TikTok creator “Pinkydoll” gained significant attention on Twitter when clips of her peculiar catchphrases and exaggerated movements perplexed viewers. These clips unveiled the strange universe of TikTok “NPC” livestreams.
However, Pinkydoll (@pinkydollreal) was not alone in this venture. Curious Twitter users soon discovered that other TikTok streamers were also engaging in this unusual trend. Some reacted with horror, questioning whether this mindless form of entertainment was a glimpse into the future, reminiscent of Fahrenheit 451.
One Twitter user summarized their experience, saying, “Every time I stumble upon a TikTok live, it feels like I’m witnessing the end of the world.” Another user commented, “This is something you’d expect to see on a screen in the background of a Verhoeven movie, showcasing the absurdity of the future.”
What is TikTok’s NPC trend?
The acronym “NPC” stands for “non-player character” in video games. Think of the talkative pedestrians in Grand Theft Auto or the glitchy shopkeepers and guards in Skyrim. These computer-controlled characters bring the game worlds to life, creating bustling cityscapes and medieval marketplaces. However, due to their repetitive animations and limited dialogue, they often unintentionally elicit hilarity.
For years, gamers on YouTube have been creating comedy videos by mimicking the jerky movements of video game characters. This trend has now found its way into TikTok livestreams, allowing content creators to monetize this meme.
With TikTok live, viewers have the option to donate money to streamers, and their donations appear on the screen as virtual “gifts” – similar to an ice cream cone. NPC streamers react to each gift with a predetermined phrase or movement. Pinkydoll, for instance, responds to the ice cream emoji with her catchphrase, “Ice cream so good!”
Ice Cream So Good
The NPC clips quickly sparked a meme, with Twitter users sharing clips and images of notable figures such as Noam Chomsky, Slavoj Žižek, and Jordan Peterson as NPC streamers.
One viral clip showed a TikTok creator livestreaming as his confused and concerned parents intervened. This clip received 32 million views on Twitter, encapsulating the trend’s peculiarity from an outsider’s perspective.
The opportunity to monetize NPC streaming prompted others to join the trend, including YouTuber and Twitch streamer Kai Cenat. One Twitter user even showcased their TikTok timeline, completely dominated by NPC streamers.
Reactions to the NPC clips varied greatly. Some found them strangely calming or even sexually suggestive, while others considered the trend to be a dystopian reflection of society. Some even praised the streamers for finding their place in the absurd landscape of the modern economy, believing that the job held more dignity than customer service.
Many noticed Pinkydoll’s genuine talent in seamlessly transitioning from one NPC response to another, spending hours honing her skills effortlessly.
Pinkydoll herself seemed to agree, addressing her critics in a video and highlighting that they were wasting their time sending her angry messages while she was earning a living on TikTok.
The surge of outrage, admiration, and bemusement has significantly increased Pinkydoll’s visibility. Currently, her TikTok account boasts over 590,000 followers. In an interview with the NYTimes, Pinkydoll admitted that she is still unsure of what an NPC is, but she can make up to $3000 per stream.
It appears that some people are more than willing to pay for the privilege of watching a real human utter “ice cream so good” on command.