Pokimane Vtuber debut angers fans of virtual avatars on Twitch

Twitch streamer Pokimane has recently returned after a month-long hiatus and she’s already found herself embroiled in controversy. Her new Pokimane Vtuber model has debuted to give her a different way to do off-camera streams, but some fans are not happy with the development — especially the fans of other virtual streamers like the Hololive team.

If you’re unfamiliar with “Vtubers,” this is a somewhat newer phenomenon that’s largely come into existence thanks to improvements in camera technology. There have been various kinds of virtual avatars over the years, but a new wave of designs essentially lets people portray themselves as 3D anime characters. Some fans of these “Virtual YouTubers” are not happy that a bigger, more popular YouTuber has suddenly thrust herself into the medium.

https://twitter.com/tj99er/status/1305259704084344833

As one might expect, the Pokimane Vtuber situation is a little more complex than that. One must note that streamers and YouTubers have used virtual avatars and on-screen effects of various types over the years, so this isn’t necessarily something new. However, the anime-styled Vtubers see themselves as their own subculture, and some are upset about a more popular streamer entering the space.

Pokimane, for her part, made efforts to work with people in the Vtuber community to get her model created. As one Vtuber points out, Pokimane commissioned artists from within that community, gave them credit, and likely helped introduce this streaming subgenre to a wider audience.

There’s still one critical issue that hasn’t quite been addressed, though. Some comments on a Reddit discussion note that the Pokimane Vtuber debut is missing one critical aspect of what makes virtual YouTubers so appealing — the anonymity.

“[Maybe] I’m wrong but isn’t the appeal of a Vtuber the anonymity/mystery?” read a comment from /u/ChampionsClubPR.

Several people in that discussion and on Twitter note that Pokimane’s debut of her VTuber model is slightly different from the subculture’s norms in that she isn’t playing a character or taking on a new persona. One common example is that of DrDisrespect, a streamer who dresses up in a costume and takes on a personality very different from his real-world self.

“Yeah, part of the appeal of [Japanese VTuber agency] Hololive is that most of the girl’s characters are not normal people,” read another Reddit comment from /u/TheLastSpartan. “The fact that they are not playing as themselves lets them be more creative with how they interact with the audience and each other. This attempt just shows why she doesn’t understand why other Vtubers are so popular.”