Anthropomorphism is the concept of taking any non-human item, whether it be an animal, inanimate object, or a conceptual idea, and personifying it with human characteristics. These characteristics in turn may either be physical or otherwise. Anthropomorphism has been depicted throughout the history of mankind in mythology, storytelling, entertainment and religion.
Categories and Examples
Animal Anthropomorphism and the Furry Fandom
Animal anthropomorphism is not the only category of anthropomorphism, however it easily the most prevalent kind. The concept of anthropomorphism is often used interchangeably with the animal subcategory, due primarily to the concept's connection with the furry subculture.
A notable force in modern culture, furries regularly create content featuring anthropomorphism, including games such as Furcadia, Dust: An Elysian Tail, and Overgrowth. Additionally, games featuring anthropomorphic designs or species are often popular among furries, including but not limited to The Elder Scrolls series, the Star Fox series, the Pokémon series, and Final Fantasy XIV.
In some cases, entirely new species are created for games that, while not based on preexisting animals, share many traits with animals and humans combined. Typically, these are very similar to anthropomorphic animals, despite being unique species, such as in the cases of Ratchet & Clank's Lombaxes. Alternatively, they may resemble humans with animal features, such as catgirls or the Viera, in which case they are typically not considered anthropomorphic animals.
A stylized subset of anthropomorphism that was born in Japan, Gijinka typically attributes "moe" / anime characteristics to everyday objects. Such targets of this style have included video game consoles and computer operating systems. Such characters are sometimes referred to as "-tans." (ex: console-tans, OS-tans.)
The Hyperdimension Neptunia series revolves around such gijinka characters. The main character, Neptune, is a gijinka inspired by the never-released Sega Neptune console. Other characters, such as IF and Nisa are personifications of video game developers like Idea Factory and Nippon Ichi Software.
Other Forms of Anthropomorphism
Soul Calibur's infamous possessed sword, Soul Edge, could be labelled an anthropomorphized sword. Artificial Intelligence and robots, such as terminators and EDI, bear qualities such as speech and speech with self consciousness, respectively.