Why So Many Creators Are Acting Like Video Game Characters on TikTok

npc tiktok
mamaa.arii/TikTok notasnack_imthemeal/TikTok pinkydollreal/TikTok Remix by Caterina Cox

Ice cream so good. Yes yes yes. Gang gang. Those phrases have reached meme status in a matter of about a week. Just last week, clips started circulating Twitter of Canadian creator PinkyDoll acting like an NPC (non-playable character or a video game character) straight out of “Grand Theft Auto” on TikTok Live, repeating a random string of phrases, pretending to lick an ice cream cone, popping air bubbles, and thanking seemingly every viewer who sends a gift while popping popcorn kernels with a hair straightener.

Yep, you read that description of things that can only exist in 2023 correctly. 

If you haven’t seen PinkyDoll on your For You Page, you may have read about her in mainstream publications, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. Not only has she been immortalized as a meme, but she’s also in the paper of record, putting her in an elite, albeit strange, class of creators. 

PinkyDoll’s TikTok Lives can bring in thousands of viewers, and they’ve been met with a spectrum of reactions, from confusion to amusement. She’s been live streaming on TikTok since the start of the year, and her particular brand of content is eccentric.

But she’s cashing in. The trend has caught fire as a result. PinkyDoll told the Daily Beast that she goes live three times a day and earns $2,000-$4,000 per live. She estimates that she’s earning around $7,000 a day.

The NPC TikTok Craze

Other creators are catching on, too. Scroll through the Live section of TikTok, and chances are, you don’t even have to scroll that long before you see a number of them acting like NPCs literally right now. Passionfruit contributor Steven Asarch said it’s like finding corn in a cornfield. That kind of cash is obviously appealing, and everyone wants a piece of the NPC live money—even Trish Paytas is getting in on it.

It’s worth noting that NPC TikTok isn’t a new thing; User Cherry Crush is believed to have originated the NPC live trend, and other creators have been doing it for some time. PinkyDoll even acknowledges that she didn’t create the trend. 

PinkyDoll has, however, brought it out of niche TikTok and launched it to mainstream relevance. There also can be a fetish element to it; both PinkyDoll and Cherry Crush have OnlyFans accounts too. This isn’t necessarily the case for creators who are trying on the trend for size, but why is something that’s already existed suddenly so popular? It’s the money, honey.  

PinkyDoll’s revelation of how much goddamn money she’s making, boosted by the water cooler effect of the TikTok algorithm, means others are following the money. Sure, they might not reach the level of recognition that PinkyDoll has, but you can’t blame people for trying to benefit from a trend. It’s hard enough to earn a living as a creator, especially when trends and tastes shift so quickly. It’s only a matter of time before a new trend takes hold. 

What viral trend are you paying attention to? Email [email protected] to share your story.

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