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When I was told first about playbys, I was hooked. It didn't seem creepy to me. It was simply casting actors for my stories. And I can do it with 1-2 good pictures, as I don't care for gifs and things. I am known to use less known/ popular singers and actors, and I like it.

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I was 110% confused as HECK when play-by's were first explained to me, and I've always struggled a little. I have this image of the character in my mind. I know what they look like. And then trying to find the proper face to fit exactly is impossible, so I have to compromise, and I frown a lot. I've grown more comfortable with it, and learned to kind of relax my image, maybe look for a face before my imagination goes wild, but I still regret that my werewolf has brown hair and no glasses instead of black hair and GIANT GODDAMN COKE BOTTLES.

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I still find it mildly creepy and I've only ever RPed on boards with celeb face claims. I get it, it's just dream casting but eh, I have mild discomfort over it. The new trend of wanting people to get gifs of their character's face and a multitude of different images is...tedious. It's alright if it's something you like to do for yourself, but as a requirement, it's just tedious.

 

And yeah, finding a face that fits my mental picture of my character is a lot of hard work.

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I find it weird how I can't write a character or a story without finding a PB first????? I've started writing a book and do you know what the first thing I did was? Find faces for all of my characters. I didn't realize until after I had already done it, either. I've been in this sort of community for so long now that it just seems normal to cast the face before I write the character. And yet, as a writer, that feels so utterly wrong. I'm honestly conflicted about it.

 

I have recently tried to be more aware of that fact. I used to snag a face just because I thought they were pretty, or I liked them in x show/movie, and wasn't really invested in that character. Now, I'm sure to figure out the character I want to write first, and then find them a face to fit the persona. It's such a weird struggle to have and I think it hinders more than helps me as a writer. Not to mention the creepy factor, which I totally get too. Like when did I become so obsessed with looks and prettiness???

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It was a big culture shock for me to be honest. I tend to stick around the corner of the RPing world that generally uses illustrations or text descriptions for a character's appearance. And even then we generally acknowledge that unless it's a piece of original artwork you did commissioned from an artist or personally drew, illustrations generally served as an approximation of a character's appearance. Like, I'd say it's somewhere around a 50-70% match as far as the character's appearance is concerned.

 

I don't even call them faceclaims or play-bys; I've always called them "portraits" until I joined community/resource sites such as this or RPG Directory. Because in my book, the above terms imply you're "claiming" a certain game, anime or comic character's likeness to represent your character. Which is IMO, ridiculous. Since for starters, I sure as hell don't own the character used to visually represent my RP character. And secondly, I don't consider the faceclaim's likeness to be very accurate representation (probably no more than 70% match) of my character's appearance.

 

You want a 100% match, or as close to it as possible? Then gotta draw it yourself, or commission an artist to do it if you lack confidence in your own artistic ability. 

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@Sage Sometimes I start with a character and find a face, and sometimes I start with a face (or a voice or a song) and find a character. Inspiration comes where it comes!

 

I guess I don’t feel strongly about faces one way or another. Faces are nice. They give you a quick idea of what a character is supposed to look like, and they make posts  easy to differentiate in threads with multiple characters. I’d be fine skipping on the claiming stuff, but it’s what people do. I always figured that was more about keeping the peace on the board than being obsessive. I still start up new RPs in places like gdocs with no pictures, and that’s cool too.

 

Sometimes looking for pictures of a particular face will get me interested in the person's real life work. I think that’s where it can start to cross the line of creepy, but then I usually end up buying their movies and things. So more money in their pocket.

 

The only real problem I have with using real life faces for characters is that most entertainers meet a certain standard attractiveness for their jobs, and I don’t always want someone that attractive or put together for what I have in mind. Also when I can’t find a picture with the right facial expression for a character’s overall mood. I can overlook a lot of things, but if the expression doesn’t match the mood, I get super annoyed with myself as I try to write. At that point it would be so much easier not to have a picture at all.

Edited by firefly
edit: learning how to @ someone
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Here's my thoughts on it. If I'm playing a canon character that is portrayed in a live-action film or TV show, then face claims/play-bys (whatever you want to call them) are not a problem for me. The reason is because I just see the character there, not the person who plays them. If it's a comic book character then again, I don't have a problem with it.

 

With OCs, I generally prefer to use art work (despite the fact that people complain about people stealing art - I think people's privacy is more important to be honest. I am very uncomfortable with celebrity culture where people become obsessive about an actor or actress and must try to find out everything about them, including their private life and get all het up when they get married or start dating someone. In this case, I understand the problem of face-shipping characters together, etc.)

