When I was out visiting uncreativity
and Cassie with lasafara
, the topic turned to roleplaying. Perhaps not surprising, since UC and Lasa are both RP buddies of mine. And UC mentioned how she couldn't find a roleplaying game she liked with rules she could have fun in. Her great nemesis? PBs.
For those of you who don't do journal-based freeform roleplaying, a 'PB' is short for a Played By. Basically, take an actor or musician or model and say 'this is what my character looks like'. Since games using a journal/community format have icons, it helps when you can add back in the dimension of 'facial expression' as you type -- if you are happy, you use an icon of your PB smiling, and so on. A lot of people playing book characters, or original characters*, will pick up a PB to serve as their 'face'.
But some multi-fandom games use it as a way of (inadvertently) setting what kinds of characters can play. For example, a game made bad_rpers_suck
because it required icons from the source, to the point where the mod said 'if you can't do this, the character is too minor to play' -- so any character who wasn't from a visual media (or one with a visual adaption) was SOL.
Many other games require a PB for any character not from a live-action TV or movie series -- so book, comic book, video game and animation characters. To preserve aesthetic harmony or something. So, rather than use the millions of perfectly good Excel icons she had, UC would have to find a fair-haired Japanese girl that looked like Excel and could pull off a lot of the crazy expressions Excel does.
What I didn't mention to her is that when I see these things, I have the urge to fire up Photoshop and go looking for public-domain photos. I'm not talking 'tint a pigtailed Japanese girl's hair pink to play Chibi-usa**'. I'm talking 'find photos of frogs, salamanders and catfish and photoshop them on actor-wearing-armor's head to play Frog from Chrono Trigger'. It's not that I don't (or can't) play normal humans, but it strikes me as a bias that needs to be exposed***. Or I resent being told that Spock (or, hell, Jar Jar Binks or the dragon from Eragon) could be played, but Zelgadis Gryewords or Mog couldn't.
Or I'm just a closet troll.
(It does make me want to get together a group of people playing unlikely photo-realistic characters. Pet monsters, fantasy critters more complicated than elves, aliens... I'll even do all the Photoshopping...)
* And who can't draw. Most of my originals either get my drawings or a mix of drawing and PB icons.
** I don't think I'd play Chibi-usa anyway -- my Sailor Moon is rusty, and I preferred other characters. But she is probably the most famous pink-haired character in anime.
*** Granted, a lot of these games have the assumption that you all can pass as normal humans. Which is all right, I guess, but not for me. I like it when I'm playing Tailmon and make new characters go 'talking cat...'