If you’re not a gamer, you might be wondering what NPC means, and even seen it written or in particular memes around the web (yes social media, we’re looking at you). For more seasoned players, the acronym is commonplace and used frequently - it stands for non-player character.
An NPC is essentially a non-player character in video games or tabletop RPGs: these characters aren't controlled by the player. NPCs can be governed by computer code, or they can be controlled by the game’s master in a tabletop RPG. It's important to note that an NPC can interact and affect the game world, but players can’t play as an NPC.
NPCs serve a variety of functions in games and can differ greatly in their purpose. For example, they can exist as helpful guides to instruct players on their quests or provide valuable assets. In certain games, for instance, they can appear as merchants who sell items to players. Some NPCs may even be hostile enemies that players have to avoid or defeat! While others could simply be regular people going about their daily business.
The NPC definition in slang has the same meaning: it's a reference to a non-player character. The term can often have a different connotation and be used to refer to someone who lacks originality or independence. Sometimes it is used in politics, where people who mindlessly repeat talking points or beliefs are referred to as NPCs.
NPC behavior can vary from game to game, with the more advanced titles of the modern age featuring much more detailed and realistic characteristics. There are plenty of NPC meme sites out there that show some of the funny things that these NPCs get up to. You can also check out cool videos of highly advanced NPCs that have complex routines.
For example, in Red Dead Redemption 2, it’s possible to follow NPCs around as they go about their daily business. Many of them have full routines that start in the morning and end in the evening. NPC behavior can change depending on how players interact with them. For instance, if a player decides to punch an NPC in Grand Theft Auto, they will be programmed to either run away or fight back.