Screenshot: YouTube

If you loathe living in a world where Logan Paul can rake in millions by barking into a computer, we have some good news for you: 3D avatars could very well replace vloggers as we know them today. This trend, wherein your voice, movements, and expressions manifest on a digital onscreen avatar, is blowing up in Japan (of course) and elsewhere, with these virtual YouTubers (VTubers) scoring lucrative endorsement deals.

Yes, this is just like Ready Player One and, to answer your next question, no, this is somehow not porn. A new piece from the BBC dissects the phenomenon, which is being led by an anime-style VTuber named Kizuna Ai who was recently recruited by the Japanese tourism board to lure visitors to the country.

Due to the success of VTubers like Kizuna, mobile app company Gree is, over the next two years, pumping $88 million into “developing virtual talent, creating more live-streaming opportunities, building filming and animation studios, and giving creators resources.” Elsewhere, talent agencies solely devoted to “virtual talent” are sprouting.

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“We believe that human beings need avatars beyond nicknames and profile pictures,” Gree spokesman Kensuke Sugiyama told the BBC. “Although virtual talent is currently only a niche area of entertainment, we believe that attractive 3D avatar characters and their activities in virtual worlds will take people to the next stage of the internet.”

The upside? Less Pauls. The downside? Paul avatars, and Lord knows what the hell those will look like. As you wait for the future to slowly consume you, bide the time with some Animojis on your iPhone. Soon, we’ll remember those the same way we now remember 8-bit video games.

Read of the BBC’s story here.

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