 

One problem I do have with art work being used is when people use anime, manga and chi-bi art. Apologies to those who are fans of anime and manga in general, but I get a bit creeped out by it. (It's because the girls that are depicted in them seem to have their youth and innocence overly sexualized, as well as not liking the art style in general. Anime and manga is something I tend to stay away from. I know that's not how all anime and manga is done, but I don't like the blurring of boundaries. (Some of the twitter accounts I've blocked were really nasty about this stuff, too.)

 

Finally, it's not easy at all if people want to play child characters in rp because of face-claims/play-bys. Finding art to depict child characters is not easy and what's worse, there is a problem where people would steal photos of babies and young children and use those as avatars and play-bys. As bad as the celebrity obsession is, this is far worse. It impinges on the privacy of the child and their family.

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You guys all have such great insight into this topic. It tells me most of us weren't keen on the idea but had to settle in order to be accepted into the community. It's silly, but I guess that's how communities in general go. There is give and take, and people exclude others (whether intentionally or subconsciously, doesn't matter) who don't conform to the accepted practices. Eventually we all just go with it because there aren't many other choices.

 

@Sage, I don't think it's unusual for a writer to need visual inspiration because even if we didn't use play bys, we'd still use drawings or avatar makers or other things. Some people need the pictures before the character, and some need the character before the picture.

 

This is why I don't think using a celebrity face is entirely odd, per se. It's the obsession we have and the fact that people are looked down upon or don't get as many plots if they don't use them . . . the fact that they are required. If we had a casual approach to them, it wouldn't bother me.

 

Examples of a "casual" PB approach include the following:

 

- Using celebrities or drawings or written descriptions or stock photos as desired.

 

- Not having a face claim. People just use whatever they want, and if there are doubles, oh well.

 

- Not being so strict about two people using the same face.

 

- Not being strict about age of the PB relative to the age of the character as long as it looks somewhat appropriate. (ie, drop the 5-year rule.)

 

- Allowing other inspirational pictures for avatars, mini profiles, templates, etc. For example, the avatar is the image you choose, but the other pictures are ocean scenes because they inspire your character or link to your character's past.

 

I think what @Icewolf said about child characters is interesting because I believe that if we weren't so obsessive, it wouldn't be a problem. We have enmeshed our characters with the celebrities to the point where sometimes it's hard to distinguish them from each other. I can see how some people see that as creepy. When it comes to young children, I tend to err to stock photos. Partially because I understand that some people think it's weird and partially because stock photos can be used pretty much everywhere and people who submit their kids for that should understand. Also, I don't obsess over child character PBs or write them in sexual situations, so attaching a random picture doesn't bother me as much.

 

Also, like @Icewolf, I don't like anime or manga art. Most of it at least. Unless you're on an anime or manga site, characters need to have a somewhat realistic depiction. The giant eyes and crazy hair and (ugh) lack of chins (I mean, c'mon, they're mostly these weird little nubs on the bottom of their mouths or entirely gone) aren't realistic to me. Like if someone tries to draw their character and that's the best that you can come up with, that's okay, but using Sailor Moon to represent your twenty-five-year-old cop in a real life city is just weird. I'll forever just see Sailor Moon anyhow and not your intended character.

 

Which, while I'm rambling, brings me to another point. Some people make their characters have the same personality of the celebrity they're playing. Or they use pictures of the celebrity in costume for a famous role, and then I can't not see them as that character. For example, if you use Johnny Depp as a pirate, I'm going to see Captain Jack Sparrow instead of Tom the Stowaway. I know this can't be avoided, but when we are forced to choose a PB, we don't always have a choice.

 

@Kittenmitten, I have photoshopped PBs because I couldn't find one that fit my character. Once I played someone who was physically disfigured (think Phantom of the Opera style) so I photoshopped some burn marks and other deformities on him. It wasn't the best, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. If you aren't good at Photoshop or you don't have the program, you can probably find someone to do it for you.

 

@Lawman, what's been your experience using PBs to be "like" your character but not fully represent them? I know that many people believe otherwise, so I'm wondering if you've had many conflicts. (Once someone called my character short and I was so confused. The PB IRL is very short for a dude, so the person assumed that my character was, too. It never occurred to me that people might view the musician I used as the character himself. I'm sure she wasn't the only person who had this view.)

 

@Kit the Human, I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds hunting for so many pictures tiring.

 

@Elena and @firefly, would you ever consider not using celebrity play bys? I like the insight into facial expression. I don't consciously choose characters based on that, so it's interesting to know that it's a deciding factor for some.

 

Well this post is long enough. Ha.

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I would not use CELEBRITY playbys in some cases if stock models matched. Sometimes I am looking for an expression too, and when I choose an actor, it's first and foremost not 100% likeness to my character, but about 70% and the differences are noted in my bio (I usually take only the face in consideration, and the height or the skin tone are my choice, not a copy of the actor's. Also the eye colour might differ). When I see an actor ressembling my character, it's not the actor in any movie, but in certain movies, or the singer/ model/ sportsperson/ royalty in a certain photo or two. This is the expression I am looking for, or the age, or the... character.  I have asked for photoshopping PBs for scars and so too (I can't).

