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Issue #12 – Playing With Reality – The Great Online Game 🚀🔮🌟

Thijs Pepping
May 24, 2021

“Playing with Reality” is the title of our upcoming book on synthetic media and the follow-up to our 2008 book “Me the Media”. Playing with Reality is about how humans continuously manipulate reality and how new digital technology tools enable us to go one step further in this ancient game. This includes modern phenomena like conspiracy theories such as QAnon, Deepfakes, and fake news, but also virtual humans such as CGI Influencer Lil Miquela and virtual worlds like Fortnite.

The Great Online Game

This weekend an article in the Dutch newspaper NRC caught my eye. It raised IMHO some very important questions. Are we witnessing the rise of a bizar new meme economy? New York Times is already talking about the YOLO FOMO LOL Economy. The big question behind this all: Are we all playing a great online game?

“We now live in a world in which, by typing things into your phone or your keyboard, or saying things into a microphone, or snapping pictures or videos, you can marshall resources, support, and opportunities. Crypto has the potential to take it up a notch by baking game mechanics – points, rewards, skins, teams, and more – right into the whole internet. The Great Online Game is free to play, and it starts simply: by realizing that you’re playing a game. Every tweet is a free lottery ticket. That’s a big unlock. Anyone can play. You can choose how to play given your resources and skills at the current moment. You can level up fast. Financial and social capital are no longer tied so tightly to where you went, who you know, or what your boss thinks of you. This game has different physics and wormholes through which to jump. It’s exponential instead of linear.We’re all playing a Great Online Game. How well we play determines the rewards we get, online and offline.”

The Rise Of The Appuccino

In the beginning of May a tweet went viral. In it was a photo of a complicated custom Starbucks order: a caramel crunch Frappuccino with 13 customizations, including banana syrup, cinnamon dolce topping, and seven pumps of caramel sauce. These complicated customizations are a direct result of TikTok. “The biggest contributor to the rise of the Appuccino is TikTok, where customized drink suggestions go viral and there are Starbucks influencers (and even employees) who show off the drinks they make.”

The NFT Gold Rush

People are still trying to understand the deeper implications of Non-Fungible Tokens. Are they a the new internet bubble or is it the “the financialization of everything”?

“No one quite agrees on what this gold rush means. If you ask hard-core champions of Bitcoin — the often-libertarian “crypto natives,” as they call themselves — NFTs presage the future of digital property. They’re a glimpse at a coming day when people spend their income on digital items they can trade, resell or hoard as an investment; when government will lose its unique power to mint currency and protect property, because people will instead trust the implacable math of blockchain networks.”

The Age of Social Enlightenment

Superman Henry Cavill has something to say on his Instagram account. Lately he and his new girlfriend have been harassed online and cancelled. Not because he has a different view or an extreme opinion, but because he is famous. It’s a warning that things are getting out of control online and it has to stop!

“We are living in an age of social enlightenment. More and more, people are realising that their views may have been blinkered and that they need to expand them to encompass others. So, to you out there who are expressing your disdain and showing your displeasure through a surprising variety of ways, it’s time to stop. I know it can be fun to speculate, to gossip, and to dive into our own personal echo chambers on the internet, but your “passion” is misplaced, and it causes harm to the people I care about most. Even your most conservative of negative assumptions about both my personal and professional life just aren’t true. Let’s embrace this age of social enlightenment together, and move forward with positivity.

Enhancing Photorealism Enhancement

It’s the world turned upside down. Images from the game GTA V are interpreted by an AI that converts them into realistic images, as if they were filmed IRL. Fake has become the new real.

Enhancing Photorealism Enhancement

Join Our Upcoming Reality Show

On the 15th of June 2021 we are organizing our yearly summit. This year we try to answer the question how digital technology is changing our relationship with reality. So if you want to know more about deepfakes, virtual humans, cgi influencers, synthetic media, AR, VR and mixed reality, please register yourself. And it’s free!


Playing with Reality is a weekly newsletter in which SogetiLabs’s Research Institute VINT examines the future where synthetic reality becomes part or our objective reality. We investigate the impact of new technology on people, organisations and our society. If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact us. You can reach us at

About the author

Trend Analyst VINT | Netherlands
Thijs Pepping is a humanistic trend analyst in the field of new technologies. He is part of the think tank within SogetiLabs and in his work he continuously wonders and analyses what the impact of New Technologies is on our lives, organizations and society.


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