join a virtual cocktail party and share a cocktail – watch a screening and eat some popcorn. Combining digital moments with real-world senses can definitely heighten the experience. We’ve also executed hundreds of hybrid events and found that empowering the at-home audience with tools to impact the live event gave them a sense of experiencing it directly. For instance, we produced an interactive obstacle video experience where the at-home audience could vote on what would be thrown at the subject. They could then watch it happen live on Twitch. Bringing together the physical and the digital is the best way to amplify your reach and engage a much larger audience.
Grit Daily: What do you love most about your job?
Amber Allen: I love building tools that empower creators to create! By making Double A super simple and easy to access, it bridges the gap across generations and demographics for all people to find ways to connect, have a voice and share their vision. Building a product that helps bridge the understanding of the metaverse is my passion.
Didn’t catch Amber at Grit Daily House 2022 during SxSW? Check out her panel with Celsius Network’s Tal Bentov, Twitch and Fortnite gamer Cynthia Bahati, and Miami NFT Week’s Julie Lamb.