One of the most challenging aspects of video-games culture for a newcomer, especially for a busy parent, is trying to learn and understand the many, many acronyms and specialised terms. GameHub HQ entries are jargon-free, so you can get the information you need as easily and painlessly as possible, but there are still some words worth knowing. Every Monday, we break down one Word Worth Knowing from the world of gaming.
For our second word, we are going to look at an acronym unique to gaming. What is an NPC, what do you need to know and why do you need to care?
What It Is: NPC = Non-Playable Character
What It Means: All the characters that occur in the game that the player cannot directly control. This includes pedestrians and passers-by in large open-world games, other racers in driving games, and, in games where the player is part of a group, their character’s friends, companions or gang.
Why You Care: Non-playable characters make up all the other people in a game world aside from the player. The NPCs are controlled by the computer. They may interact with the player in a meaningful way, as friends, team members or lovers, or they may be unimportant passers-by, enemy soldiers or simply members of a crowd. The ways in which the game allows the player to interact with NPCs may affect how you perceive the game’s content. For example, some games punish or prohibit the player from killing “innocent bystander” NPCs, whilst other actively encourage the player to terrorise a game’s inhabitants. A game may allow a player to have sexual relationships with one of their NPC companions, or allow the player to pick up NPC prostitutes for sex. How a game allows the player to interact with its digital citizens will depend broadly on it’s genre, but with a thousand subtle differences from title to individual title.
If a player, or their parent/guardian, has a question or concern about the freedoms they will be given to act with regard to NPCs, get in touch and we’ll try to answer your questions!