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The digital world increasingly feeds into the real world

Gaming and digital innovations are feeding into the real world with the rise of trends from virtual status symbols to mentor and mentee connections

Real life of virtual reality includes buying virtual products to a travel or cultural experience

To many people, gaming and its digital worlds mean kids sitting in front of a computer.

But digital worlds are increasingly feeding into innovations in the real world in four key ways: virtual status symbols, shoppable streaming, virtual culture and connecting mentor to mentee. 

Virtual status symbols

With trends such as sustainable consumption making a bigger impact on our psyche, virtual goods can replace physical goods as status symbols. 

There is a trend of people using their NFT avatars as their profile pictures – 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 open 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 is set to be huge. In May 2018 in New York, the world’s first piece of ‘digital couture’ was sold at a charity auction for £7,500 ($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

Shoppable streaming, or shopstreaming, as defined by Trendwatching, is the merging of online shopping and social connections. It’s appealing, because it combines shopping with entertainment. 

It ranges from hosts and influencers speaking into the camera, responding to questions and comments, to fashion shows and product demos to virtual tours and makeup tutorials, online wine tastings and clothing hauls to electronics auctions and listening parties. 

The trend, which seemed to first take hold in Asia, is now gaining momentum in Europe and North America. Nordstrom, Moda Operandi and Walmart are a few who have tried it.

Shopstreaming is instant, social and efficient. It also allows consumers to get live assistance quickly. 

Virtual culture

Virtual concerts, museum tours, or travel gained popularity during the pandemic. Research has shown that the relaxing impact of walking in nature can be experienced just through watching photos, or videos. 

Examples of entertainment transforming live content into experiential content with first-of-its-kind interactions, are virtual in-game music performances, such as Ariana Grande in Fortnite, Block by Blockwest in Minecraft, and Lil Nas X in Roblox.

Connecting mentor to mentee

There is already a plethora of learning content online. But new platforms are connecting 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. 

It also provides a skills-based volunteering platform for organisations to extend education outreach, and build their brand among the future workforce. Through virtual appointments and video calls, 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.

Lucy Chow is a future-focused thought leader and investor. She is secretary general of the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF), Global Women Leaders Committee, and General Partner, WBAF Angel Investment Fund. This column was extracted from her recently published book, Changing the Game