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Digital artwork that addresses MENA stereotypes in gaming, the gig economy embraces period leave and social media suppers are prominent among Gen Z.

Gaming art to combat misconceptions of the Middle East

Is this the Middle East? by Rayane Jemaa, Switzerland

Switzerland – As gaming becomes a significant part of everyday life, British-Tunisian digital artist Rayane Jemaa is challenging Western depictions of Middle Eastern and North African cultures in violent war games.

With his graduate project Is This The Middle East? the artist scrutinises the hackneyed stereotypes and harmful inaccuracies that underpin many games set in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. As video games often serve as players’ first encounter with a culture, these Orientalist stereotypes can strengthen negative perceptions and increase prejudice.

‘I realised that the majority of games set in the MENA region are inherently violent games and war games. Even if it is not implicitly stated, we’ll find clichés and stereotypes to remind us that we are in fact in the Arab world or the Middle East.’

Striving for a future in which video games take greater accountability for the depiction of certain cultures, Jemaa’s work highlights the need to address the triggering nature of these games and invites brands to find positive cultural uses for them instead. To learn more about the future of gaming, read our Gaming series on LS:N Global.

Strategic opportunity

For many people, games are powerful portals through which to encounter global cultures. They're also an opportunity to paint more optimistic portraits of communities and regions, whether for digital tourism or learning purposes

These vivid textiles weave in climate data

Temperature Textiles by Raw Color, The Netherlands Temperature Textiles by Raw Color, The Netherlands
Temperature Textiles by Raw Color, The Netherlands Temperature Textiles by Raw Color, The Netherlands

The Netherlands – Design studio Raw Color is capturing complex climate data through colourful knitted textiles. The project, Temperature Textiles, covers temperature change, sea level rise and carbon emissions – three main drivers and results of global warming. Featuring blankets, scarves and socks, the collection uses graphs and colours to denote this climate data.

The collection’s Sea Level Blanket, for example, illustrates the observed and predicted sea level rise from 2000 to 2100, while the socks portray the rise from 2020 until 2050. Presented during Cop26 and Dutch Design Week, the collection uses engaging design mechanisms to communicate complex data and prompt viewers to find out more information about climate-related issues.

Here, Raw Color showcases how familiar visual mediums can be used as tools to effectively raise awareness and prompt action from consumers. While the climate crisis is generally presented as an intangible topic, it’s important for brands and organisations to distill complex and frightening information into accessible formats.

Strategic opportunity

Artists and designers should take cues from this project and similarly use design tactics to communicate complex ideas relating to the climate emergency to drive home the urgency of these issues

Period leave reaches India’s gig economy

India – In a bid to encourage more women to join the food delivery industry, India’s largest online food delivery platform Swiggy is introducing two days of paid period leave for all women employees.

To support women drivers, the no-questions-asked policy lets women employees request two days of paid leave a month when menstruating. Swiggy is also partnering with petrol chain Shell to ensure that women have access to safe and hygienic bathrooms in petrol stations across India while they are working a shift.

‘Discomfort from being out and about on the road while menstruating is probably one of the most under-reported reasons that many women don’t consider delivery to be a viable gig,’ explains Mihir Shah, vice-president of operations at Swiggy, showing how the brand is taking initiative in bringing more women into the industry, something we've yet to see from gig economy services in other regions.

As companies commit to achieving gender equality, they must consider the gendered barriers to entry that exist. To learn more about period-friendly workplaces, read our interview with entrepreneur Sam Moyo.

Period-proof activewear by Thinx

Strategic opportunity

Companies looking to make their workplaces more gender-inclusive should conduct investigations into the key barriers to entry and restructure their businesses to suit the diverse needs of women-identifying people

Stat: Social media is changing the way Gen Z eat

Bon Appétit, Delivered by Grubhub and Bon Appétit, US Bon Appétit, Delivered by Grubhub and Bon Appétit, US

According to the 2021 edition of the annual Waitrose Food & Drink Report, social media is having a growing impact on British dining habits – particularly among Generation Z. The research reveals that 27% of 18–24-year-olds post food pictures on social media daily.

Meanwhile, three-quarters of all Gen Z said they looked at TikTok and Instagram for food inspiration during lockdown, while one in 12 people posted a picture of their ‘tablescaped’ meal setting on social media – or sent a picture to a friend – in the days leading up to the survey. ‘These platforms are the way that people express themselves and share ideas and enjoyment. Food on these platforms is creative, exciting and fast-moving,’ says James Bailey, partner and executive director at Waitrose.

Platforms like TikTok have a major influence on food and drink trends. For brands, there's a significant opportunity to team up with media companies and social media apps to combine the pleasures of food and entertainment.

Strategic opportunity

Grocery stores, delivery apps and restaurants should consider how products and services can be best translated into social media platforms. Aim to design phygital experiences that blend in-person dining with online engagement

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