As part of Degree Deodorant’s mission to shape the standard of inclusivity and representation in the virtual world, the brand has partnered with 3D virtual world platform Decentraland, Grammy-nominated rapper Fat Joe, and Paralympic athlete Blake Leeper to host the world’s first marathon in the metaverse.
The Degree Metathon will take place on Tuesday at 6 PM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).
The course itself will cover 26.2 virtual miles of Decentraland’s largest district, the Vegas City Sports Quarter, and will feature accessible architecture, such as ramps for wheelchair users, to reflect a more inclusive landscape.
Degree and Decentraland will also introduce a more inclusive avatar library for users to choose from.
With newly developed wearables –– prostheses, running blades, and a wheelchair –– both brands aim to offer greater representation for people with disabilities while enabling participants to create avatars that embody their identities.
According to a new global study of 6,000 people by the Institute of Digital Fashion, almost 60% of respondents felt there was a lack of inclusivity in virtual worlds. More than 40% described their online clothing style as “surreal,” meaning not the same as their in-person identities.
To advocate for these necessary changes, Degree polled the Decentraland community and found that 98% of landowners support making movement in Decentraland more accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities.
“As a person with disabilities and a professional runner, I am so excited to take part in the Degree Metathon,” said eight-time Paralympic medalist Blake Leeper. “Showing people in the virtual world who are running with blades and other prostheses is something that I think will inspire confidence in people with disabilities to get involved and feel welcome to join in on this experience, and will ultimately contribute to increased representation.”
According to a press release, Degree also chose to involve hip-hop artist and musician Fat Joe because of his advocacy for representation in the music and entertainment industry.
“As the metaverse continues to evolve, it’s important that the virtual world mirrors the representation in our everyday communities,” said Fat Joe. “From different body shapes to cultures to physical abilities, inclusion is key to making people feel welcome.”
Following the Metathon, Degree says it will expand its work on inclusion in the metaverse through adding audio description for the visually impaired and implementing non-binary avatar options, as well as a variety of body shapes and sizes.
“We hope the Degree Metathon will spark conversation on why representation matters—in both the Metaverse and the physical world — and its power in challenging societal norms,” said Kathryn Swallow, global brand vice president of Degree. “We’re excited about our partnership with Decentraland and about the potential to influence the virtual world as it’s being built and more widely adopted by consumers.”
There is currently no real-life physical component to this virtual marathon. Participants are moving their avatar, not themselves. However, a spokesperson said that the brand will have an “IRL component in the coming months,” likely for another event.