But for the most part, Shazeer and De Freitas want to show the world that chatbots can be the ideal delivery method for customized immersive entertainment. The site’s top chatbots, with millions of interactions, include versions of celebrities like Elon Musk and Donald Trump. They’re also home to many characters from popular series and games like Danganronpa and Genshin Impact as well as familiar television and film characters like Walter White, Tony Soprano, and for some reason, two versions of Loki. And unlike “Historical Figures,” most of these bots were created from scratch by users — which, to fans, has proven Character.AI’s real killer feature.
On Character.AI, a character doesn’t need to have reached a certain threshold of popularity to be recognized on the app and made interactive. You yourself can pick your dearest blorbo that perhaps only you care about and, if you’re willing to put the time in to feed it text to learn from, spin them up to talk to. Even if fully machine-written conventional fanfic never takes off, the addictive interactivity of Character.AI’s chatbots may have cracked the code for getting fans to participate enthusiastically — and more or less uncritically — in AI-generated media.
The customizability of Character.AI, in which each fan can create their own version of a character based on their interpretation or chat with a bot already made by another fan, is what makes it so appealing. Fans on Twitter report losing hours to conversing with the bots, and the Character.AI tag on Tumblr is likewise filled with screenshots of chats between users and bots as well as enthusiastic requests for people to chat with bots they’ve just made.