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Metaverse is simply an over-heated phrase for media to play upon with. We can call it Meta-Rush! The media hype level is just too much under the intentional exploitation of international conglomerates and local news followers in almost every country. Instead of describing an uncertain future, I would like to focus on what is currently do-able and executable to reach to this new world.
Metaverse is just an empty space, aka wasteland, without lots and lots of creative virtual human!
In one of my recent conversation with industrial friends I used the above phrase to describe why everyone is missing the point if you only follow the thinking path of global social media company. The world, old or not, actual or virtual, needs to be consisted with lively human. And such vivid individuals won’t be the canned- product generated from some AI powered cloud free service. And this does provide an extremely good entry point for smaller but super creative teams or individuals.
Let’s again exam the current status of the industry. Tools for making 3D virtual characters are crowded, ie Red Ocean already. Just look at Metahuman from Unreal, Vroid Studio from Pixiv Japan. One can even go back to the good old fashioned modelling tools like Maya or 3DMax. Production companies are even more congested, due to the past build up in animation/vfx outsourced from major studios from East and West. Yet, surprisingly, it is hard to locate the kind of companies, start up or well-established, who know just how to nurture a virtual human from nobody to become well known Social Celebrities. With the only few exceptions maybe from Japan who have positioned themselves as the Talent Agency for VTubers, aka virtual human. They have accumulated the knowhow of achieving getting tipped by Superchat from their live performance on Youtube. Top ranking VTubers can pull in above half a million US$ just from tip, without counting their typical incomes like advertisement or selling image stickers etc. The rest of the world are playing the catch up game still.
Another important aspect of virtual human is cross borders, a phenomenon duly reflected from the followers of some well known Japanese VTubers. Over 70% is non-Japanese from overseas. Borderless is also a speculated feature of Metaverse. It’s highly recommended, for any creative teams interested in virtual human, to add cross cultural elements into your creation. New immigrants from other culture recently settle in your country will be a strong help. In addition, will highly recommend to equip your team with software engineer who happens to be involved somehow with animation or game engine background. Quite a few new features in Metaverse will need the coders’ assistance to make new things happened fast. Cross cultural elements and coders are two strong competitive edge for those who interested to join the rush to Metaverse.
So far there is no know industrial clusters for virtual human. If some country can provide meta-friendly environment, they will be more likely to obtain an upper hand during the future competition.
Legal status for virtual human Unlike a natural person or incorporated company, virtual human does not have the rights or obligations determined by law in any country. A suitable legal status for virtual human will speed up the industry development progress for sure. We can even utilize the registration process like IMEI for mobile phone, each mobile phone actually gets an IMEI number before leaving the manufacturer’s door steps. In this case we can still retain the freedom for creativity without lost in identifying who the offender is like some known criminal cases by using Deepfake like technologies.
Banking for virtual human With the legal status of virtual human resolved, banking is actually not a major obstacle. We can even utilize the current 2D barcode payment system in the physical world right now. Reading a 2D barcode in a 3D virtual world does not pose any technical difficulties. In the long run, if crypto currency does survive to be accepted by the world, virtual currency will speed up the Meta world development ,of course.
Free port in Metaverse Not sure which country is going to do this first. Clearly such free port should be opened to all virtual humans. Any virtual human can come forward and register as a citizen, to be recognized with a certain right and obligation. They get to provide their service or creation in exchange for real cash now or virtual currency in the future. Next thing conceivable is a money exchange service naturally. In this case the virtual human economy can very quickly reach a sizeable scale.
In conclusion, the competitive advantage for any country in the time of such huge change can be achieved via swift action of the entire society. We already see Korean government comes forward and mention they want to create K-verse, which is understandably trying to use their existing advantage from K-pop to obtain early success in Metaverse.
Christopher Chen
Chairman, Taiwan VTuber Association
Founding Director, Asian Virtual Human Association
VTuber, 虛擬人跟虛擬製作的相關議題還需要業界跟學界持續耕耘,此專題為收攏個人過去相關文章而立!
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