I often see people calling their survivors 'toons', I've only come across it whilst playing this game and I don't know why but I find it really annoying :lol:

Where does this sodding word originate from?! There is no logical reason I can think of and it drives me mad!


  • MadPuppyMadPuppy Member Posts: 2,831
    edited March 2018
  • MabikiMabiki Member Posts: 1,732
    edited March 2018
    I think the origin comes from old RPG games. I don't know the exact source. I have used it in old tabletop games like early D&D and HeroQuest, after picking it up from some friends, and it was common back when I played World of Warcraft to signify a new character.

    It seems there was an old RPG game with that name: Toon game

    and this thread has some additional speculation on the history.

    From a brief search, there are many people who hate the term as much as you do. Seems hard to pin down the exact origin, but it was definitely popularized with WoW, since it was the biggest MMORPG of its day.

    I kind of like the word myself. I have a few toons I'm looking to level up and re-name right now.

    Further reading

    I think it works a little better in WoW or DnD than it does here, where the phrase "roll up a new toon," makes more sense, but I have no intention to abandon it. In fact, hatred only makes me want to use it more. My latest toon is a Halfling Rogue going Arcane Trickster, but I have several toon ideas in reserve in case someone dies in either of my current games, just waiting for me to roll stats if need be.
  • WellyLugaWellyLuga Member Posts: 3,234
    @Mabiki Very detailed, cheers! I never played WoW so seems I missed it from those days. Hate is a strong word but there was just nothing in the game which would lead people to call them toons!
  • BttlOpenerBttlOpener Member Posts: 993

  • MabikiMabiki Member Posts: 1,732
    WellyLuga said:

    @Mabiki Very detailed, cheers! I never played WoW so seems I missed it from those days. Hate is a strong word but there was just nothing in the game which would lead people to call them toons!

    I aim only to inform, not to justify. I don't think there's a lot of logic to it, just a convention that has carried on to different formats.
  • sicronsicron Member Posts: 105
    Toon was a popular term in WoW. Though, I don't recall the term being used for low level characters only. Meaning, every character was referred as a toon. Might be wrong though.
  • ShadowaceAzShadowaceAz Member Posts: 3,402
    Doing some quick Google-Foo I found this for you...
    Much of this is my opinion and recollection, but as a gamer for 25 years (MMO-gamer since Everquest) maybe I know a thing or two.

    Character vs Toon

    "Character" is the word old RPG players have used to describe their avatar. MOO's, MUD's, D&D, Champions, and many other pen-and-paper systems. Role-playing has an important concept of separation of "player knowledge" and "character knowledge" - what you know vs what your character should know.

    Many RPG players cringe when the word "Toon" is used to mean "character". "My character" implies a connection with my identity (or at least something my identity participates in), while "my toon" is something possessed, disconnected from me. More on that later.

    Pre-MMO History of Toon

    Toon (1984, pen and paper rpg)
    Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988, movie)
    Tiny Toon Adventures (1990, cartoon show) - note, different spelling than "Looney Tunes"
    While these examples don't authoritatively show the origin of the word Toon, they do establish that the word was in use prior to the existence of MMORPGs.

    The Question:

    How did Toon come to be used to describe characters?

    The Realm Online (1996)
    Diablo (1996)
    Ultima Online (1997)
    Everquest (1999)
    Diablo 2 (2000)
    Runescape (2001)
    ToonTown (2003)
    While ToonTown's characters are, in fact, toons, the term has been used in earlier games. My recollection is that the term mainly was used in out-of-game character/account real-money trades. The word "Toon" provides a solid disconnection between the player and what he made, allowing him to sell it without regret.

    Also, consider the character systems of Diablo 1 and 2. You pick your class and then the character's appearance and gender are determined from that. If you are a male gamer playing an Amazon or a Sorceress, calling that character a "Toon" can be a signal to others that you don't identify as that gender. Once again, there is a separation from identity.

    Still, these games all pre-date the rise of the term around 2006. I attribute the rise of the term "Toon" during this period as not belonging to a single game or experience, but instead to the increasing disconnection between player and character identity. This can be due to many MMO players playing second or third games - how many character connections can a player create or sustain?

    This can be due to games becoming more action-oriented (vs role-play centred), there is more focus on what actions this mechanism or "Toon" is capable of, instead of what the character would do/say/feel.

    The Realm Online

    This game was released by Sierra in 1996. It features animated cartoon-like characters. The oldest usage of "Toon" I have identified so far comes from this game (see reference below). Because the game lacked a two-way trade system, scamming was a common occurrence. It seems reasonable to me that the characters created for the sole purpose of scamming would not be called "character", but would instead be labeled "toon".

    References (more to come as I have time):

    neologasm (2006): "Playing a toon instead of an avatar implies detachment".
    Diablo 2 (2004): "gotten this toon killed 5 times"
    Anarchy Online forums (2003) : "roll a new toon" - this is a fascinating mixture of words: "Roll" is from pen-and-paper games where dice are rolled to determine stats, while "toon" is opposed to pen-and-paper - nothing is animated there.
    Anarchy Online forums (2002) "I have a few toons"
    The Realm Online (2000) "Hacker + Cheater Toons are buried here."
    Descensus in cuniculi cavum
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit

  • ADPaqADPaq Member Posts: 437
    I'm in the same boat as you @WellyLuga

    I have been gaming for over 30 years and never come across the term toon, used in a gaming context, until seeing it here. I must admit I'm surprised the term's origins dates back so far as I'd originally put it down to a new phrase used by younger gamers.
  • NubTubedNubTubed Member Posts: 31
    I know from way back in Ultima Online we use to refer our characters aka avatars as toons
  • CBgaming1969CBgaming1969 Member Posts: 1,359
    They all call them toons....
    It sounds cool....
    So I call them toons....
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