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Gaming is often synonymous with entertainment. But Herman Narula, co-founder and chief executive of Improbable, a London-based gaming company, says that’s a misconception — games dominate all kinds of culture. Footballers perform dances that happened first on Fortnite, and gamer verbiage like “level up” is now used in human resources initiatives.
Now, Narula says, the multiplayer games people play have become part of their social lives. Gaming is no longer just entertainment, but a space for experiences and learning lessons. Further, with the growth of gaming, Narula predicts we will see the rise of the multiversal self: people will no longer have just one identity, but many distinct selves within the various game worlds they occupy.
On the latest edition of the BoF podcast, BoF’s Imran Amed chats with Narula about how the notion multi-versal self is driving the rise of virtual fashion, and how brands can position themselves to thrive in the space.
People who start playing games typically don’t ever stop — even as they shift life stages. “The primary reason people remain engaged and keep playing games, especially online and social games, boils down to three key motivations: a desire to be more competent at something, a need to relate to other people, and a desire to self-express,” Narula said.
Games are no longer just something people do to pass the time, and that has consequences related to their real-world significance. “Games are something that the majority of gamers are seeking out doing, and avoiding other activities to go and do, and beginning to contest other forms of spending,” Narula said. “That means that they are where culture is going to be born.”
The opportunity for fashion is real. “I think [gaming] will become not merely a place for brands to go, but a place in which brands will be born, a place in which first class cultural ideas will emerge and begin to populate other aspects of how our society works,” Narula said. But, he warned customers will be able to see through superficial engagement with gaming, so brands must find a way to authentically engage in order to not cheapen the experience of their brand in either realm — the real world or the gaming world.