Scroll to top

12 APRIL 2024

Welcome to this week’s edition of Culture Wire, a newsletter brought to you by Singapore-based pop culture and lifestyle marketing agency Culture Group.

In this week’s edition:

  • Innovation of the Week: Making FPS games accessible to everyone 
  • Fax, No Printer: Which Y2K trend is taking over TikTok this time? 
  • Regional Round-up: Nostalgia-led marketing, tea talk, and Gen Alpha’s anti-aging obsession 

Innovation of the Week


Developed by audio tech brand JBL Quantum, Guide Play is a free tool that uses AI and machine learning to make first person shooter (FPS) games more accessible for people with low vision. The software, which was developed with the nonprofit AbleGamers, turns in-game objects and buildings into audio cues, allowing gamers to map out obstacles using sound. Customizable settings mean the software can be adjusted to individual needs. Guide Play launched earlier this week and can be downloaded from JBL’s website.


As of 2023, WFP reports there are more than 700 million persons with disabilities within Asia and the Pacific Region. Meanwhile, AbleGamers estimates there are 50 M visually-impaired gamers across the world who want to play games which have typically been inaccessible to them. With Southeast Asia home to an estimated 285.5 M gamers (predicted to rise to 344 M in 2027), it’s not a stretch to say there might be overlaps between these two statistics. At the very minimum, marketers that are developing gaming activations should consider how they will make these campaigns accessible to everyone—and gamers with sight loss is just the tipping point.

Accessibility in gaming and beyond has become a hot topic over the last few years, but there’s still work to do. One of the big criticisms of Sony’s Access controller for PS5, which finally launched at the end of 2023, was the price. JBL Quantum has gone one better by making Guide Play available for free. It’s also available open-source, with the brand hoping that developers will download the code and implement it in their own games.

That practice has become increasingly common as brands strive to show that their accessibility strategies are contributing something real. In February, for example, Starbucks open-sourced its Inclusive Spaces Framework with the aim of improving accessibility in all retail spaces, not just the brand’s portfolio. So when you make improvements to your product or service, don’t keep it to yourself—lean into collaboration and make it available to others. Two reasons: it’s unlikely that one brand will solve society-wide issues solo, and it could help avoid accusations of purpose-washing.

The expectation that brands make the world more accessible doesn’t only apply to global companies like JBL Quantum and Starbucks. Brands across APAC are working to make the world fairer and more equitable: WeChat’s Quiet Mode is aimed at deaf users, while Malaysia’s ZUS Coffee is working from the inside out, teaming up with a local hearing aid partner to provide hearing aids to baristas. And remember Coldplay’s inclusive concerts that included Singapore Sign Language and Subpacs (interactive vests that allow hearing impaired concertgoers to feel music through vibrations)? 

So here’s some questions to ponder: as the conversation around accessibility becomes more nuanced, how will you make inclusivity a central component of your pop culture-led marketing activations? And how can the quest for greater inclusivity inspire more authentic campaigns that resonate with every fan?

Fax, No Printer*

For those of you born before 1997, ‘fax, no printer‘ is Gen Z speak for ‘undeniable facts I agree with’

What’s the latest Y2K trend to be revived?

A. Korean make-up

B. Wraparound sunglasses

C. Vests

Scroll down to the end of the newsletter for the correct answer!

Regional Round-up

☀️ Will this be the drink of the summer? Milk tea brand Macao Imperial Tea just unveiled three new variations of the much-loved Filipino Halo-Halo, including ube, matcha and roasted milk tea. Seasonal flavors aren’t new, but we love how these new combinations show how SEA cultures can be combined to create something fresh. Expect to see more brands move away from global-led trends and instead look for cross-cultural opportunities within the region. 

🚗 With nostalgia still resonating with Gen Z, Hyundai is taking ZEPETO users back to 1970s South Korea to experience the PONY, the automaker’s first independently developed car model. Timeless Seoul is accompanied by offline events at the Bangkok International Motor Show 2024 and Hyundai Motorstudio Senayan Park in Indonesia. Can you immerse young consumers in your brand’s heritage in surprising ways? 

🎻 Regular readers know we’ve been tracking the gaming/orchestra crossover for a while. Now, the concept is coming to Malaysia with Game ON! promising symphonic arrangements from 14 blockbuster video games accompanied by HD videos and exclusive concept art. It’s a reminder that gaming is spilling over into adjacent passion points and that’s creating surprising niches where brands can meet consumers. 

⚠️ ICYMI: US teens and tweens have embraced anti-aging skincare and premium brands like Drunk Elephant. Now, Dove wants them to put down the retinol and pick up the glitter. The brand’s ‘10 vs 10’ campaign includes links to resources that help parents have conversations with young people about image and self-esteem. While the brand has been rolling out purpose-led messaging around body confidence, this could quickly set Dove apart from skincare brands who have found themselves embroiled in controversy.

This Week's Trivia Answer

A. Korean make-up

If you found yourself wondering what’s next after the Y2K trend, this new trend might help answer the question; more Y2K trends. While we’re sure there are Millennials out there who’d rather forget their fashion choices at the time, it seems like Gen Z has no plans of letting go when it comes to reviving the noughties.  

This weekend, TikTok users took to posting themselves lip syncing to Lee Hyori’s “10 minutes” while sporting the 2000s Korean make-up style. Think: big hoops, a glowing tan, sparkly lips, shimmery metallic eyeshadow and flat-ironed hair. 

If you’re too young to remember Hyori – don’t worry we got you! While she kick-started her career through one of Korea’s most prominent girl groups of the late ’90s and early 2000s Fin.K.L, it was her solo debut with the hit single “10 Minutes,” that put her on everyone’s radar – leading to a cultural movement called the “Hyori Syndrome”. And who can forget her iconic clash with Britney Spears

Following this trend, other Southeast Asians just had to jump in with their own rendition – some sharing  iconic 2000s looks from their respective countries, some sharing  videos of their mums – the OG 2000s baddies showing us how it’s really done. While the Y2K trend has gotten the rest of the world in a chokehold for the past four years, this trend definitely hits closer to home for its Asian recognition. 

From Korean skincare having a hand in jump starting the famous Clean Girl aesthetics to now this, we’ll be waiting to see what other Asian trends and culture reach global recognition.

🚀 Over and Out!

Pop culture insights are better when shared. Subscribe, forward this on, or share the love on social media. Thanks for reading!


Your Culture Mavens,

Angela, Catherine, Teri, Twila, & Vicki