VTuber Agencies: Shaping and Exploiting the Distribution of Knowledge Between Voice Actors Behind the Avatars and Their Fans Behind the Computer Screen (78638)

Session Information: Media and Society
Session Chair: Chin-Feng Lin

Saturday, 25 May 2024 13:20
Session: Session 3
Room: Room 705
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

In 2022, eight of the top ten Super Chat revenue channels on YouTube belonged to Japanese VTubers, virtual entertainers who perform online concealed behind digital avatars. Having emerged at the intersection of platform capitalism and transnational fandom, this new form of entertainment dominates live streaming, mobilizes digital gift-giving, and elicits gendered emotional labor of both live streamers and their viewers. VTuber channels are a composite product that utilizes 2D/3D animated design, motion capture technology, and human actor’s performance including facial expressions, hand gestures, dancing, singing, and most importantly, prompt reactions to fans’ comments and digital gifts. As reported by recent studies, what makes VTuber channels more lucrative than other real-person live streamers hinges on the perceived differences by viewers between the animated avatar and the actor inside the character or naka no hito. The projected distance between the persona of the animated character and the real-person actor attenuates fans’ psychological barriers, enabling them to send lyrics, songs, and money in the form of digital gifts to the characters they watch. This paper examines the elaborate ways VTuber agencies detach actors’ personalities from their avatars while reattaching the same avatars to the persons of fans by eliciting their engagement and participation. In the process, commodity exchanges become transformed into personalized gift-giving. The capacity to shape and exploit the distribution of knowledge among live streamers behind the avatars and their fans behind computer screens is the key to inducing emotional investment from both sides of the screen within a global platform.

Reijiro Aoyama, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

About the Presenter(s)
Professor Reijiro Aoyama is a University Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer at The Chinese University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00