Facebook’s New Avatars For Instagram Are Cool, Actually

The joy of dressing something up to look like who you are or who you want to be is not just a digital phenomenon. Sahar Wahbeh, the founder of Dumyé, a doll company, told me that avatars are just a newer model of dolls for adults.

“I think it’s important to note that role-play, whether through a doll or an avatar, is an outlet of self-expression and exploration. It’s an opportunity to explore ideas and concepts that might otherwise be considered unacceptable,” she said. “It’s considered art.”

Of course, it’s not just art. Instagram’s new avatars are probably going to become NFTs, based on the fact that the platform literally replied with smirking face emojis when someone asked that exact question. Of course, the platform will try to make money in the metaverse. If the company follows in the path of Fortnite and Roblox, other gaming platforms whose players use avatars, we’ll soon have to pay for unique clothes and features. But hey, maybe they’ll be Gucci!

Gaming was the intro to 3D avatars for many young people, first encountered when playing Club Penguin, Webkinz, and Wii games. Then avatars evolved to play a critical role in the ultra-popular worlds of Roblox, Fortnite, and Minecraft.

Last year, 8 million Roblox players updated their avatars on any given day. Snapchat, which has mistakenly been declared dead many times over when in reality the platform has just pivoted from content machine to chat-based app, has normalized avatar usage via Bitmoji.

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