NPC / Non-Playable Character example depicting characters from grand theft auto.

NPC / Non-Playable Character

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Updated Apr 19, 2023 at 02:40PM EDT by Zach.

Added Apr 18, 2023 at 01:16PM EDT by sakshi.

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An NPC or Non-Playable Character is a character in a video game that is not controlled by a player. The gaming slang term originates from tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons to describe characters controlled or animated by the game master. The term subsequently came to be used in video games to describe characters with predetermined dialogue and actions that are controlled by the computer instead of a player. After its popularization in gaming, it then spread to the internet and evolved beyond strictly video game contexts. In meme culture, the NPC Wojack is a disparaging way to describe people who cannot think for themselves and people that are considered to be socially and politically passive. The phrase Real Life NPC refers to a conspiracy theory that video game NPCs with no internal monologue exist in the real world. In 2023, the term came under renewed scrutiny after an 11-year-old was stabbed by a person he heckled using the term "NPC."


According to a 1996 issue of the gaming magazine NEXT Generation,[1] the "NPC" or "Nonplayer Character" is a word "taken from the world of pen-and-ink role-playing games" at least as early as the 1990s to refer to a character that can be encountered in an RPG but isn't controlled by another player (seen below).

NPC (Nonplayer Character) • Taken from the world of pen-and- ink role-playing games, an NPC is a character encountered in an RPG who is not controlled by the user


As video games advanced, the term NPC then came to be applied to in-game characters controlled by a computer instead of a dungeon master. On January 21st, 2003, an anonymous user posted a definition for the word to Urban Dictionary[2] (seen below).

NPC NPC (Non Player Character) Usually used to refer to characters in an MMORPG that are computer controlled Wow that NPC is selling cheap swords! by Anonymous January 21, 2003 828 172 y f FLAG

Video game NPCs are different from the tabletop RPG definition of the term in how they are generally understood to be passive and not hostile toward players. Terms for hostile non-player-controlled characters typically include "enemies," "mobs" or "creeps."[4] Players can often interact with video game NPCs to trade, exchange dialogue or advance the plot of the game.

Some advanced RPGs have NPCs with interactive or "branching" dialogue where players can choose from a list of possible dialogues and receive different responses from an NPC, which may or may not affect their overarching game. Early examples of video game franchises with notable branching dialogue include Megami Tensei and Mass Effect. [3]

IHR EN Talk back. Apologize. Leave the room. Isamu Don't tell me you came to save me, Seda. Too little, too late, don't you think? W S A D Select Confirm

NPC As Pejorative Slang

In the late 2010s, people began to use "NPC" to refer to people IRL instead of strictly video game characters. The term "NPC" when used to describe a person is a pejorative word that could be equated to sheeple. A "Real Life NPC" is a person that is easily impressionable, lacks an internal monologue and does what he is told. This definition is also reflected in the NPC Wojack meme.

For example, on October 25th, 2018, Twitter[5] user @JackChunko posted a tweet that read, "son just called me an NPC so I gave him the quest to get the fuck out of my home," gathering over 44,000 likes in five years (seen below, left). On August 10th, 2019, Twitter[6] user @seupodead posted a tweet about "NPC energy," gathering over 90,000 likes in four years (seen below, right).

Jack Chunko @JackChunko son just called me an NPC so i gave him the quest to get the f--- out of my home 12:43 PM Oct 25, 2018 9,022 Retweets 158 Quotes 44.7K Likes .. 259 Bookmarks MOVED TO @SEUPO @seupodead retweet if you have big npc energy TOP DEFINITION npc energy When you only talk to people if they talk to you. Person 1: why don't you ever start conversations Person 2: because I have npc energy by Bearboy69 January 24, 2019 5:52 PM. Aug 10, 2019 61.5K Retweets 3,007 Quotes 99K Likes 1,741 Bookmarks :

2023 NPC Stabbing In Washington

On March 22nd, 2023, an 11-year-old boy from Mill Creek, Washington was allegedly chased and stabbed by a 29-year-old man named Joshua David Pence after he was called an NPC by the child and his friend. The event and the usage of the slang term NPC in the real world sparked many memes and reactions about the alleged non-fatal assault, particularly when media coverage and online discourse spiked around it in mid-April 2023.