 

I wouldn't mind if someone else used another picture of the same actor, at another age and from a different movie, for their character. If my pirate looks like Jack Sparrow, your smuggler can look like Edward Scissorface or like someone else older. I hate the 5 years rule too, as I usually choose pictures from the youth of actors/ singers now old or deceased. And I find good when others use deceased actors too, because it means someone still reminisces them and would cast them in another story. And those who hadn't seen their movies/ songs look for them.

 

I have used child playbys too (and not in sexual situations anyway - and I see nothing wrong in it, since on children's books there are photos of children), usually young actors who are now of age. My usual choices were actors who had portrayed children in Oliver Twist/ David Copperfield/ medieval dramas. For birth announcements (not playbys, but one time announcement) I used professional photographs of babies - like this.

 

I would never use drawings of any type (cartoons/ anime or something else), because I like the reality of human faces. I am not writing a cartoon, I am writing a movie-like story in my mind. There are real people (actors, singers, models, sportspeople, TV people, royalty) who are casting the characters in my mind, not cartoons. 

 

I don't think it's unusual for a writer to need visual inspiration because even if we didn't use play bys, we'd still use drawings or avatar makers or other things. True. Writers have full pinterest boards in their inspirations for books. ANd most of the times they don't use drawings, avatars or celebrities as inspiration, but real people around them. Just that we don't know who exactly inspired that character.

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6 hours ago, Uaithne said:

 

@Lawman, what's been your experience using PBs to be "like" your character but not fully represent them? I know that many people believe otherwise, so I'm wondering if you've had many conflicts. (Once someone called my character short and I was so confused. The PB IRL is very short for a dude, so the person assumed that my character was, too. It never occurred to me that people might view the musician I used as the character himself. I'm sure she wasn't the only person who had this view.)

 

Well, I obviously can't say for anybody else here seeing how I'm a fan of anime/manga aesthetics. But I tend to prefer stylisation over realism where illustrations are concerned. But in utilising the likenesses of an established character as an approximate (rather than exact) representation of a RP character's appearance means I generally tend to have a detailed text description of my character's appearance on their profile as well.

 

Basically, to put it in one way is that my character would share a number of visual traits with the character in their portrait. You could say it boils down to how one interprets the character's portrait. Like in my case I tend to distill the portrait down to the RP character's most outstanding appearance traits, rather than taking it at face (yeah, lame pun I know) value. For example my Tamamo No Mae avatar on this site, if used as a character portrait basically reads as "magenta-haired kitsune lady" in my mind, rather than the actual character.

 

So yeah, the RP character is basically a fox lady with magenta-coloured hair in elegant Japanese clothes - but then that is where the similarities end, and the text descriptions come in to fill out where does my character stand out from her portrait. I.e. "Kind of looks like X, but with... (insert details)".

 

And yeah, I've certainly seen my share of conflict before, mostly when folks I'm threading with take the character's portrait at face value. Like, thinking my character dresses exactly like the way she does in her profile portrait, when in fact in my opening post in her RP thread I specified what she was wearing. Don't just rely on portraits, people! Read my RP posts! That's more important.

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54 minutes ago, Lawman said:

 

I've certainly seen my share of conflict before, mostly when folks I'm threading with take the character's portrait at face value.

 

Oh man, I just did this pretty recently. I mentioned my character noticing eye color, and totally went off the picture. Then afterward it occurred to me that I really should have double-checked. So I went to their character bio, and, of course, it was the wrong color. *shakes my fist at the ceiling*

 

@Uaithne  I've used stock photos before. I haven't used illustrations, but I wouldn't be opposed to it.

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When I rped over ten years ago, there certainly weren’t much PBs. Yet on one site I was on the admins were cereal creators, picking out the latest trendy model and having an image link in their apps. There weren’t even mini profiles back then, so you wouldn’t be seeing this image at all, but they had to create yet another character, and would joke about it in the cbox equivalent. These were women about my age now too by the way (early 30s).

 

On my own site that I had for about six months, I was one of the only ones to have a playby. Probably an equal amounts didn’t. If you don’t want to use one, you can find a site where they aren’t used that much or create one. If you want to use stock images, use stock images. I’m sure you can find someone here who can create you a mini profile that has no inner image. I thought it would be cool to have a 1920s circus sideshow/vaudeville site where I would simply give you resource images of actual performers from that era. So your playby instead of the latest Hollywood actor would be an actual sideshow performer from around the 1920s.

