Consumer technology companies building avatar products lack strong art direction. There is little devotion to the art of building great characters. The focus is around scale.
(I’ll preface this with he was a turd) but where are the John Lasseters at these companies? The creative leaders who focus on soul.
When you look at a lineup of all of the characters generated by these avatar startups, each one seems closer to each other rather than further away from each other. Everything is a blur. There is nothing remarkable about them. They all look like shrek background characters. They feel like jib-jab on steroids. They are not diverse. Diverse doesn't mean hitting shuffle and calling it a day.
Characters anthropomorphize memes. Computers are capable of doing the fantastical and impossible, so why are we seeing characters which stray mere hairlines away from reality?
It’s a top down issue. There’s a lack of imagination and domain knowledge around what makes for great characters. The artists at these companies are mere 4th and 5th rung employees instead of stakeholders. They're controlled by colonizers who managed to raise a bunch of capital.
It’s not enough to say, eventually we’ll care about richer, more expressive characters with dynamic range. Right now we’re working on a system.
This is what literally everyone in the avatar space is saying, so nobody is really ahead. It’s a premature optimization.
If this reflects the foundation, the important qualities will never be prioritized, and the efforts quickly devolve into a race to the bottom. That tends to be the case when it comes to scale.
Instead of trying to shit out a large volume of avatars, what if we focused on channeling the strongest, most iconic qualities of the beings these characters are supposed to represent? Amplify the best qualities. If we're trying to upload ourselves, should we not create a better iteration of ourselves?
Do you want people like Zucc and his wannabes to define how people are represented in virtual space, or someone with a decent haircut? The best people to guide this vision are artists. If we hire them and give them leverage, they will show us things we could never imagine. They are the masters of human expression and empathy, and we need them more than ever.