As digital lifestyles mature, people are thinking more deeply about their digital selves. In response, brands are facilitating new infrastructure for digital identities.

The Sims is bringing inclusive pronouns into gaming. In May, ‘The Sims 4’ unveiled the ability for players to customize their pronouns in the game in an effort to make the universe more inclusive. Players can type their pronouns into a text box and preview how those pronouns will appear in-game.

L’Oréal’s Nyx is backing more diverse avatars in the metaverse. The professional makeup brand is launching an NFT collection of diverse, non-binary avatars that players can purchase at auction and use in The Sandbox, a popular platform in the metaverse where players can purchase land and interact with others. According to Glossy, the collection of 8,430 NFT avatars represents the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities that make up 84.3% of the population. The avatars were made available in mid-June in support of the LGBTQIA+ community, and all proceeds from the auction were donated to the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

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Fallon, from Dr. Alex Box's Digital Face Couture + Meta Makeup + Metamodels

Dr. Alex Box, identity designer and beauty futurist, tells Wunderman Thompson Intelligence that “Designing identity traverses both the physical and digital.” She focuses on beauty in much of her work, encouraging self-expression and embracing what technology can do to elevate one’s expression of beauty and self. “I see identity design as the next important step to how we communicate and interpret multiple selves in the metaverse.”

“We already have multiple identities living autonomously in our own metaverse of self, parkouring between our social media self, work self, home self, mindful self and many more,” she says. “One way of imagining identity as we move into Web 3 is that our multiple selves will acquire a physicality, presence, or essence; an emotional and thinking 'texture' that will develop and regenerate autonomously through AI learning.”

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Apple State ID, courtesy of Apple.

Digital identification has infiltrated day-to-day activities in the physical world as well. The UK Cinema Association began accepting digital ID cards for movie-goers at associated theaters in May. Apple launched its first driver’s license and state ID with Arizona in March, and stated that Hawaii, Colorado, Ohio, Mississippi and Puerto Rico would soon accept this form of identification as well. Users can pull up the app and use the ID at TSA security checkpoints at approved airports. The encrypted, protected driver’s license and state ID in Wallet “presents only the information needed for the interaction, and the user has the opportunity to review and authorize the information being requested before it is shared,” Apple said in a press release, putting the power of identification and information in the hands of the consumer.

Consumers want to be represented authentically in digital spaces as physical daily life continues to overlap with the virtual realm. Representative, diverse, and personalized digital identification allows people to seamlessly transition between realms and maintain control over their identifying documents and appearances.

Liam Young predicts that the distinction between the virtual and the physical will continue to blur. “We use words like ‘digital’ and ‘physical,’” he tells Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, “but I think that these are really just outmoded terms…We all live mediated lives that are extensions of our digital selves, and our screens have huge consequence in the physical world. To talk about them as being isolated, independent things is really problematic.”

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