Skip to content

What Does The Term “Non Player Character” Mean?

Non player character

If you like playing video games such as the MMORPGs we highlight at Full Dive, you’ll likely come across the term ‘non-player character’ (NPC). So what does the term mean? NPCs are characters that are not controlled by the gamer but rather by the processor of the gaming device. They have pre-defined actions and attributes.

NPC Verses CPU

Non-player characters should not be confused with other automated game characters controlled by the processing unit to mimic gamer-controlled characters. The latter category of characters is referred to as CPUs in reference to the Central Processing Unit of a gaming device, as they are coded to exhibit certain forms of artificial intelligence.

In contrast, NPCs are programmed to have a limited set of actions. Their behaviour is usually automated or, in some cases, triggered by specific player actions such as pressing the interaction button. For this reason, they may appear robotic. Additionally, NPCs do not include enemy factions and are generally friendly or courteous to gamer-controlled characters.

The Role of Non Player Characters

A non player character can have a number of purposes. The most common role is to populate the gaming world. NPCs can also serve functional roles such as saving progress, acquiring equipment and gear from in-game stores, or health regeneration. They may also advance the storyline by assigning roles that player characters must complete for the game to progress.