Emotes: The Future of GIFs?

From pictures and smileys to GIFs and videos, visual expressions have continually reshaped the way we convey emotions, reactions, and individual nuances in our online conversation.

Sam Kinetix
October 30, 2023

From pictures and smileys to GIFs and videos, visual expressions have continually reshaped the way we convey emotions, reactions, and individual nuances in our online conversation.

The familiar GIFs, celebrated for their universal appeal and versatility, have long been a staple of digital communication. However, a new contender has emerged in the form of Emotes, these short animations of 3D characters that have been popularized by the famous video game Fortnite. In this article, we'll delve into the rise of emotes and their potential to redefine the way we express ourselves in the digital realm, examining their impact on gaming, social media, and self-expression.

The success of gifs

For decades, GIFs have reigned supreme in the world of online communication. Their appeal lies in their simplicity and versatility. GIFs, short for Graphics Interchange Format, are essentially bite-sized animations that capture brief, relatable moments. Users across the internet have employed them to express emotions, reactions, and sentiments in a visually engaging manner.

GIFs are so popular that libraries like Giphy are directly plugged into famous instant messaging services like Whatsapp or Messenger. Such integrations enable Giphy to announce that close to 10 billion GIFs are sent every day to nearly a billion users in the four corners of the world. It's no coincidence that Meta (then Facebook) acquired Giphy in 2020.

Are gifs for boomers?

While it has been one of the leading communication tools since the 2010s, it would seem that the younger generations, and in particular the well-known "Gen Z", have not integrated the GIF into their communication habits. On the contrary, it seems that using GIFs has become an old-fashioned, boomer thing.

The main reason is technological: why should we continue to share compressed videos, with few images and no sound, when we can send videos of optimal quality? The democratization of broadband Internet has enabled the proliferation of video content on Instagram and TikTok, which are now more commonly used by younger users.

As a result, GIFs seem outmoded and less powerful than video memes... until the next revolution!

The future of games & social media is avatar-based

The internet's future is intertwined with the rise of gaming and avatar-based platforms. These virtual spaces emphasize customization, offering users the ability to create and interact with personalized avatars. In these digital domains, self-expression reaches new heights, enabling users to communicate and interact with a level of individuality that surpasses traditional text or image-based communication. This shift toward avatars has opened the door to an innovative way of visually expressing emotions and reactions: Emotes, these short 3D avatar animations used to convey emotions or situational feelings. And it makes sense: how can you find a better communication medium than your avatar, in a digital world?

One of the prime examples of the success of emotes can be found in the gaming world, particularly exemplified by the global phenomenon that is Fortnite. This battle royale game has captivated players worldwide, not only for its gameplay but for its unique approach to self-expression. Within the game, players can equip and use emotes to communicate, react, and have fun. These emotes encompass a vast range of gestures, dances, and expressions, allowing players to convey their emotions, reactions, and personality. Fortnite's success has illuminated the potential for emotes as a dominant medium for in-game communication and self-expression, and we are now convinced that the Fortnite example will spread among the social network industries. As of today, we see already new avatar-based social networks that emerge, like South-Korean Zepeto, and we can expect their users to communicate through emotes.

Emotes are the future of self-expression!

As emotes continue to gain momentum, especially within gaming and avatar-based platforms, it raises intriguing questions about the future of online expression. Emotes offer a dynamic and interactive form of communication that traditional GIFs simply cannot replicate. They can portray emotions and reactions with a depth and realism that resonates with users. These qualities have led to speculation about the potential of emotes overtaking GIFs, particularly in the realm of real-time interactions. At Kinetix, we expect emotes to become the go-to medium for expressing emotions and reactions in digital conversations, bridging the gap between text and face-to-face interaction.

For this reason, Kinetix is currently developing the Emotify feature, which is nothing else but the Giphy of Emotes. It consists of a library of 1,000+ emotes, continuously updated with fresh content based on trends (TikTok, movies, games,...), and it includes a search engine for end-users to browse the library and react directly in their game or digital world with the Emote they want. By allowing users to find the perfect Emote to match their feelings, the Emotify has the potential to become a valuable and widely used tool for digital self-expression and communication.

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