Sam Hamilton has played a pivotal role in shaping the creative ethos of the Decentraland Foundation since joining as Creative Director in 2018, offering guidance to both individual users and established brands as they navigate the metaverse. Before joining Decentraland, Hamilton cultivated a notable career as a multi-platform artist, collaborating with prestigious global brands and accumulating a wealth of experience in the art, music, film, and fashion industries over a span of more than two decades.
Jing Culture & Crypto recently caught up with Sam Hamilton to discuss the rapid growth his platform has experienced over the past few years, emphasizing the role of community suggestions in shaping monthly event themes and the integration of AI technology in enhancing user experiences. Looking forward, he anticipates a seamless integration of AR/VR into daily life, driven by advancements in hardware and the entry of tech giants like Apple into the industry.
Since joining Decentraland in 2018, how have you seen the metaverse evolve, and where do you envision it heading in the next decade?
I’ve watched a small underground community of a few hundred people who were passionate about an ambitious idea work hard, against the odds to make it a reality, albeit a virtual one. The first events I put on were for a handful of people and the content was so raw it’s almost comical to look back.
We came through a rapid growth period amplified by COVID and then a media hype cycle that turned the world’s attention on a project in its infancy, probably a little too soon, before all of the bugs had been ironed out, but the tech continues to improve and get closer to an experience mainstream users can appreciate and enjoy. The next big leap will be in Hardware.
Obviously, Apple entering the industry is a game changer, and that in itself is likely to encourage adoption. In a decade I expect that AR/VR will be a part of many people’s everyday lives, the experiences will be fully immersive and the gap between our physical and digital lives will become less obvious. Of course, we are still in the very early days of this technology and over the decades to come we can expect inventions and innovations that we never imagined to change the game further. A.I. Tech is doing that now for instance, content creation has never been easier.
Can you shed light on the inspiration behind the monthly event themes, such as the Design Month: Metaverse Architecture Biennale, and how they aim to engage the Decentraland community?
We have been hosting big quarterly events for the last few years and recently we have had studios, brands and agencies requesting more regular and diverse events. We gave it some thought and have come up with a plan for themed months including big events until the end of 2024. This gives everybody who wants to activate during these events a chance to plan ahead.
The themes themselves come from already existing popular events such as Fashion Week and our annual Music Festival, ideas requested by the community such as Metaverse Motor Show and Metaverse Architecture Biennale, some industries we’d like to explore more, such as Travel, and Food and Drink and some of the themes such as Wellness or Gaming are just aligned with our community and are going to be a lot fun to host.
How has the integration of AI into Decentraland enhanced the user experience, and what challenges and rewards have you encountered in this process?
A.I. is an emerging tech that isn’t quite perfect yet, much like the so-called Metaverse and I think the two are going to evolve in parallel. On a personal level I am creating a lot of concept art using AI and that has enabled a massive increase in productivity. We teamed up with InWorlds.ai to create A.I. NPCs that guide our users around Decentraland and we have open-sourced that code to the community so that anyone can build their own A.I. NPCs and we’ve been playing with Blockade Games text to sky box tool too, which is awesome.
We also had an internal hackathon day at the Decentraland Foundation and came up with lots of ways to use AI in our workflow. Some of those tools we built out and are using, some of the projects were a glimpse into the future, but all super interesting.
A.I. is scaling user-generated content in an unprecedented way and is changing the creative industries as we know them.
The tool that will be the biggest game changer for Decentraland, and all virtual worlds will be text-to-3D objects and text-to-3D environment, the tools I’ve used to date are not really up to scratch yet, but it’s only a matter of time before that tech is also commonplace.
How do your diverse experiences in Art, Music, Film, and Fashion influence your approach to shaping the creative direction of Decentraland?
At its heart Decentraland is an open-source protocol for the next iteration of the internet, which is revolutionary technology and a super interesting social experiment, but what really brings people to the platform to use that tech in a meaningful way is culture. I guess I am lucky to have some experience in many of the arts industries so putting together a variety of cultural events came naturally to me and I feel genuinely privileged to lead the way in telling the stories of these industries using a brand new medium.
Beyond that, I believe coders are the true artists of the 21st century and it’s an honor to work alongside developers who are shaping society through their creations and delivering tools that allow the next generation of creators to realize their dreams.
How do you ensure that brand integrations in Decentraland are both meaningful and authentic, while also providing value to the community?
The simple answer to this is we can’t and we don’t, as Decentraland is an open platform any brand can build in Decentraland the content they choose without having permission or any input from us.
Having said that, we have a small internal creative team who are happy to advise and even collaborate with brands to make sure they deliver quality experiences that are aligned with Web3 principles. Many brands do reach out to us directly and we are lucky to be able to lean on our amazing creative community which includes a list of 200+ verified studios that we can connect with brands for an end-to-end service from concept to delivering experiences in Decentraland.