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Issue #32 – Playing With Reality

Menno van Doorn
October 06, 2021

“Real Fake” is our take on synthetic media and the follow-up to our 2008 book “Me the Media”. Real Fake 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.

TikTok’s Choose Your Own Adventure

Last week TikTok announced its “storytime tool,” which encourages users to become a part of the brand’s storytelling experience. Instead of just watching a TikTok ad, this “Choose Your Own Adventure”– style format lets users tap to direct the action in the video to shape the narrative and personalize the outcome. This points towards fan-directed-experiences. And it’s exactly one of the points that we are making in our upcoming book Real Fake. Digital technologies enable customers not only to create their own stories, but also to become the main character in these story worlds.

Paris Hilton’s World in Roblox

Paris Hilton’s digital avatar will soon be sliving on Roblox. Paris World, which officially goes live Oct. 6 on Roblox, is described as “a virtual oasis of fun, possibility and, of course, #sliving” (a term coined by Hilton that fuses “slaying” and “living my best life”). The new gaming experience includes massive DJ stages, Paris’ own house, a zoo and, because why not, a private jet, yacht and her own personal island.”

Selfies, Surgeries And Self-Loathing: Inside The Facetune Epidemic

“Photo-retouching technology has existed for decades, and concern about its toll on the self-esteem of women, and girls in particular, is nothing new. But with the meteoric rise of Facetune and a suite of similar apps that put ever-advancing versions of these tools into the pocket of anyone with a smartphone, digitally perfected faces and bodies are no longer restricted to magazine covers or pictures posted by celebrities who can afford cosmetic surgeries and professional photo editors. They’re everywhere in our social media world: all over the profiles of influencers and, quite possibly, your own friends. As a result, the pressure facing today’s young women to look flawless can feel inescapable. We’ve been sinking deeper into this reality for a while now, but it has accelerated during the pandemic, when we’ve spent more time than ever on social media, and when our digital selves have for so long been the only version anyone has seen of us. The result is a body dysmorphia epidemic with increasingly unattainable beauty standards that — at the extremes — defy basic human physiology.”

And it’s getting worse. With apps like Facetune Video, PrettyUp and and PerfectMe it is now possible to edit body shapes on video as well.

TikTok Top Moments

“Inspired by the creativity and innovation of the TikTok creator community, TikTok is exploring the world of NFTs as a new creator empowerment tool. NFTs are a new way for creators to be recognized and rewarded for their content and for fans to own culturally-significant moments on TikTok. The creation that happens on TikTok helps drive culture and start trends that impact society. TikTok will bring something unique and groundbreaking to the NFT landscape by curating some of these cultural milestones and pairing them with prominent NFT artists.”

Epic Games Blueprint For The Metaverse

“The simplest way to define the metaverse is as an evolution of how users interact with brands, intellectual properties and each other on the Internet. The metaverse, to Sweeney, would be an expansive, digitized communal space where users can mingle freely with brands and one another in ways that permit self-expression and spark joy. It would be a kind of online playground where users could join friends to play a multiplayer game like Epic’s “Fortnite” one moment, watch a movie via Netflix the next and then bring their friends to test drive a new car that’s crafted exactly the same in the real world as it would be in this virtual one. It would not be, Sweeney said, the manicured, ad-laden news feed presented by platforms like Facebook.”

We really like this definition of the metaverse. It shows how important the metaverse will become for marketing, brands and intellectual properties. Once people will understand this, than it’s obvious that the biggest corporations of the coming decade will be DAOs that are a decentralized version of Disney.

Building the Metaverse Responsibly

“The metaverse won’t be built overnight by a single company. We’ll collaborate with policymakers, experts and industry partners to bring this to life. […] There’s a long road ahead. But as a starting point, we’re announcing the XR Programs and Research Fund, a two-year $50 million investment in programs and external research to help us in this effort. Through this fund, we’ll collaborate with industry partners, civil rights groups, governments, nonprofits and academic institutions to determine how to build these technologies responsibly.”

Can we really trust Facebook that they will build the metaverse responsibly? Can we trust Facebook as a responsible platform owner? Do we want the metaverse to be owned by Facebook?

Redefining Digital Scarcity

“Society is moving towards a digital world where expressions, creativity, moments, and entertainment are becoming digitized and memorialized on blockchain platforms. While NFTs started out as a niche sector, their evolution has caught the attention and introduced many new individuals to the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. […[ NFTs will transform the way creators offer their goods and services to buyers, or even simply in the way individuals interact with others on the Internet. With the younger and more tech-savvy generation moving offline activities online, we believe NFTs will disrupt and transform the way we experience culture, trends, and interactions in our everyday lives.”

MUST WATCH: Don’t Deepfake David Attenborough

Why you shouldn’t Deep Fake David Attenborough

MUST WATCH: NFTs and the Metaverse – A Market Exploding In Popularity

NFTs and the Metaverse: A market exploding in popularity

MUST WATCH: World Economic Forum on NFTs


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

Director and Trend Analyst VINT | Netherlands
Menno is Director of the Sogeti Research Institute for the Analysis of New Technology (VINT). He mixes personal life experiences with the findings of the 19 years of research done at the VINT Research Institute. Menno has co-authored many books on the impact of new technology on business and society.


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