CEO @ Wolf3D | Forbes 30 Under 30 | Creating personal 3D avatars of people for virtual worlds.
We’ve dramatically shifted much of our physical experiences into new digital realms, but how has our physical representation (identity) been impacted and what are avatars doing to enhance this?
Humans have been transitioning from a physical reality surrounded by air to an entirely digital space for decades, but that transition was accelerated in 2020. Connecting with more people, more often, in ways we never imagined is now possible for over four billion people around the world. Awesome stuff, but how do we represent ourselves fully in this new space?
Creating an avatar is all about who you are. Identity. Skip back fourteen years to when you made a legless look-alike of yourself on the Nintendo Wii. It became you out there playing tennis with your friends. Kind of. Jump back to modern day.
It’s 2020 and thousands of performers are hosting bigger concerts than ever before. The lineup on Billboard began to grow in March with artists like Diplo doing digital set specials as venues as historic as the Metropolitan Opera began to go from a physical audience to a streaming service. Several thousand digital performances later and major performers like Glass Animals are still hosting concerts with no “sold out” sign needed thanks to the endless expanse of online hosting.
But where were the concert-goers, ragers, head-bangers, and dance floor enthusiasts in all this? Transitioning to digital ticket sales was marked off the checklist, but making avatars for the attendees wasn’t rocking and rolling just yet.
When Tomorrowland’s internationally renowned festival took place digitally this year, the physical attendance went from 400,000 in 2019 to over 1,000,000 digital attendees in 2020. It would have been insane to see that many real faces surrounding 8 virtual stages as Armin Van Buuren scratched a couple records and blasted through your headphones. The increasingly rapid adoption of avatar creation technology allows concert goers to do exactly that; to put themselves right there at the show – surrounded by their friend’s faces and interacting just as before.
Just weeks before Tomorrowland hosted a record attendance, 12.3 million people stood skin to skin. Dancing. Emoting. Sharing an experience together.
That was enough avatars to have covered the population of Sweden, Finland, and Iceland combined, plus a few extra tourists. And all these created characters were there for just one show.
But they still weren’t quite you.
Developers provided players with prefabricated pieces and they chose what they related to most, but a player’s true identity transformed into an avatar.
That’s why creating an avatar that truly embodies an individual and brings them into a virtual space is so important.
Reality changes, but the importance of identity and recognition do not.
Being as attentive as you can be is key when something is important to you. Whether you’re jamming your way through a concert in your favourite third-person shooter or just chatting with your best friend, you should be there.
A personal experience can only be brought through an extraordinary, personal avatar. Showing up, showing our face, and seeing others make a truly immersive experience. Unlike the fantastical character representation found in most games, it makes sense to look like our true selves at social events, gathering, and other post-physical events. This provides a uniquely real experience with friends, fans, and normal social interaction. No more stitched together, generic avatars.
Full discolsure: I work at Wolf3D, where we bring you directly into the virtual events you love the most. Being able to truly identify with your avatar and find your real self resonating from that personification will allow you to express your character, your personality, and ultimately you just as you would anywhere else. Partners like HTC are helping us bring an endless amount of personalized avatars to people all over the globe.
You’ll likely attend a virtual event over the next year. Thanks to the digitalization of events, games, and hangouts, more people can experience more amazing opportunities and usually at a lower cost. With concerts and games seeing record participants, the world has undoubtedly moved into a permanent, digital venue. There’s no more need for walls, overpriced beer, and two-hour drives. We only need one thing.
Creating avatars that represent how we actually look to bridge one of the largest gaps between physical attendance and digital experience.
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