 

When I came back to the rp world after an almost ten year hiatus, then I saw the playbys, but again, the behavior was already there. Now it was simply open with more access to people because of image hosts and the like. I used to see those two admins squeal and pick ship all the time. I also used to see them create a character, never rp with them, drop them, and create another character using the new face of the week. Absolutely none of this is new.

 

Playbys are perfectly fine on their own. I personally tend to stay away from Hollywood for the most part. I think that’s really the main problem, people who never outgrew that obsessive teen idol fan aspect of themselves, like they’re still thirteen and obsessing about Justin Timberlake. I hated those kids when I was a kid.

 

Guess what? I don’t have to write with them. I don’t have to join sites where that behavior is common. I don’t have to accommodate those people in any site I create.

 

I would join an animanga site as I do like the animanga aesthetic…from the 80s. That’s my main problem really. If I join a site like that, I would probably like to use a character from like Aura Battler Dunbine, Goshogun, or something more modern with a similar style like Maria-sama ga Miteru. I would stick out like a sour thumb. Most sites I’ve seen go for the moe blob look.

 

Anyway, with playbys I tend to search what I’m looking for by ethnicity or nationality. I’ll do internet searches for ‘middle age Japanese actresses’ or ‘up and coming independent rappers.’ As a result, I’m pretty much the only one with a lot of the faces I use despite some of them being quite popular in their respective nations. Most people just stick to Hollywood and the same trendy this week faces. For a group that claims they’re so big on creativity, a lot of people have a hard time with thinking outside of the box.

 

I’m actually a bit odd regarding playbys in that I’m reluctant to show some of the faces I use or have used because I want people to look at ‘Turkish actress in her 30s’ and see my character and only my character. I don’t want the faces I use to get trendy because then you’ll start to think about some other encounters with people you’ve had using said image. Basically, I take a character actor approach, the images that I use should have as little to no baggage as possible, and should ‘morph’ to the character I want to create. If you see “that’s celebrity x from show y” instead of my character, I feel like I’ve failed.

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20 hours ago, Uaithne said:

This is why I don't think using a celebrity face is entirely odd, per se. It's the obsession we have and the fact that people are looked down upon or don't get as many plots if they don't use them . . . the fact that they are required. If we had a casual approach to them, it wouldn't bother me.

 

Examples of a "casual" PB approach include the following:

 

- Using celebrities or drawings or written descriptions or stock photos as desired.

 

- Not having a face claim. People just use whatever they want, and if there are doubles, oh well.

 

- Not being so strict about two people using the same face.

 

- Not being strict about age of the PB relative to the age of the character as long as it looks somewhat appropriate. (ie, drop the 5-year rule.)

 

- Allowing other inspirational pictures for avatars, mini profiles, templates, etc. For example, the avatar is the image you choose, but the other pictures are ocean scenes because they inspire your character or link to your character's past.

 

[...]

 

@Kit the Human, I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds hunting for so many pictures tiring.

 

 

 

I wish the kind of relaxed approach that you're proposing was common on RPs. There's no need to prevent characters from using the same celeb because the vast majority are actors. And actors (gasp) look different depending on their role and their age. I mean, compare Nicole Kidman in The Hours to Moulin Rouge. Or as @Elena, Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow to Edward Scissorhands. They're worlds apart. I think that quite naturally, most RPers will have a look at what avatars are being used and make sure that their's are not a carbon copy of what someone else is using. And then as you say, just let people use what they want. It really doesn't matter. You do you and all that jazz.

 

The face search is worse for women because photoshoots and movies often sap the life and personality out of them. Y'know, you just gotta remove their pores. Gotta photograph them looking soft and/or feminine. Male photoshoots tend to have more character and life to them. (IMO)

 

@Elena @firefly ditto on the expressions thing. It's probably the number one thing I'm looking for, an expression that just nails the personality.

 

I remembered one of the reasons why I often get so uncomfortable with face claims. Part of the culture around them is talking about how attractive some of them are. Which is perfectly fine and I'm perfectly comfortable with....so long as it's with friends. Hell I might bring it up because it's a stupid silly way to bond. But when it comes to strangers the conversation is often very sexualised and is commonly about men. Now, of course I can talk that talk but half way through that kind of conversation I start to think, I'm back in the closet aren't I? How do I get out of the closet without making it seem like I'm going HOMG how DARE you mention hot men in MY presence?! -lights bra and starts slapping you with it- 

 

Further to that, there have been that times I regretted a face claim because there were some RPers who wanted to RP with him solely because of his face, and not because of who he was (and he was a son of a bitch. Not romance material. At. All.) 

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Following this discussion so far, I just changed my Face Claim thread to "Castings" and I left instructions for people who wish to use stock photos and drawings.  Celebrity claims are first and foremost because I know that's what most of people, myself included, will use.

 

@Kit the Human, go ahead and talk about hot women.  I talk about both.  Don't care.

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