To many people, gaming is kids sitting in front of a computer. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, games allow deeper connections with our world and create greater cultural understanding. Esports is changing our world in four ways: virtual experience economy, virtual status symbols, shoppable streaming, and connecting mentor to mentee.
Virtual Experience Economy
Whether it’s concerts, museum tours, or travel, there will be increasing opportunities for people to get their “experience” fix virtually. This is especially true in the new normal after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research has shown that the relaxing impact of walking in nature can be experienced just through watching photos or videos. What else can be experienced? Examples of entertainment properties, celebrities, and brands that transform live content into experiential content with first-of-its-kind interactions are outlined by Tatiana Tacca, Founder, Oni Vision:
- Virtual music performances: There has been a growing trend in game concerts and performances, such as Ariana Grande in Fortnite, Block by Blockwest in Minecraft, and Lil Nas X in Roblox. These quintessential cross-culture experiences go beyond the limitations of the real world, enabling more fans to enjoy the experience.
- Film marketing initiatives: Streamer Dr Lupo interviewed Sacha Baron Cohen in character as Borat live on his Twitch stream to promote the film.
- Health and wellness promotion: Sweetgreen partnered with Valkyrae, the world’s biggest female streamer, as a brand ambassador alongside other fitness influencers for a custom bowl and healthy “sweetstream,” showcasing the opportunity for more healthy messaging in gaming.
Virtual Status Symbols
Games already allow consumer-players to purchase virtual goods. With the concept of sustainable consumption making a bigger impact on our psyche, virtual goods can replace physical goods as status symbols. And these symbols will not be limited to certain industries and demographics. Just take a look at the growth of NFT avatars. There is a trend of people using their NFT avatars as their profile pictures, a chance to flex their status, especially if one owns an expensive avatar. Having one of these is the digital equivalent of a Lamborghini or Rolex.
Another influential factor driving the development of digital luxury is the accelerated adoption of metaverses, which are virtual worlds anticipated by many to be the next evolution of social media. For example, luxury homeware brand Olivia started to offer virtual interior design consultancy services to help Animal Crossing players decorate their virtual islands.
Money being spent on virtual fashion can be huge. One such brand is Moschino, which recently launched a Sims-inspired capsule collection complete with green diamond-printed swimsuits. The launch was also accompanied by the release of a virtual version of the capsule’s Freezer Bunny hoodie for all of the current Sims titles, so that your Sims can be kitted out in Moschino, too. In May 2018, in New York, the world’s first piece of ‘digital couture’ was sold at a charity auction for $9,500. The iridescent, translucent one-piece was designed by Amber Jae Slooten, creative director at The Fabricant, to be fitted onto a photo of the owner.
Shoppable streaming, or shopstreaming as defined by Trendwatching, is the merging of online shopping and social connections. Livestreaming, particularly in China, is growing rapidly. It’s appealing because it combines shopping with entertainment. This trend is set to go big on a global scale. Shopstreaming formats run the gamut from fashion shows and product demos to virtual tours and makeup tutorials, from online wine tastings and clothing hauls to electronics auctions and listening parties. They invariably feature hosts and influencers speaking into the camera, responding to questions and comments.
Brands need to take notice. Shopstreaming is instant, social, and efficient. And what about the fact that it shortens the sales cycle. The UX is key; shopstreaming allows consumers to get live assistance quickly and get the answers they want. For many D2C brands this is an ideal platform. In Europe and North America, Nordstrom, Moda Operandi, and Walmart are a few companies who have already taken the dive.
Connecting Mentor to Mentee
There is currently a plethora of self-improvement content online, but going forward, there will be new platforms that connect mentors, experts, and teachers with individuals wanting to learn new skills.
Nepris, founded by Sabari Raja, connects educators and learners with a network of industry professionals, virtually bringing real-world relevance and career exposure to all students. Nepris also provides a skills-based volunteering platform for organizations to extend education outreach and build their brand among the future workforce. Through virtual appointments and video calls, K-12 students from across the US can meet with educators and business professionals from a variety of industries. In addition to opportunities for mentoring and project feedback, students can see how concepts taught in the classroom are practically applied to things like manufacturing a car or designing a roller coaster.
The future is here. Whether you are an entrepreneur, corporate executive, parent, or investor, you need to be aware of what people will value and where their priorities will be in the future. Understanding how the gaming sector is touching our daily lives is one way to ensure we are all equipped to capitalize on opportunities in the future.
Written by Lucy Chow.
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