V-Tubing, A Comparison of the Perception of Anonymity and Media Presence between Europe, Asia, and America based on the Creation of a Virtual Character

first exposee attempt


The term V-Tuber stands for “Virtual Youtuber” and was created in 2016 by an artificial intelligence called Kizuna Ai.
With V-Tubing, a 2D or 3D avatar is shown instead of one’s own face, which follows the movements of the streamer in real time and thus creates the illusion of a non-real person. Using motion, face, hand and eye tracking and special software, entire streaming performances can be performed in complete anonymity and still generate large audiences.

Current relevance

The digitalization of the entertainment industry is progressing steadily and is basically unstoppable, as in most sectors. With the Corona crisis in 2019, the entire world had to switch to online mode, which led, among other things, to the establishment of a new branch of entertainers. However, this constant accessibility and permanent “being ON”, has also led to issues such as “anonymity on the internet” and “media perception” taking on an even more significant status. Various video and streaming platforms have shown that any kind of recording once published on the web can hardly be removed again.
It can be concluded that the internet provides a new generation of entertainers with the biggest stage in the world. At the same time, however, it has no regard for privacy and consequences of any kind for missteps. At this point, virtual streaming circumvents many of these problems.

Personal perspective

In my studies, I deal with new media of our time. For me, V-Tubing is like a kind of real anime and thus links my interest in moving images and my penchant for Japanese pop culture. But it is much more than Japanese-style animated illustrations, it offers the possibility of gaining popularity on the internet while ensuring anonymity and privacy on the net. What seems to sound paradoxical is, in my opinion, a future model for entertainers of all kinds.
Tracking is already used in many live film and game productions to generate body movements as naturally and realistically as possible. The application in live streaming opens endless possibilities for the user in terms of character and content.

Research Questions/topics

For this reason, I would like to deal with the theoretical as well as practical creation of a virtual character, from conception and design of the appearance to real-time animation during a stream.
The main topic of my master’s thesis will be the comparison of perception in terms of anonymity and media presence between Europe, Asia, and America.
How differently do streaming and video consumers react to virtual characters in videos instead of real people? I am concerned with the question of media perception and reaction to non-real streamers. I will also address the question of whether there are certain restrictions or advantages that V-Tubers enjoy due to their anonymity on the internet compared to “normal” streamers or whether it ultimately just depends on the habits of viewers from different cultural backgrounds.

Other possible questions I will address are what exactly a V-Tuber is, as well as the answers to the questions of where the term “V-Tuber” comes from and what streaming contexts of this type of content creator refer to.
Another sub-topic that I will address in the course of my work are the elements of storytelling, such as the background story and personal style of a character, character traits and appearance, as well as his or her talents, and the technical aspect. Interesting here is the use of various tracking devices and associated software.

Due to the fact that I will touch on more and more topics during my research, this pool of questions will constantly change from draft to draft of the exposé until I have finally filtered out the core questions of my work. Therefore more research questions could be:
Why is the amount of Austrian Vtuber lower than in American or Asian Countries?
Why is it so rare that we see Animated Characters acting in real life?
How much will the Vtuber landscape change in Austria in the next 20 years?
How will Influcener look like in the next years in terms of virtual character use?
How will 2D- and 3D character design for avatars influence the urban streaming scene?
In what way will Designer contribute to the development of the next generation of Vtuber?
How high is the benefit of anonymity that streamer get from using a virtual avatar?

Less relevant for me is the topic of self-promotion, sources of income and business related content.

Research method

My main research methods will be literature, interviews and questionnaires.
To pursue my research topic, I will write an introductory theory section on the topic and demonstrate it with a practical 2D or 3D character as a work piece.
To implement this, I will use literature on live streaming, as well as character creation and motion capture. I also want to do some interviews with Austrian vtubers to get a deeper insight into the subject and what it means to perform as a vtuber in Austria (content, character, audience feedback).
In the second part of my work, I would like to test this character in an online published video and a live stream and subsequently conduct a survey of test persons to find out how this form of online entertainment is received. Ideally, I will be able to compare the statements of viewers from different nations and, based on this, draw a conclusion about the differences in perception.
To be able to do a qualitative survey, I will send out pre-designed questionnaires about streaming perception and expectations. I may also limit the survey to reactions to the pre-recorded video to generate a larger number of participants.
The main questions of the survey will relate to the subjective feelings and perceptions of the respondents. But also, the cultural background and data such as age, gender and origin will be part of the data collection.

Expectation forecast

I expect a distinctive difference between the perception the viewers of all three continents subjects.  In my opinion, European participants will be more averse to the concept of V-tubing and American and Asian participants will show greater interest. I base this assumption on the fact that, for example the “personality factor” plays a big role in Austria or Germany. Virtual characters seem too impersonal and robotic. This “modernization” seems to be a bigger aspect in Asian countries such as Japan or big cities in America.

Next steps

  • Creating a first interview draft
  • Defining main research questions
  • Structure master thesis
  • search for literature
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