toon

n. (short form of cartoon; from MMORPGs)

  1. The conduit of a player’s will inside a game, typically an MMORPG. syn. avatar.

While game and virtual world theorists freely use the term avatar, it’s reasonable MMORPG players would adopt toon instead. Not only is it much less serious a word, being taken from popular culture instead of religion, but the relationship to the player is more appropriate for game playing: a toon would be a separate entity created by the player, a character portrayed temporarily if at all, while an avatar would be an extension of the player, suitable for roleplaying. Playing a toon instead of an avatar implies detachment.

Just look at the number of people who reveal their identity in The Sims Online through the realsimsonline.com site. Even there, though, a screenshot and a claim that Toon X is Person Y is pretty slim evidence to go on. For many inhabitants of the virtual world, total anonymity is not enough. —Mark Wallace, The Escapist #34 p12, “Anonymity is Not Enough”

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