NPC Wojack

NPC Wojak is a depiction of the MS Paint character Wojak with a blank stare and facial expression, named after non-player characters within video games. The character is meant to represent people who do not think for themselves or are incapable of having an internal monologue, bearing many similarities to the terms "basic" and "normie."

>"you post on T D" subscribed to over 50 animal subs r/blackpeopletwitter last plage trophies onbinet jeong last place trophies cabinet only reads headlines and top comments unironically gives gold derails threads with over used one-liner joke gets excited about marvel movies 600k karm thinks fox news is reason conservatives exist lives in very small expensive condo upvote if... thinks eeleb opinions matter enjoys to top 40 radio rlAgainstHateSubreddits no real personality listens to rap so doesnt look racist believe her >timid has asian gf "centrist" soy beard never reflects on beliefs never been robbed no father figuire in uni for 10 yra pullty tproven innocont still uses 2011 memes >"ripolit our isnt propaganda" "only california and NY matter" thinks blind empathy is a virtue party of science good times create weak men "whats the bell curve? SouthAfrica genocide is a hoax ICANCELED THEM BECAUSE WELL, SEEING HOW THEY WERE OPPRESSING ME YOU TARGETED A SINGLE PERSON BECAUSE THEY HADA DIFFERENT OPINION, DOESN'T THAT MAKE YOU AN OPPRESSOR?

Real Life NPC

Real Life NPC refers to a concept, conspiracy theory and video trend related to non-playable characters within video games existing in real life as if reality is a simulation. The idea is inspired by video games that have prominent NPC features such as Elder Scrolls games, like Oblivion and Skyrim, or Elden Ring and Grand Theft Auto (GTA), among others. It relates to variant memes and concepts like I'm The Main Character, NPC Wojak and the catchphrases "We Are Living In A Simulation" or "We Live In A Simulation."

You know they're an NPC when their FYP only has videos with 1 million + likes CE DI a-aron @wydccalamity ever met a real life NPC 12:09 PM · Mar 21, 2022 · Twitter for iPhone 665 Retweets 268 Quote Tweets 14.8K Likes Imagine how easy it would be for the government & media to create faces of nonexistent humans & use that for fake stories or other agendas.

Oblivion NPC Dialogue

Oblivion NPC Dialogue Parodies refer to videos mocking the awkward dialogues with non-player characters (NPCs) found in the 2006 Bethesda Softworks role-playing game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and later in 2011 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Various Examples

Chase Kip @ChaseKip_ I feel for this Pokemon Masters NPC... Masked Man Argh! I went through all the trouble o' stealin' this little guy, and now... Masked Man Hey! Your Pokémon look pretty strong! Lemme just take 'em off your hands for ya! 8:54 PM Sep 6, 2019 Masked Man It's too darn cute... I can't use it for battling! I...I can't do it. Masked Man Wait! Stay back, lil' bud! I can't have you getting hurt! VMALIN DENON the garbage s--- boy @davedittell POWERED Sam Adams looks like the NPC who gives you your first quest to kill the rats in his basement SAMUEL ADAMS BOSTON LAGER 10:36 PM Apr 8, 2016 634 Retweets 1,629 Likes California Beaujolais ALC 4.8% Vol. 24x330mle Bottles
Lythero** @Lythero An NPC tried to talk me down from jumping off a bridge. He tried. Brigo Hey! Don't be rash! 5:17 PM Mar 3, 2017 6,723 Retweets 130 Quotes 12.3K Likes Brigo You won't change the world by jumping carelessly to your doom. don't va know! ELDERSCROLLS FACT #327 IN OBLIVION WHEN SPEAKING TO BEGGARS THEY SAY "I'M ONLY ASKING FOR ENOUGH TO FEED MY KIDS" WHICH HEAVILY IMPLIES THAT THERE ARE KIDS IN THE GAME WORLD, HOWEVER THERE ISN'T A SINGLE CHILD NPC FOUND IN THE GAME

Search Interest

External References

[1] Internet Archive – NEXT Gen

[2] Urban Dictionary – NPC

[3] Prime Time Gamer – Shin Megami Tensei

[4]  Internet Archive – Complete WoW Abbreviations

[5] Twitter – JackChunko

[6] Twitter – seupodead

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