Character vs. Toon

You say tomato and I say potato.  I’ve been playing online games since their inception. That makes me old, yes it does.  Besides the many a MUD game I used to play, when the graphical online games hit, I was there with my 486/66 and the whopping 8 megs of RAM too. When there were more then 100 players online at once, it made everyone shudder with glee.

Let me find a walking cane…oh yeah and slouch my back…

“Sonny, when I started playing online graphical games we called ourselves characters. What you call toons today.”

In 1995 we were characters, in 2005 we were characters but somewhere around 2006/2007 the character part got lost and now we are suddenly toons. This happened about the same time players started saying “bio” when they needed to take a massive leak. Coincidence? Perhaps.

To me a character is something you create that is not supposed to be like yourself. It’s your alter ego, it’s where you step outside yourself and be someone else for a short time in between work and sleep.  While you are at work you are thinking about your character and of course and since you only get about 4 hours of sleep a night because you need to get to the last level or get that last piece of loot when you do actually crash you do not have enough time to dream before you have to get up for work the next day.

Is a character a toon?

Well since we are talking graphically of course a character is a toon. A toon is short for cartoon, which is what kids are missing out on Saturday mornings these days. They do have the cartoon network, but somehow it just isn’t the same. So yes, a character is essentially a toon. That makes sense.

Is a toon a character?

Ah now that is the question of the day. Do you demean your absolutely feelingless pixelated back of the head you are always staring at for hours a day by making it seem cartoonish? Does it sound like you are less serious about the game? Okay, maybe I went a bit far there. BUT where is the line drawn?

Surely some will say a toon is a character. However, I believe that those that use the toon terminology are seeing the avatar they are playing as just another pixelated funny looking being in a virtual world. While those that call them characters just might have a bit more emotional attachment to the same pixelated funny looking beings.

So I ask you fine gamers out there, what do you call yourself? Are you a character or a toon?

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10 Responses to Character vs. Toon

  1. Gary says:

    I call em toons just because everything is a shortcut these days character is too long to say or type lol

  2. Matt says:

    Character. Always character.

    Damn kids and their high speed internets and their hippity hop music.

  3. Shiloh says:

    Character. What can I say, I get way too emotionally involved in characters (books, TV, RPGs, you name it) and “toon” just seems so impersonal to me. Don’t think my character would like it :(

  4. Julia says:

    I have always disliked the term “toon” and refer to my online persona as a character. I wonder if the use of “character” is more of an old school roleplayer thing. I remember I didn’t start to hear “toon” used widely until I played on a few servers that were not roleplaying servers, and now that so called MMORPGs seem to be less for roleplayers and more for the kiddies (for lack of a better term) I almost never hear any term besides “toon” being used to describe someones persona.

    The word “character” to me harkens back to table top RPG characters, where as “toon” is a word for a digital age where your other persona has no real meaning beyond being a collection of pixels. Toon, to me, is an empty word that would be disrespectful to the personas I have given life to, even if they are only made of pixels.

    I feel old and crotchety now. :P

  5. Mark says:

    I have to say, it depends. I think of them as characters, with different aspects that appeal to me and reflect parts of who I am. That being said, I often call them “toons” to downplay their emotional significance. There, I said it. Wow, I’m a nerd.

  6. Dan says:

    I call them character since I have been calling them character ever since the first mmorpg ever came out. Those complaining of character is too long usually can’t type fast. If they still have problems to the length, then call them char, toons sounds like cartoons.

  7. Nick says:

    “Char” for short is okay, but “Toon” makes me cringe whenever i hear it & yes it does sound like the people who use it don’t really take the game as seriously.
    I also find people with character names like “NsaneSkaer” or “FookUDood” to be really irritating as well & i avoid them, because seeing names like that just breaks the 4th wall & the illusion for me.

  8. Steve says:

    OMG I’m so glad to find people with my opinion, im only 23 but I remember the good old days when a character was a character or char for short, all these people saying character is too long and toon shortens it why not call them char, main, and alt like we always have. I pay people gold on WOW to stop calling them toons. Some little kid that was playing that toonworld game went to WoW when he got a little older maybe 12 years old and started calling them toons and for some reason it stuck i dont know why its the gayest terminoligy for a character I’ve ever seen. IF YOU WANT TO SHORTEN SOMETHING SHORTEN IT DONT CHANGE THE WORD COMPLETELY ITS CONFUSING YOU DAMN LITTLE KIDS

  9. Ceyrileth says:

    I RP in an MMORPG called Forsaken World. I get sick to death of seeing most people call their characters their “toons.” It just strikes me as being overly impersonal as well- and it also makes me wonder if new-generation “gamers” know the difference between a “toon”, which is something that we used to watch on television when we were children and a “character,” which can be either in a book, manga, anime… or game. The shortest forms I find acceptable in an MMORPG is “Chara” for player character and “NPC” for a non-player character.

    But then again, I have been RPing since I was eleven. It started with the tabletop “Gamma World,” then “D&D”. Yes, I have RPed on forums designed for that purpose as well. I started RPing in MMORPGS back in ’95, when NexusTK was released in beta, on my old 486. I remember the good old days and wish they never ended, but everything must change, no matter how we may fight back against it.

    So this 29 year old will just have to grit her teeth and OOCly spout profanities when she sees someone refer to their characters as “toons” or give their characters offensive names such as PrincessSeduction, Healz4U, SuperMage or (insert fandom here) lover.

    I do not think RP is dying, though. It has always been a niche thing- and as such, us RPers are just going to have to continue to put up with blatant stupidity and annoyance when we encounter it. >.>

  10. John says:

    I’m fully sick of toons being used it sounds weak and noobish to call a character something so childish and impersonal if i wanted a toon id buy and play disney games….

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