Before we get into this, I can’t stress this enough. I’m very much a person with NPC energy and I’m fine with that. But that might not be the case for everyone. And at times, that’s not always the case with me. With that out of the way, let’s get talking about NPC energy.
What Is An NPC?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the gaming language, I’ll start off by telling you what an NPC is. Put in a technical way, NPCs are dynamic objects that aren’t subject to the control of the player/user and follow a set of codes or AI to operate within the gaming space (Safari and Harsoyo, 2012).
Put simply, an NPC is a non-playable character or non-player character, meaning they can’t be controlled by the player/user (Wikipedia). An NPC can be anything from an enemy character the player has to fight, a supplementary partner that’ll support the player (Safari and Harsoyo, 2012), or just be there in the background to interact with for quests or simple dialogue.
What Is NPC Energy?
One way to look at NPC energy is to consider it as being the energy of an introvert, although in extreme cases you could also consider it as having social anxiety or even being hikikomori. Someone with NPC energy can hold conversations when people talk to them, but for one reason or another, they might not be the person to start such a conversation. And there’s nothing wrong with that if that makes you happy.
People with NPC energy have a lot of great traits that extroverts could benefit from, so much so that I wrote an article on that very subject. However, for some, living with NPC energy can make them feel that you’re letting life pass them by.
From NPC Energy To Main Character Energy
Rather than living life with NPC energy and letting life happen around you, you might want to seek main character energy. In doing so, you can take charge of your personal story and flourish as its protagonist. The idea behind evolving from NPC energy to main character energy is to make sure you root for yourself by respecting your values, your journey, and allowing good things to happen (Simplemost). It’s your life, so write your own story.
According to YPluse, 55% of Generation Z and Millennials say it’s a positive thing to have main character energy because you’re able to prioritise your own happiness. That’s not to say you can’t be happy with NPC energy, but with main character energy, you’re prioritising putting effort into being happy, because you can’t just choose to be happy. Happiness takes time and effort.
Although some might think that main character energy is akin to being a narcissist, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Narcissism is a personality disorder whereby people have an astronomically high sense of self-importance (Mayo Clinic). Whereas, main character energy is simply about making yourself a priority.
This is important because there’s a risk of those with NPC energy not having their needs met (Simplemost). Meaning, they’re taking a supporting character role in life.
How To Grind Main Character Energy
Before we start on the advice, let me say again that there’s nothing wrong with having NPC energy because there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. In fact, a lot of main characters and other extroverts could learn a lot from us introverts. Because I believe this to be true, I even wrote an article on how extroverts could be more like introverts, which you can find by clicking here.
Just because you have NPC energy, doesn’t mean you’re not perfect as who you are. But in case you’re not happy about living with NPC energy, at least not all the time, then here are some tips on how to overcome your NPC energy.
Before setting out on your NPC energy journey to transform into a main character, be aware of what’s right for you. Healthy boundaries are important for everyone. Learning to say no is as important as any other wellbeing skill in your item bag.
An example of having a healthy boundary might be to talk to a friend who makes you feel uncomfortable with their behaviour (Simplemost). In some cases, this might mean parting ways with friends if they’re not willing to change, which might sound harsh (Vox). Life is too short to not have positive characters on your team that can support you in moving forward on your life’s adventure.
According to YPluse, the top two things that Generation Z and Millennials do to have main character energy is to make time for themselves by prioritising mental health and self-care. Having healthy boundaries can allow you to do that.
Before setting off on your journey to gain main character energy, you might also find it useful to map out what things are the most important to you (OK). To achieve main character energy, you’ll want to try to stop fitting into someone else’s expectations and forge your own path based on your viewpoint and values. It’s always a good idea to know what your values are, even if you’re not interested in giving up your NPC energy.
Leave the PvE zone
When living with NPC energy, you can find yourself staying in the safety of the player versus environment (PvE) zone, rather than pushing yourself. When my life was ruled by my anxiety disorders, I was trapped in such PvE zones, and it ruined my life.
You don’t have to “go big or go home”. Going small is fine. But learn to leave the safety of your PvE area so you can experience more of what the world has to offer and add more adventure to your story.
If your NPC energy has taken on a harmful life of its own, so that you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder like I was, then consider trying exposure therapy. If you’re interested in learning more, then check out my three articles on exposure therapy by clicking here, here, and here.
