As if social media weren't wild enough lately, a new viral trend is freaking users out across TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and anywhere else where videos can be embedded.
"NPC" video streams take the idea of non-player characters in video games—specifically sexualized background characters you might encounter in quests, or even characters you're creating to play in a game.
If it seems like the rules are a little loose on what an NPC video is, you're not off base; even explainers about the phenomenon don't seem to get it quite right. Are they robots? Human automatons who will react in exchange for virtual tips thrown at them? The Daily Beast says these NPC streamers are confusing the hell out of people online who don't really get it, but are watching nonetheless. Some just call it a "streaming kink" and leave it at that.
Two of the most popular examples are Pinkydoll and Cherry Crush, who make repetitive sounds and motions, dress up in sexy clothes, and eventually end up directing their viewers (warning: NSFW) to OnlyFans where they can see more explicit content.
Pinkydoll (real name: Fedha Sinon) in particular is blowing up. Timbaland reposted her last week (the producer is apparently one of her top supporters), Cardi B posted a snippet of one of her videos, and the New York Times wrote a piece on the 27-year-old streamer, focusing on how her NPC catchphrase "Ice cream so good" has become a bonafide meme. She said she feels what she's doing is in line with cosplay and mimicking pop culture that's present in so many types of media.
"I was just being cute," she told the Times, "I remember someone saying, 'Oh my God, you look like an NPC. And then they started sending me, like, crazy money." She says she makes about $7,000 a day across all her social platforms. And, in an interview with The Daily Beast, she joked(?) about parlaying her newfound fame into a rap career.
So what is this, exactly? Is it a fetish? A meme? Gene Lee on TikTok has a name for it: sex work. Check out her take on it below: