NPC (//; each letter separately), derived from Non-Player Character in video games, is an Internet meme that expresses the idea that individuals on the political left do not think for themselves; it is also known as NPC Wojak. The NPC meme, which graphically is based on the Wojak meme, was created in July 2016 by an anonymous author and first published on the image-hosting website 4chan, where also the idea and inspiration behind the meme were introduced.
|First appearance||July 7, 2016|
The NPC meme has gained widespread attention and been featured in numerous news outlets, including The New York Times, The Verge, BBC, and Breitbart News Network. According to the conservative news watchdogs Accuracy in Media and Media Research Center, media coverage of the NPC meme has been politically biased.
In 2003, the image hosting website 4chan was released, enabling users to publish images online without publicly revealing identifiable information, user account or IP address. A large number of internet memes has first been published on 4chan, including the first documented apprearance of NPC on July 7, 2016. The post by an anonymous user who initiated the NPC meme, titled "Are you an NPC?", detailed the behavior of individuals acting similarly to non-playable characters in video games by repeatedly using phrases such as "JUST BE YOURSELF", and ended the post with the following description of people the NPC meme intends to depict.
If you get in a discussion with them it's always the same buzzwords and hackneyed arguments. They're the kind of people who make a show of discomfort when you break the status quo like by breaking the normie barrier to invoke a real discussion. it's like in a video game when you accidentally talk to somebody twice and they give you the exact lines word for word once more.
The design of the NPC meme character is based on Wojak (Polish: Wojak, lit. 'warrior, soldier', [vɔjak]), a meme created in Microsoft Paint in 2010. Unlike the NPC meme, the Wojak meme (also known as Feels Guy) appeared first on the image hosting website vichan and has mainly been used for expression of feelings such as compassion.
During the weeks leading up to the 2018 midterm elections in the United States, the NPC meme gained remarkable attention, with relatively high media coverage, publication of new NPC memes online, and several noticeable events. A large number of animated videos based on the NPC meme were uploaded to YouTube in the second half of October 2018, and Google searches for the term "NPC Wojak" peaked around the same time. In October 2018, a large number of Twitter accounts were created which presented themselves as NPCs, and more than 1,500 such accounts were subsequently banned by Twitter. Also during the same month, InfoWars held a competition promoting creation of NPC memes (according to an InfoWars article titled "Meme War 3.0: Infowars Launches $10K NPC Meme Contest"), which resulted in hundreds of NPC memes submitted (according to an InfoWars article titled "Check Out The NPC Meme Finalists - Winner TBA").
The number of searches for the search term "NPC Wojak" remained relatively constant during year 2019 (at a level considerably lower than the peak of the preceding year).
Although the NPC meme was created 6 years after the Wojak meme, the NPC meme rapidly gained attention in comparison with the Wojak meme. On the website of the meme community Know Your Meme, the NPC meme has 858,000 page views, 33 videos, 597 images and 749 comments as of December 31, 2019. This can be compared to the Wojak meme on which NPC is based, which has 787,000 page views, 6 videos, 332 images and 47 comments as of December 31, 2019. A Reddit forum or subreddit exclusively for "right wing, political" NPC memes without "extremist content" called r/NPCMemes was created on October 10, 2018.
In appearance, the NPC character is gray in color and simple in its design, with an expressionless face with a pointy nose and a blank stare. The shape of the NPC face resembles that of Wojak, and is drawn crudely. NPC is often featured in memes with a one-colored electric blue background (e.g. ). In some memes, numerous identical NPCs are featured (e.g. ), and despite NPC being a modified version of Wojak, they are in some memes featured together (typically with Wojak representing a character possessing the ability to reflect and reason that NPC lack, e.g. ).
The initialism NPC refers to non-playable character, a term used in video-games for characters the player cannot control. As such, a non-playable character in a game is controlled by the computer, and typically interacts with the player through simple and repetitive actions, such as communicating the same sentence each time the player approaches the NPC. The NPC meme suggests that the behavior of individuals of the political left resembles that of typical non-playable characters in video games. As such, NPCs have "no internality, agency, or capacity for critical thought", they rely on scripted lines and do not think by themselves. Following the analogy of non-playable characters, the NPC meme is used to satirically depict individuals who are unable to engage in a discussion, but respond using lines resembling scripted lines in video games. If a person reasons politically incorrect, an NPC responds with discomfort.
The NPC meme has been featured in major and minor news outlets alike, with frequent coverage during the peak of the NPCs popularity in fall 2018. According to The Verge, a few articles (including one by The New York Times published on October 16, 2018) sparked a "domino effect" and led to increased spread of the meme on Twitter, YouTube and through articles. The NPC meme has been covered by news agencies of varying political stances, including Kotaku (a video games news agency claimed to be "far-left" by for example Media Research Center) and Breitbart News Network (a news agency claimed to be "far-right" by for example The Week). According to the American non-profit conservative news media watchdog Accuracy In Media, which analyzed the media coverage of the NPC meme ahead of the 2018 United States midterm election, general news coverage of the meme was subject to "Clear Bias", representing 4 out of 5 in the analytical bias-scale applied. The conclusion that media in general is politically biased with respect to the NPC meme is also shared by the American non-profit conservative news media watchdog Media Research Center.
Twitter mass banEdit
In October 2018, users of r/The_Donald, a large subreddit that supported United States President Donald Trump, coordinated in creating accounts presented as NPCs on the American microblogging and social networking service Twitter. According to The Week, the accounts spread "bland, politically correct messages intended to mimic and provoke liberal pronouncements". Following the mass creation of NPC Twitter accounts, the term "NPC" was used over 30,000 times on Twitter in a time span of 24 hours. Twitter responded to the event by banning more than 1,500 of its users presenting themselves as NPCs. The created accounts typically used profile pictures of NPC with slight modifications, such as colorful hair or partially covering masks. According to one or more anonymous sources quoted by The Week and The New York Times, the users were banned for violating a term of use by Twitter against "intentionally misleading election-related content", ahead of the United States 2018 midterm election. The claim that NPC memes were used to spread misinformation about the 2018 United States midterm election is also reported by other news agencies, including The Verge, BBC and The Independent, although no examples are presented. The decision by Twitter to remove NPC accounts has upset many conservatives according to BBC, and following a review of Twitter's banning of accounts, the conservative nonprofit media watchdog Media Research Center raised the concern that Twitter was upholding a double standard favoring the political left.
On October 17, 2018, InfoWars announced a competition in which participants were given a chance to win $10,000 for submitting the "best Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson or other Infowars-themed" NPC meme (according to an InfoWars article titled "Meme War 3.0: Infowars Launches $10K NPC Meme Contest"). The competition ended on October 22, 2018 (according to an InfoWars article titled "Meme War 3.0: Infowars Launches $10K NPC Meme Contest"), and hundreds of submissions were reportedly received (according to an InfoWars article titled "Check Out The NPC Meme Finalists - Winner TBA"). Information about the competition was also announced on the subreddit r/The_Donald, and on the 4chan forum /pol/, where over 300 replies to the announcement were posted within the first 24 hours following. The winning submission in the competition, which was reported by Alex Jones on the InfoWars broadcast on November 28, 2018, was a video featuring Antifa, CNN, and the Democratic Party of the United States.(according to an InfoWars article titled "NPC Meme Contest Winner Announced!") The winning video, which is 2 minutes and 20 seconds long, features a man who while walking in a city, sees things around him differently when he is using sunglasses (with the InfoWars logotype on) compared to when the glasses are not used. The video was published on YouTube with the title "Another NPC in the Wall" on October 21, 2018, and has been viewed more than 60,000 times.
In 2019, the NPC meme was used in the modification of two existing billboards in the United States.
On January 13, 2019, the conservative street artist group "The Faction" modified a billboard featuring American comedian Bill Maher in West Hollywood using the NPC meme. The billboard, advertising an upcoming season of the TV-show Real Time with Bill Maher on the television network HBO, had the face of Maher replaced by that of an NPC, the text "THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT" replaced by "THE WHOLE NARRATIVE AND NOTHING BUT", and the text "HBO" replaced by "NPC" (according to a Breitbart article titled "Bill Maher Blasts ‘Incels’ Who Defaced ‘Real Time’ Billboard with NPC Meme").
On February 19, 2019, a similar modification was done to a billboard featuring English comedian John Oliver in Los Angeles, in which the face of Oliver was replaced by that of an NPC, and text "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" was replaced by "The Orange Man Bad Show with John Oliver". The modified billboard also included the text "*MATRIX APPROVED NPC PROGRAMMING" and a speech balloon from the NPC containing slur. According to The Daily Dot, the modification of the billboard featuring Oliver, also credited to The Faction, was an attempt to counteract the media's "Trump derangement syndrome".
•⎳• is a kaomoji version of the NPC meme.
MOB becomes NPC if each letter is changed to the directly subsequent one in the English alphabet.
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- HTML 4.01 Specification
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