Historically, there’s been a clear divide between adult live streaming (explicit camming) and social media platform TikTok, given TikTok’s strict rules against sexual content. However, some suggest this divide is being challenged by the emerging trend of NPC TikTok streaming.
NPC stands for non-playable character and is derived from role-playing games (RPGs) such as The Legend of Zelda and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, plus other games such as Grand Theft Auto. These games feature NPCs, characters that often repeat a short script or movement.
Throughout July 2023, TikTok streamers performing repetitive lines and moves have gone viral, with the trend largely dominated by young, attractive women, often wearing low-cut tops and performing for a mainly male audience. While this content rarely goes beyond playful acting and revealing outfits, it’s sparked an uptick in fan-tipping behavior, typically associated with dedicated camming sites, not TikTok.
While no one is saying that TikTok is on the verge of merging with popular adult camming sites like Chaturbate and Stripchat, the NPC trend has blurred the lines, sparking intense discussions about the nature of live streaming.
The woman responsible for a lot of this new trend is Montreal-based Fedha Sinon, known as Pinkydoll on TikTok. Reportedly, she rakes in up to $3,000 per streaming session, where she repeats catchy phrases like “ice cream so good” and “Ooh, you got me feeling like a cowgirl” to earn tips from fans. Since 2021 TikTok has allowed streamers to earn from tips, with 20 TikTok ‘coins’ currently costing 29 cents and an ice cream emoji costing 7 cents.
Sinon has described herself as the “Queen of NPC”.
Many take issue with NPC streamers being categorized with adult content cammers simply because they’re young, female, attractive, and occasionally don revealing outfits. It’s difficult to argue, though, that large swathes of their audience aren’t coming to them for some kind of titillation.
Examining the trend, the Washington Post said: “It’s impossible to say how much of the viewing audience find NPC streaming sexually arousing, but it’s hard not to see that these streamers are portraying objectified interactive dolls that do your bidding.”
The newspaper noted that for some streamers, there is a clear crossover: Cherry Crush, a popular NPC creator, is also an online sex worker.
There has been criticism about this association being made across the NPC genre. Writing in TechCrunch, Morgan Sung said that “the sudden attention on NPC creators opened the door for bad faith discourse around online sex work, even though these TikTok creators aren’t making this content for sexual gratification. Criticizing NPC live streams as predatory kink content adds to the stigma surrounding sex work.”
Sung added: “Even if the content that NPC creators are making isn’t explicitly sexual, the criticism targeting them is inherently linked to the anti-sex sentiments pervading online culture.”
Whether they are making TikTok NPC content as well as adult content elsewhere, or being unfairly lumped into some kind of fetish mental category, one thing is certain: this new wave of NPC creators is absolutely killing it with the tips.
But honestly, if you could pocket $7,000 a day just by repeating “gang gang” into your camera for a few hours, wouldn’t you consider it?