In an NPC stream, a streamer behaves like an NPC from a video game. This means that the person streaming has standardized reactions, statements (catchphrases), facial expressions and gestures with which they respond to their viewers.
What is NPC Streaming? Meaning, explanation, definition
The interaction between viewer and streamer here is very one-dimensional and seems like operant conditioning. The viewers give virtual gifts to the streamer or the streamer. In response to these gifts, the streamer performs a (predefined) action.
Example of Pinkydoll: Pinkydoll gets a virtual ice cream as a gift and she responds by saying „ice cream so good“ – She says this every time she gets an it gift. If she gets five virtual ice creams, she says this five times. If she gets 20 virtual ice creams as a gift, she says „ice cream so good“ very very often. This also has the effect that a lot of sentences are strung together senselessly.
NPC streams take place on „TikTok Live“.
Two big questions arise:
Why do streamers do this? NPC Stream
For the streamers, the monetary aspect is clearly in the foreground. Because they can have every virtual gift converted into real money. Thus, streamers have an earning opportunity here, which means: playing the NPC for money.
Why do the viewers do this? NPC Stream Explanation
There are four assumptions why viewers watch NPC Streams and donate money there.
First, NPC Streams are an expression of a parasocial relationship. Those who donate receive a response.
But another aspect is much more interesting: Control! Viewers control and determine what the NPC streamer says with gifts. This sense of control (over at least something) can be reassuring when the world around you seems very uncertain (and threatening). (The editors suspect that this is the core of NPC Streams).
A third aspect is that an NPC stream gives the impression that the stream is only running for the viewer(s). This changes the focus, whereas in traditional streams the streamer is the focus, all of a sudden the focus is only on the stream’s reaction. A subtle difference.
A fourth assumption is that the NPCs seem harmless. They don’t rabble-rouse, they don’t insult, and they aren’t unfriendly. Thus, viewers can indulge in the stream without fear or danger.
More about NPC Steams
For NPC streams and NPC streamers, they only do something in the stream if they receive a virtual gift. If there is no gift, they stand passively in front of the camera waiting for „input“.
A real conversation between streamer and viewer does not occur in the NPC stream. NPC Streams are actually at their core: stimulus-response patterns. The streamer receives a stimulus. Then the streamer gives a reaction. In this case, the viewer is the trigger or originator of the stimulus.
NPC streams have been popular on TikTok Live since June / July 2023. The phenomenon emerged in Asia around the end of 2022. Here, Natuecoco was one of the first more well-known NPC streamers.
The abbreviation „NPC“ stands for non-player character. NPCs are characters that populate virtual game worlds. They are not controlled by the player, but interact with him.
The gestures and statements of NPCs are often robotic.
Well-known NPC streamers are:
Conclusion: NPC Streams
It would be easy to devalue NPC streams and NPC streamers. But: there is a market and demand for such streams. They satisfy something in viewers and for that the streamers receive remuneration.
It takes some practice to rehearse all the gestures and statements, as well as to play them at the push of a button (gift is given). So the streamers have some acting talent.