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VTubers, explained

They are weird and I love them

XTINA GG makes short-form videos for Polygon’s TikTok and Instagram channels, in addition to co-hosting streams and YouTube videos. They joined Polygon in 2022.

VTubers, short for virtual YouTubers, have exploded in popularity over the past few years. These entertainers use face, body, or voice tracking to puppeteer a digital avatar, usually one that looks like an adorable anime character.

The medium was first popularized by Kizuna AI, a character created by the Japanese company Activ8 in 2016. Since then, a handful of agencies have popped up that recruit and foster talent to become virtual entertainers.

Due to its Japanese origins, the majority of VTubers derive their visual style from anime and are culturally inspired by Japanese idol groups.

Despite these niche origins, I believe VTubing is more than just a passing trend for anime nerds like myself. As the technology improves and becomes more accessible over the coming years, VTubing will likely continue expanding to a more diverse audience.

I interviewed several VTubers, including CodeMiko, Nyanners, Projekt Melody, Rita Kamishiro, Shiki Miyoshino, and Luto Araka about their experiences as VTubers. Check out the video to learn about the origins of VTubers and the future of the VTubing entertainment industry.

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