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How the worlds of beauty and gaming are colliding

·3-min read
 (Nintendo)
(Nintendo)

It’s not often that you hear ‘beauty’ and ‘gaming’ in the same sentence. Usually thought of as the preserve of angsty teenagers shouting into headsets, gaming has, for many, developed a niche and inaccessible reputation.

Yet times are changing. Thanks to the world being kept indoors for a year, the gaming community is larger than ever, with 1.4 million games consoles sold in the UK this year, over a third more than in 2020. And, according to a Newzoo report, 46 per cent of gaming enthusiasts are women, while in mobile gaming the number jumps to 63 per cent. With such a large community, it’s unsurprising that brands are keen to jump on the gaming bandwagon.

The idea isn’t new: fashion houses have been getting involved for some time. While Balenciaga teamed up with Fortnite to create looks for its avatars in September and Gucci and The North Face collaborated to create an entire Pokémon Go collection in January, games such as The Sims were way ahead of the curve, with collaborations as early as 2007 when it partnered with H&M.

Now it’s beauty’s turn in the gaming spotlight. From Charlotte Tilbury’s partnership with esports festival Girl Gamer to Soap & Glory’s VR skincare experience, cosmetics brands are teaming up with gaming platforms to tap into new — and potentially lucrative — audiences. Beauty commentator Madeleine Spencer says the foray into gaming is unsurprising. ‘It seems like a canny move, and one that might result in cross-pollination and introduce fans of a particular brand to gaming, or the gaming community to a particular brand,’ she says.

Arden Rose, beauty influencer and Twitch streamer, agrees. ‘I consider both video games and beauty to be artistic ventures so it makes sense that they could be combined to become greater than the sum of their parts. I occasionally get ready with my stream before I start gaming and my audience loves it.’

Givenchy was an early adopter of in-game products, launching virtual make-up on Animal Crossing: New Horizons in July 2020. The create-your-own-island game, wildly popular early in the pandemic, featured Givenchy lip products, foundation and a cheek tattoo of the iconic logo in a time when users couldn’t shop the range IRL, while cult beauty brand Glossier launched its millennial pink hoodie for users to download on the same platform.

Gucci Beauty is the latest to jump on the trend. With the launch of a virtual beauty platform on styling game Drest, users can choose models, make-up and hairstyles, all created to look uncannily realistic on avatars using Gucci’s beauty collection. Lucy Yeomans, CEO and founder of Drest, says there is a huge connection between gamers and beauty enthusiasts. ‘This audience is tech savvy and creatively motivated,’ she says. ‘The number-one driver for users of the game is creativity and experimentation, which is why beauty was the biggest request we had from our players.’

Gucci’s collaboration with styling game Drest (Drest)
Gucci’s collaboration with styling game Drest (Drest)

Reaching new audiences is ideal PR fodder for beauty brands — but what does it actually mean for gaming culture? Andreia Neto, partnerships manager of the Girl Gamer festival, is optimistic about the involvement of bigger brands. ‘Gaming is getting more mainstream; however, a lot of work is still needed for the gaming space to be an empowering and safe space for women. Brands’ involvement can encourage and motivate gamers to feel that the brands they love are part of the gaming scene.’

Arden Rose is equally as hopeful for future collaborations between the gaming and beauty spheres. ‘Drawing more attention and connections between two seemingly opposed industries only grows the pool of people interested in both of those things and gives them legitimacy. I say more power to them — gimme all the games!’

While there’s still plenty of room for growth in the union of beauty and gaming, what it has created is a brand new realm for two entirely distinct worlds to collide — and that can only be a good thing.

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