The Age of the VTuber
Digital avatars are perfectly designed to get into your head and your wallet.
The most famous personalities of the digital age in the future may not exist in a physical sense.
If you’re not sure what a VTuber is, let me fill you in. VTubers are digitally created anime-inspired characters that have their own channel and following. They may be animated by a single designer or an entire team. They have their own avatar, quirks, and personality.
They are here amongst us.
The avatars operate under the concept of Kayfabe, also seen in the professional wrestling world. Essentially, they are “Real” and inhabit the same world as us. The enjoyment of these characters involves suspending the belief that they do not occupy the physical world.
There are currently over 16000 active V-Tubers. The number surpassed 10000 at the start of 2020. The popularity of V-Tubers has exploded since COVID; the pandemic led to more people being stuck inside naturally with more free time to explore new things.
Just ask Kizuna AI who’s subscribers now rank in the tens of millions.
These characters hold a particular appeal in our digital world. Limitless in energy, wit, and enthusiasm and free from physical imperfections unless chosen as a gimmick. They don’t experience personal problems, ethics, guilt, or cognitive dissidence delaying creative work. They believe what they are scripted to believe, and they sell what they are created to sell.
When I first heard about VTubers, the first thing that popped to mind was an old black mirror episode called The Waldo movement.
In the episode, an animated character named Waldo created an animated character to entertain kids and becomes the center of political controversy. His crass humor and larger-than-life persona make him extremely popular and able to target a political figure who can’t argue back on the same footing.
As the actor who played him became more and more disenfranchised with the use of his character, he was eventually replaced, leading the character to be taken over to nefarious ends.