Everything You Need to Know About Avatars with Robby Ratan: Step into the Metaverse podcast: EP20

Everything You Need to Know About Avatars with Robby Ratan: Step into the Metaverse podcast: EP20
đź‘‹ Hi, I am Mark. I am a strategic futurist and innovation keynote speaker. I advise governments and enterprises on emerging technologies such as AI or the metaverse. My subscribers receive a free weekly newsletter on cutting-edge technology.

In this episode of the Step into the Metaverse Podcast, I chatted with Rabindra (Robby) Ratan, an Associate Professor and AT&T Scholar at Michigan State University’s Department of Media and Information. Ratan received his Ph.D. from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, his M.A. in Communication from Stanford University, and his B.A. in Science, Technology and Society, also from Stanford University.

Dr. Ratan’s research focuses primarily on the psychological experience and effects of media use, with an emphasis on avatars, video games, virtual worlds, and other interactive environments (e.g., the road, online education) that include mediated self-representations (e.g., avatars, automobiles, selfie videos).

He is particularly interested in how different facets of mediated self-representations (e.g., self-concept) influence the psychological experience of media use and how different parts of this psychological experience (e.g., embodiment, identification) affect a variety of outcomes, including education behaviours (e.g., classroom performance), health-related behaviours (e.g., food choice), and prejudicial/prosocial attitudes (e.g., gender/race bias).

His work also emphasizes the social implications of media use concerning gender and race-related disparities in meaningful contexts (e.g., STEM fields). In our in-depth conversation, we talked about the role of avatars, including what the requirements and characteristics of avatars will be. We discussed the risk of ending up in the Uncanny Valley, the risk of imposed avatars, and so much more. Tune in and enjoy!


  • [01:35] - How his interest in the metaverse came about.
  • [04:37] - The main characteristics and requirements of an avatar in the metaverse.
  • [07:08] - Why avatars cannot thrive without NFTs.
  • [09:46] - Current platforms that are focused on making avatar creation easier.
  • [12:11] - Types of avatars and the one that will become the industry standard.
  • [16:45] - Dealing with the potential conundrum of imposter avatars.
  • [21:25] - Analyzing the present and future of the direct-to-avatar business model and how it will change the retail and fashion industry.
  • [26:15] - Business models of the metaverse and their implications.


“NFTs are the bedrock of the future economy” - Robby Ratan
“The benefit of the metaverse is the immersion, the user experience, the social presence, or self-presence you experience in your avatar” - Robby Ratan
“The avatar you use will influence how you behave, and this is a potential mechanism for influence that people might not be aware of” - Robby Ratan
“Your avatar needs to track your movements, and aspects of your identity are embedded in those movements in order for it to operate properly” - Robby Ratan

Resources Mentioned:

If you are interested in learning more about the metaverse, you can order my book Step into the Metaverse here.

Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr Mark van Rijmenam is The Digital Speaker. He is a leading strategic futurist who thinks about how technology changes organisations, society and the metaverse. Dr Van Rijmenam is an international innovation keynote speaker, 5x author and entrepreneur. He is the founder of Datafloq and the author of the book on the metaverse: Step into the Metaverse: How the Immersive Internet Will Unlock a Trillion-Dollar Social Economy, detailing what the metaverse is and how organizations and consumers can benefit from the immersive internet. His latest book is Future Visions, which was written in five days in collaboration with AI. Recently, he founded the Futurwise Institute, which focuses on elevating the world’s digital awareness.