Virtual Human Livestreams Are Taking over China While NPC-Style Creators Thrive Globally

In Asia, brands are harnessing the soft power of virtual human livestreamers; while the West goes the other way around with creators pretending to be virtual humans.

The virtual human market is predicted to reach $440.3 billion by 2031, as reported by Allied Market Research.

They’re so influential, in fact, that in the West the trend has gone full-circle. Now, real human creators are emulating their virtual counterparts and ushering in the rise of the human “Non-Playable Character” (NPC).

NPC culture on TikTok

On Western-facing platforms like TikTok, NPC livestreams are gaining traction.

NPCs are pre-programmed side characters in video games that aren’t controlled by the player. The term is commonly used by Gen Z to describe someone who is seen as generic, or who lacks independent thought. In NPC livestreams, creators pretend to be NPCs and react with specific catchphrases when given virtual gifts. For example, Pinkydoll, one of the most popular NPC livestreamers on TikTok, says “ice cream so good” when given an ice cream gift. She has over 950,000 followers, and regularly broadcasts to an audience of over 30,000 simultaneous watchers.

The rise in these polarizing yet neoteric trends have inundated smartphone screens across the globe over the past weeks. In China, hyper-realistic, AI-generated humanoids have grown on e-commerce platforms, while the West found itself mesmerized by a surge in NPC-like creators sharing catchphrases for cash.

In the West, human emulates machine. In China, machine emulates human. Continue to read the full article here