Boundary between Virtuality and Reality: Comprehending VTubing Phenomenon through Posthuman

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2024

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Abstract

When Kizuna AI debuted as the first VTuber in the world, a new Japanese popular culture emerges. In just five years, as a new category of YouTubers, a group of VTubers (virtual YouTubers) is gradually coming into the public eye. Different from other YouTubers, VTubers use a digital avatar to represent their body and response to their audience. By using technologies such as 3D and live2D, VTuber are able to create any characters they want ignoring the limitations of their real-life identity. Through their interactions with audience through digital avatars, some VTubers have gained a large number of followers and earnings during live streaming. Graphics technology and VTuber’s performance create a connection between virtuality and reality. However, since the emergence of VTuber agencies in 2018, the VTubing phenomenon faces several new limitations. The agency’s business contract shatters the fantasy world that VTuber brings to their audience and prompt the audiences to shift their attention from the VTuber's behavior to that of the people manipulate the avatar (naka no hito). The result dilutes or even eliminates the connection between the VTubers and their digital avatar.

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Xu, Danni (2024). Boundary between Virtuality and Reality: Comprehending VTubing Phenomenon through Posthuman. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/31050.

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