Educating in the Metaverse Pt 2: Candice Mudrick

The Metaverse space is ever-expanding. As we approach the next wave of the internet, many scholars, academics, and researchers are diving into Web3; In this Educating in the Metaverse series, we talk to the leading minds researching the metaverse. In part two of this series, we chat with Candice Mudrick, a senior product manager at NVIDIA  for cloud gaming.

In a prior role, she was also the head of Market Analysis at Newzoo. Newzoo is a global provider of gaming analytics. At the company, Candice helped produce the “Intro to the Metaverse.” report, a comprehensive piece covering the gaming metaverse and its intricacies. We had the pleasure of talking to Candice about this report.

Can you tell us a bit about your background? 

“I have an electrical engineering degree, but I figured out pretty early on that I wasn’t going to stay in a pure engineering role. I started out as a GPU program manager for several years at Qualcomm. Afterwards, I knew I wanted to be closer to the business side, so I did my MBA at the University of Oxford, and switched to the games industry from there.

I’ve been a gamer my whole life, but I didn’t think seriously about joining the industry before that point. I worked at Blizzard Entertainment briefly during my MBA (for the StarCraft II / Heroes of the Storm team) and then I joined Newzoo after learning about the company while at Blizzard. I stayed 3 wonderful years at Newzoo as Head of Market Analysis working on all kinds of cool gaming consulting projects before leaving to join the cloud gaming product team at NVIDIA. I’ve now been here just shy of 6 months!”

Candice Mudrick as a Ready Player Me avatar

How did you get involved with writing the “Introduction to the Metaverse Report.”

“It’s Newzoo’s role to be a thought leader in the games space and to make games data more accessible. By doing this, Newzoo removes barriers to the growth of the industry. Newzoo was one of the first to report on the growth of esports and mobile gaming, for example. The metaverse was a topic my team knew was going to be game-changing for the industry, so we made the decision to create a thought piece on it back in 2020.

At the time it was intended to be a small bonus for our clients — but once we started researching, it quickly became a rabbit hole and in the end we made a free version available to everyone because we felt it was important to bring awareness to this industry-changing trend.”

Can you give us a brief overview of the report? What were your objectives when writing it? 

“The metaverse is a big topic, but we wanted to break it down and focus on its relevance specifically for gaming. In the end, it’s content for our clients and we also wanted to use it to gauge interest from the industry in terms of building a standalone paid report – what types of gaming or metaverse data will companies be looking for?”

The connection between Covid-19 and the Metaverse is interesting, shining a spotlight on virtual means. Do you think the pandemic has spurred on Metaverse development?

“Without question. The games industry had a record-breaking year as people spent more time than ever in virtual worlds and games. We saw weddings, funerals, graduations, concerts, and more taking place virtually when physical options were not possible.”

Do you think we might not have been talking about the metaverse for years to come without the pandemic?

“The pandemic didn’t change the course of the trend, it only sped it up. The trends we saw – people spending more time socializing in game worlds, especially youth – that was already happening even before the pandemic. Tim Sweeney has been talking about the metaverse since at least 2016 or even earlier. And of course you have Second Life and MMOs popular starting in the early 2000’s. The metaverse isn’t a new concept, but I think the pandemic really brought our timeline forward in terms of what’s possible”.

How do you think the metaverse will shape economics politics alongside the social elements of web3?

“I think we’ll see trends that mirror the ones in the physical space. For example, geopolitical status will play an important role in terms of content regulation, interoperability, and connectivity. China’s metaverse content may not necessarily be directly connected to the West’s. Severed ties between Russia and the West at the moment is already playing out in the Web2 space, and certainly would translate to Web3 as well.”

“From a social point of view, co-location and distance is no longer a requirement for social activity. Instead, bubbles will form along common languages. We already see this in streaming and esports. For example, esports teams and streamers from Spain also have a huge fanbase in Spanish-speaking LATAM.”

Traditionally an authoritarian state, China’s Metaverse may differ from the west. How do you think it will conflict? Will it be decentralized?

“I think the biggest challenge is that a true metaverse needs to be filled with user-generated content, and China doesn’t always have the most conducive environment for that. However, Tencent has so many integrated services and technologies that they are the ones best positioned for a unified metaverse. But the last I heard, Tencent is taking a bit different approach, focusing on the merging of real and digital, where bringing digital content to real life is just as important as vice versa. Having said that, they did acquire Black Shark recently, and Black Shark said they will now focus on AR/VR. “

Do you think the metaverse, through alternative gaming models like play 2 earn, will improve gaming for the better? If so, why?

Play to Earn is better for players as it confers real ownership, but I think normal gamers are put off right now by anything crypto-related as a result of the high number of bad actors in the crypto and NFT space. A lot of great people are working to build up amazing experiences in P2E, though, so I don’t think it will stay that way for too long!

What excites you most about the metaverse?

It’s like the wild west. Anyone can build something great.

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