Authorities in the capital city of Beijing in China are set to introduce new sets of regulations regarding ‘digital humans’, from the very avatar users use at games like Roblox and Minecraft, to more complex ones like computer-generated virtual influencers and VTubers.
Rest of World reports that the new set of regulations are in part related to President Xi Jinping’s 14th Five-Year Plan for Digital Economy Development, including investment to the digital economy, such as the metaverse and virtual reality.
In a government document, the action plan lays out various objectives to improve development and research on ‘digital humans’ in a bid to make them more ‘human-like’.
China’s investment on the digital avatar scene has seen an exponential rate throughout these past few months, mainly accelerated by the pandemic. Campaign Asia has documented various instances where virtual influencers have been used in many China-based campaigns, from launching personal social media accounts to livestream to many audiences to state-run media like CCTV recognizing the talents of virtual idol Luo Tianyi.
In the VTuber scene, Chinese streaming platform Bilibili holds a majority stake at ANYCOLOR Inc., the parent company of VTuber agency Nijisanji. This is the reason why the agency has a special Chinese branch named VirtuaReal and has invited several talents like Vox Akuma to debut on Bilibili as well.
But perhaps the biggest reason these Chinese regulations have been promoted could be attributed with syncing a person’s real-life identity to their digital profile. This, in turn, could be used to suppress any forms of oppression that can be made in virtual spaces. A case study published by AdVox in 2015 notes that Chinese authorities have monitored digital avatars and online usernames in a bid to suppress those that communicate statements that are not in line with the country’s Communist Party.
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