What is trending?
Identity is beginning to enter the virtual realm as people seek to express themselves digitally. We are moving beyond a simple username to encompass additional identifying characteristics, as users look to be represented authentically. They are looking for inclusion, diversity and personalised options. ‘The Sims 4’ game, for example, has introduced a way for players to customise their pronouns. In cyberspace, users are not limited to the boundaries of the real world and are able to represent their identities any way they like. For instance, in the March Through Time event on Fortnite, players are able to witness Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s iconic 17-minute speech for civil rights while representing themselves as they choose – and not necessarily in human form.
Why is it important?
As more people begin to embrace virtual spaces, it is important that this digital world caters for the diversity of identities found in the physical world and for those wishing to represent their unique attributes. We are heading towards having parallel lives in the metaverse. It started with skins in gaming and has progressed to digital fashion, which offers a lot more than physical clothing can. From space being created for Muslims in the metaverse to H&M offering a skin recycling service in Animal Crossing, it’s becoming possible for individuals to project their values in the virtual realm.
What can businesses do about it?
Consumers are looking for products that reflect the identities they want to express and as such, innovative businesses could look to design such products. The Unhidden project for example gives disabled people accurate avatars, so they look like themselves in virtual worlds.This concept is also giving rise to a new career path – that of identity designer. Dr Alex Box is one of them: “I see identity design as the next important step to how we communicate and interpret multiple selves in the metaverse.” Consumers are increasingly immersing themselves in the digital world and a growing number of brands are listening and entering this space. Business opportunities abound.
By Faeeza Khan
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Image credit: Polina Kondrashova