Robin Schmidt, CEO of Metaverse content production company BasedAF, just ran an ultramarathon in one of the most controversial places on earth – the Metaverse.
The livestream event, sponsored by the Fantom Foundation – which matched every dollar donation up to $50k – saw BasedAF raise over $100k for Great Ormond Street Children’s hospital in the United Kingdom. And maybe challenge certain preconceptions about the Metaverse itself.
According to Schmidt, “Web3 has taken a pretty serious reputational hit in the past 12 months, because of bad actors in the space. We wanted to show a better side by raising money for an amazing cause. And thanks to our community, The BasedHeads, who donated through the Web3 crowdfunding platform, Juicebox, we managed it.”
BasedAF aims to tell the story of the Metaverse as it unfolds. “Part of that,” says Schmidt, “means challenging peoples’ preconceptions. To some, the Metaverse conjures images of a bleak future typified by increasing social isolation at the hands of big tech,” says Schmidt. “That may end up true. On the other hand, the Metaverse offers something else: a profoundly social, active experience – the chance for humans to work, collaborate, and play in a whole new way – one that brings us together, rather than drives us further apart.”
“Plus, some of the clearest expressions of the Metaverse today are inherently tied to physical activity. The pandemic saw an explosion in virtual exercise platforms like Zwift. Most people don’t think of Zwift as belonging to the Metaverse. But it’s effectively a proto-Metaverse experience, and it’s already being used by millions.”
Completing a grueling endurance event, and raising $100k for Great Ormond Street Hospital in the process, was a way for BasedAF to showcase what’s already possible in the Metaverse even at this nascent stage.
To prepare, Schmidt underwent months of physical preparation, training at high altitude in Kenya, and spending time with the Tarahumara in Mexico’s Copper Canyon.
“I wanted to train my body and mind, but also connect to something else: for as long as humans have walked on two legs, we’ve been running. As content creators, we didn’t simply want to take on an ultramarathon, we wanted to explore what running means to different people, and different cultures, and how that may or may not translate into a virtual experience.”
There were, of course, some serious technical hurdles to overcome. “The Metaverse doesn’t really exist yet. At least not in the form it one day will. We’re at the stage where we can imagine what it could be, but couldn’t just beam in and go for a run. We needed to build the terrain ourselves, figure out how to track real world distances in a virtual environment, and then connect it to an omni-directional treadmill.”
BasedAF documented the whole process for its first film, which included preparation, due to go live on its newly launched YouTube channel next month.
Now that BasedAF has proven that it can be done, they’re gearing up for their next tentpole production, with principal photography beginning next month. In the meantime, the BasedAF team is preparing a Valentine’s Day special: a Metaverse-based dating reality show that will seek to explore the nature of human connections as they unfold in virtual environments.