The much-loved Smurfs, one of Belgium's most cherished exports, are expanding their adventures and they will now have a village in The Sandbox's 'metaverse'.
The Sandbox is a virtual gaming world which was launched in 2012, where players can build, own and monetise their gaming experiences. Anyone can 'build' a metaverse, with the Sandbox game preceding Facebook's plans to create their own version of it.
Adding the Smurfs to The Sandbox's game is an expansion of a virtual environment where people are increasingly spending more time. Its French co-founder, Sebastian Bourget, has a passion for the Smurfs and was keen to include them.
"The project has developed quickly, The Sandbox team have been very creative" Guillaume Boudol, Head of Licencing at IMPS, who own the intellectual property rights to the Smurfs, told L'Echo. "Every day they added new layers to the virtual world, it was almost like seeing the village prosper and grow in an organic manner."
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Boudol explained that The Sandbox team had contacted IMPS back in 2020 to collaborate on the project. IMPS is owned by Veronique Culliford, daughter of the Belgian Smurfs creator, Pierre Culliford.
It is expected that the Smurf village will launch in The Sandbox this summer. Players will be given the mission of helping The Smurfs and will be able to buy a Smurf avatar. Players without Smurf avatars can still access Sandbox, but IMPS hopes that they will choose to do so with Smurf traits.
"The avatars are there to be played, not for reproduction and commercial use," said Boudol. Meanwhile, he is excited about how the Smurfs will appear in the virtual world. "Trees that will seem normal to humans, will look giant for Smurfs," he stressed.
The Smurfs are Belgian comic book figures who reside in a community of small, blue, human-like characters who live in mushroom-shaped houses in a forest. They were created by the Belgian comic book writer Pierre Culliford, also known as Peyo, in 1958.
There are over 100 Smurf characters, with names that emphasise their characters, such as 'Jokey Smurf', who likes to do practical jokes on other Smurfs. The Smurfs wear Phrygian caps, a symbol of liberty due to their use during the French revolution.
"Smurfette" was the first female Smurf to be included in the series. The lack of other female characters has given rise to the 'Smurfette principle', which includes only one woman in an otherwise male cast, in which women are an exception and exist only in relation to men.
The Smurfs started as a comic book series but has moved into film, TV series, advertising and video games. The move into the metaverse is the latest expansion.