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Key Points

  • A NPC is gamer slang for a non-player character.
  • NPC’s are used in storylines.
  • NPC’s can be used as save points, item stores, and so much more.

Regardless of your gaming niche, you have probably heard the term NPC before.

Because there are a ton of abbreviations in the gaming world, it’s easy for the term to slip through the mind. NPC stands for non-playable characters.

It has started spreading to other areas of internet culture, and there is a good chance you have seen NPC in a meme or two.

Uses of NPC

Emulation remains the easiest way to enjoy retro games without needing to invest in costly vintage hardware.

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A NPC is gamer slang for a non-player character. It means that this NPC is controlled by the game’s AI rather than a player like yourself. NPC’s serve for many purposes such as:

  • Plot thickening: NPC’s are used in storylines
  • For assistance: NPC’s can be used to act as partners in gameplay
  • Game functions: NPC’s can be used as save points, item stores, and so much more.

Let’s dig a little deeper:

Tabletop Role-Playing

	Dungeons & Dragons game in progress
Dungeons and Dragons features, which features a multi-sided dice and a character sheet.

©Philip Mitchell, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons – License

The term started to gain a lot of use with tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. The people who are part of the party are called PCs or player characters.

The characters that the dungeon master would play or use for interactions with the PCs were NPCs. An excellent way to think of NPCs is the supporting cast or extras that help move the story along without narrating the whole way through.

In the tabletop role-playing community, there is some debate on whether the game master should give the NPCs stats or not.

However, depending on how your party plays on the campaign, you might want to pre-plan some stats for your NPCs just in case one of your party members intends to fight them. You’d be surprised how often it can happen.

Video Games

screengrab of Myst-Online-Uru-Live homepage
Hosted on Cyan-maintained servers., MYST-URDU is a multiplayer online adventure game.


NPC then made the jump to video games. These characters are very similar to what they are in tabletop role-playing games.

Except for this time, instead of being controlled by the game master, they are controlled by the video game engine. Scripted and typically triggered by certain actions or dialogue with the player, NPCs do not perform anything on their own. It is worth noting that NPC typically refers to characters that are not hostile toward the players.

While most NPCs behave that way, in some MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games), there are live NPCs. This means that this character is pretty much the same as an ordinary player. But it is controlled by one of the company’s employees that makes the game.

The most famous example of this is from a game called Myst Online: Uru Live.


NPC is also used with memes. Typically, NPC jokes about someone who works a mindless job or acts like they are being told to do something by someone else.

Although these types of memes have begun to die out recently, it is worth mentioning.

Next Up…

Check out some of this awesome content:

What Does NPC Stand For? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a NPC person?

An NPC person often refers to someone who works a mindless job or someone that seems like they are controlled by someone else.

What's the difference between CPU and NPC

NPCs are non-playable characters typically used to help move the story along. Where CPUs are computer-controlled characters typically in competitive games and act like a human is controlling them.

Why is everyone an NPC?

Referring to the meme, everyone is an NPC because everyone else is not controllable by you, or at least they shouldn’t be.

Is blue shirt guy an NPC?

Ryan Reynolds’s movie “Free Guy,” where he plays a character called Blue Shirt Guy, is a perfect example of an NPC.

What is another word for NPC?

Another way to refer to NPCs is Non-controllable or computer-controlled.

About the Author

More from History-Computer

  • Techopedia Available here: https://www.techopedia.com/definition/1920/non-player-character-npc
  • Wikipedia Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPC_(meme)
  • Wikipedia Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-player_character
  • Wikipedia Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-player_character
  • Business Insider Available here: https://www.businessinsider.com/guides/tech/npc-meaning
  • Sportskeeda Available here: https://www.sportskeeda.com/pop-culture/what-npc-mean-tiktok-definition-gaming-slang-revealed