Ask anyone you know who their favorite cartoon character is, and they will have an answer for you, possibly more than one. Cartoons and animation are a part of our lives, our visual entertainment, our early identity and frame of reference.
The rise of animation has also entered our living rooms in full force with the video games that people play. More than ever, people get behind an avatar, literally and figuratively, to spend hours inhabiting a character. 60 million+ hours have been spent playing “Star Wars: The New Republic” since its release this Dec 20 -- a staggering amount of time.
According to the Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) 2011 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, 72% of American households now play video games. The average gamer is 37 years old and has been playing for 12 years. It's a good demographic. The ability to be in the cartoon and run the action has become a mode for many -- all you need to earn that passport is an avatar. While we embody our avatars, giving them greater or lesser powers than we have on the other side of the small screen, we ask to be cartoonified in order to join in the activity.
A few years ago VodaPhone created “animated videos” of ZooZoo's -- an ad campaign developed by Ogilvy & Mather to convey different value-added services offered by the mobile phone company.
The videos, while they look animated, are made with people wearing costumes to look this way. Why wear a costume, though? Why not be a cartoon? Consider this as a definite trend for video as we reach into the new year.
Since YouTube's inception an amazing number of hours of video have been watched, and every year there is a Top 10 list. This year for the first time a cartoon has entered not only the Top 10 but the top 5. Nyan is a video game character that flies while you score for eating healthy foods. (That the cat has a Pop-tart body should be an alert to Kellogg.) This might be the nexus of game culture, cartoons and video.
The rise of inexpensive to produce engines such as Xtranormal, Stupeflix, or GoAnimate allows new technology to give rise to animation at the press of a button. It doesn't allow for spectacular graphics, needs good writing to make an impact, and shows a new direction in inexpensive animation platforms.
Whether your avatar is having fun or function is up to you -- when you begin recording that avatar in your virtual world or game, then you are becoming a part of a story and able to do or be a part of the grandeur that was Rome, the Middle Ages, or the far or near distant future.
The game engine platforms of video games and virtual worlds allow a 360-degree view of various, more-diverse environments. These scenes and environments will move more into the forefront of commercial activity as virtual assets also continue to grow. This trend allows marketing departments to take chances, and to offer something very special for small cost. This is a good example of game engine graphics coming of age.
And if someone wanted to start selling those Xtranormal teddy bears next Christmas on Amazon, I think there would be a market for them.