In art, the equivalent of self-insertion is the inserted self-portrait, where the artist includes a self-portrait in a painting of a narrative subject. This has been a common artistic device since at least the European Renaissance.
This literary device should not be confused with a first-person narrator, an author surrogate,[clarification needed] or a character somewhat based on the author, whether the author included it intentionally or not. Many characters have been described as unintentional self-insertions, implying that their author is unconsciously using them as an author surrogate.
In newer forms of fiction, it may be the audience rather than the author who are intended to insert themselves into the fiction. In video games, there are normally player characters (who are sometimes customizable) to serve this purpose, but there are also games with "self-insert characters" who are portrayed especially blandly or as "silent protagonists" to allow players to better identify with them. In fan fiction, "self-insert", "X-insert" or "reader-insert" fiction has the reader appear as a character in the story; their name is substituted with "you" or "y/n" ("your name").