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Non-Player Character (NPC)

Definition - What does Non-Player Character (NPC) mean?

A non-player character (NPC) is a video game character that is controlled by the game's artificial intelligence (AI) rather than by a gamer. Non-player characters serve a number of purposes in video games, including:

  • As plot device: NPCs can be used to advance the storyline.
  • For assistance: NPCs may act as partners to the gamer.
  • Game functions: NPCs often serve as save points, item stores, health regeneration points and so on.

Techopedia explains Non-Player Character (NPC)

A non-player character describes characters the gamer interacts with throughout the game. Interaction covers the gamut from plot-advancing conversations to regular commerce to get the next best sword. NPCs do not include enemy units, as blasting, slashing, bombing and sniping are not really interaction in any sense. Generally speaking, NPCs are the characters controlled by the game itself. They are generally friendly – or at least not openly hostile – toward the gamer-controlled characters.

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