Video game publisher Epic Games is tying up legacy toymaker and entertainment company Lego to build what they claim would be a metaverse for kids. Exact details on how this rendition of the metaverse would work, or look like, remain scarce for now. However, in a joint press release, the two companies said that clear focus will be put on prioritising the safety of children accessing the virtual world — although it’s not very clear what the two companies will do differently to make this happen.
As part of their joint efforts in building the kid-friendly metaverse, Epic and Lego have said that there will be three key principles that the development process will follow. These principles include prioritising children well-being and safety to protect the rights of underage internet users, safeguarding their privacy, and “empower children and adults with tools that give them control over their digital experience.”
However, beyond the jargon-laden mission statement on the kids metaverse project, neither company has offered details in terms of how all the said safeguarding of children would be done.
Both Epic and Lego have the requisite experience to build a kid-friendly online gaming world. Epic has had experience in building an open virtual world with Fortnite, which may give them some amount of expertise in building a virtual world targeted at a specific age group. Lego, too, has had experiences building games, and continues to be one of the most enduring toymakers in the world.
In September 2021, Epic had acquired SuperAwesome, a company that specialised in building safe online tools and services for kids. As part of this acquisition, Epic gained access to its Kids Web Services (KWS), which seemingly offers identity verification services for parents in a bid to ensure that kids are not exposed to online worlds without adequate supervision.
The latter could be a significant issue in such metaverse concepts, which was recently detailed by Thorn, a US-based nonprofit company that focuses on digital rights and online safety of children. In a report, Sarah Gardner, vice president of the company’s external affairs had said that child predators typically target platforms that would attract kids — and are defined by loosely guarded privacy and security laws.
While it’s not clear how, it appears that the Epic-Lego kids metaverse concept is attempting to answer this very concern, going forward. As of now, there is no target launch date for the platform.