Virtual Stars Part 2: The Advantages

So last column I explored just why someone would want to make a Virtual Star, that star being defined by the following traits:

  1. The creation of a completely artificial media figure whose image, behavior, story, and personality are made up.
  2. This entity has no single component traceable as a contribution of an actual human being – no single voice actor, artist, etc.  The Virtual Star is an entirely artistic creation that cannot be rendered down to being identified with a single person, unlike an animated character with a popular voice actor or being distinctly modeled on a single human being.
  3. The entity is treated as real in most media produced around it, but it is acknowledged that the entity is completely virtual.

I then explored why I thought that the creation of a virtual star was a viable venture due to culture and resources:

  1. There have always been virtual stars or creations like virtual stars, especially for the youth.
  2. Regular stars have often been fictionalized.  People have come to accept some fictionalization of celebrities.
  3. Reality Television creates stars by mixing real-life and fiction.  This further blurs the fiction-fact boundary.
  4. Games have people used to using technology to produce memorable characters and fans have responded.
  5. Technology allows for creation of the elements needed to create a Virtual Star easily.

So the question then comes: what is the reason to create a Virtual Star?  Frankly I can think of a lot:

Complete Control of The Star: A Virtual Star does not age (Unless it's decided they do), does not go on drunken benders, does not get involved in scandals, does not strike for more money.  A Virtual Star is completely controlled by its owner/creators.

Upkeep is All Technical: A Virtual Star does not eat, get sick, need counselling, etc.  All that's needed is technical upkeep.  There are no missed dates, unshot films, or nervous breakdowns.  (There might be a virus, but then again your Star should be backed up.)

Image Is Everything: With the star's image owned by owners, you can do anything with that image.  No worry about who owns the rights to what, approvals for merchandise, etc.

Demographic Magic: A Virtual Star can be constructed to appeal to given demographics if needed – or altered if needed – for proper appeal.  A "story" can be built around the changes if you want.

Evolution: You can evolve your Virtual Star as needed.  Did they start as a singer but you want to branch out?  Suddenly they're a writer.  Do you want them to suddenly help in education – you can license them out as a mascot in virtual textbooks.  The sky's the limit, though so is your dignity.

Extention: Part of Evolution, but your Virtual Star can have his/her/its life extended with other Virtual Stars.  Give them a brother or sister, a visitor, cousin, what have you.  Give them an enemy o ra nemesis.  Each character can have their own lines, media, and more – and you can keep generating virtual stories and intrigue with them.

Technical Adaption: Your star can easily be translated to use other technologies, media, and more. A  more advanced rendering engine, a better voice engine, a new form of messaging (for informing fans), all can be incorporated into your Stars image and life.

Multicast Personality: That Virtual Star is not bound by physical location.  They can show up in several places at once doing different things.  They can appear as an image on a screen or a projection in one country, than the next. 

Going Nuts: You have a simulated star you can do anything with – the potential for fun, interesting, and silly activities is amazing.  Have the Virtual Star "date" a real person via video, hologram, virtual reality, what have you.  Have DLC for games that puts your star into the mix.  You can just plain go wild – and have fun doing it.  Oh, and make money.

Creative Challenge: Let us be honest here – the idea of making a Virtual Star is fun.  Tell me how many artists, writers, programmers, and marketers would just plain have a blast making one – or a dozen.

Fast Action: Think how fast you could, if needed, whip up a Virtual Star.  No hiring, no searches, just some creative teams and technologists working very hard.

Low Investment: Some rendering tools, some staff pay, and the chance to strike it rich with a Virtual Star.  The investment just has to be lower.

So, yes, I think Virtual Stars are very viable media efforts.  There's plenty of benefits and advantages that, for the right media, they're worth at least considering or prototyping.

Of course they can go wrong, which is the subject of my next column . . .

Steven Savage