Gaming has developed a bit of a reputation. If you think it’s mostly sweaty lads shouting into headsets or antisocial teens addicted to World of Warcraft, that’s not strictly true.
Granted, gaming has a fair bit to answer for. It’s been accused of increasing anxiety, depression, obesity, aggression and insomnia, especially in younger age groups. But over the past two unprecedented years, its pros came more sharply into focus. Namely, it offers escapism, fantasy and the ability to experiment, unwind and connect with like-minded people (and like-minded brands).
That traditional stereotype of “gamers”? It’s null and void, as a whole league of new demographics claim a space for themselves within the arena.
During the height of the pandemic, 82% of consumers admitted to playing video games or watching video game content, according to data firm Nielsen, and in the UK, uptake increased by 28%. But, even before the pandemic, female gamers were closing the gender gap.
Research by Newzoo found that women account for almost half (46%) of gamers, while queer and ethnic minority communities are also fighting for more representation. 60% of the adult LGBTQIA+ population play online each week, according to Synchronix Research, and collectives like Black Girl Gamers are heightening Black Women’s voices in gaming. That’s not to say the issues that plagued gaming have been entirely overcome – the industry is still beleaguered with incidents of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia – but communities are rallying to create safer spaces.
Overall, gaming’s remit is expanding, and other industries have caught on to the advantages it offers. Many key players in beauty recognise they have an opportunity to change the face of gaming, ushering in new online destinations for their customers.
“Beauty brands are altering the way they reach consumers,” reveals research from Mintel. “Some are fully immersing themselves within the lucrative gaming world in an effort to drive engagement, maintain or build brand awareness, align with on-trend beauty themes and promote new products,” says the report.
Virtual wellness retreats and immersive makeup moments offer an alternative to the usual gun-fights and online football tournaments, especially in light of the IRL limitations we’ve experienced. “While in-store hygiene concerns persist due to COVID-19, beauty brands can use gaming as a way to allow players to safely and hygienically trial and experiment with their products, using gaming avatars,” explains the Mintel report.
That’s exactly what luxury gaming app Drest is doing with the launch of its Beauty Mode in a collaboration with Gucci Beauty. Alongside playing virtual fashion stylist, users can play virtual makeup artist, too, choosing models, makeup and even hair looks rendered hyper-realistically onto the app’s avatars using Gucci’s beauty collection.
“At Drest, our players are creatives,” explains founder Lucy Yeomans. “Their main motivation is to get close to the product and show what they can do with it. You select the model, the makeup, the hair and submit it for others to enjoy, rate and shop from .”