Like any videogame character with main character energy, you need to look after your health and mana (mental health). What good will you be in a boss battle if you don’t come correct? So make sure you look after yourself, which includes exercises such as yoga, self-care, and being aware of warning signs for things like burnout, depression, and anxiety.
Flip the switch
Just because you want to have main character energy, that doesn’t mean you want to embody that all the time (Simplemost). Sometimes you might just want to take it easy with your NPC energy, and that’s perfectly fine. Just think of it as an on-and-off switch you carry in your item bag.
Whether you’re happy with your NPC energy or you want to gain main character energy, happiness lies with internal validation, not external. Get on the grind and create your own happiness in life, rather than relying on getting it from those around you.
Just because you’re living the NPC energy life, doesn’t mean you’re not good with social skills, but it never hurts to polish up on them. It’ll make it easier to network at events and gatherings when you do. Social skills are used every day when we interact with others with our NPC energy or our main character energy. This includes both verbal and non-verbal communication (Kid Sense). So it’s not just what we say, but how we say it, and how we look when we say it.
A few years back while working for a substance misuse charity, I had to have a conversation about an email I sent that came across as being cold and clinical, although that wasn’t my intent. Because of the stage of my borderline personality disorder at the time, I had become so used to removing emotions from everything I did, that I was coming off as cold, I just hadn’t noticed until that point.
Because humans are social animals, having good social skills is important because it helps us communicate our needs, thoughts, and feelings (SkillsYouNeed). If we’re going to prioritise our needs, then having good social skills is important so you can relate your needs to those around you.
Non-verbal communication is a big part of communication, so remember to consider your body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and gestures when interacting with others (Indeed).
The vast majority of people with NPC energy are fully capable of having a conversation, they just might not start the conversation. I know I hate small talk, but it’s often unavoidable, and we have to accept that fact. A simple way to get through any conversation with minimal fuss on your own part is to avoid closed questions as they invite yes or no type of responses (SkillsYouNeed). This limits the conversation.
Instead, use open-end questions. Open-ended questions allow the other person to talk more openly and be more invested in the conversation. For example, instead of saying, “do you like gaming?” you could ask, “what are your hobbies and interests?”
Active listening is something I’ve talked about before in my article about using motivational interviewing to help a loved one. The act of active listening is to focus your attention on the person speaking, avoiding distractions, and not interrupting (Indeed).
Although you might be seeking main character energy, try to avoid falling into the trap that is the spotlight effect. The spotlight effect is where you believe all eyes are on you, and not in a good way. It’s common among those with anxiety and panic disorders. It’s worth remembering that you may be the main character of your story, but everyone else is the main character of their own stories as well.
Living with NPC energy can sometimes lead to you thinking you’re living life on autopilot. You can feel like a background character in some fantastic RPG (role-playing game) whose job it is to help drive someone else’s meaningful existence in beating the final boss. But you don’t have to live a lower quality of life coasting along on NPC energy if that’s how you see your NPC energy. Take on the quest of gaining main character energy, and then learn to use either/or, if and when you feel like it.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with NPC energy and main character energy in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
Safari, H. A., & Harsoyo, A. (2012). Design ond Implementation of Zoopedia: Behaviour of Non Playable Character (NPC) of Tiger Hunting the Prey. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 67, 196-202. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042812053074.
20 thoughts on “NPC Energy: Are You Living Life As A Non-player Character?”
I know about the NPC in gaming but not this way. And first time to know about NPC energy. Learned so much from this post.
Thanks for reading
I’ve been hearing the term NPC being thrown around a lot lately on the internet, and it’s an eye opener for many. The one thing I disagree about is that NPCs emulate introvert energy. I believe that many introverts are deep thinkers and very ambitious in life. There’s several extroverts who might look like they are playing the lead-role in life but are actually NPCs. Extroverts are just better at hiding NPC energy imo. For instance, someone who follows the trends, goes to work to make ends meet and complains they don’t have money (eg. Victim mentality), goes home and binges on Netflix, argues online with ppl about things, and repeats the cycle the next day. That’s not living… that’s just existing. It’s easy to fall into NPC mode and it’s good to become aware of this behaivour, so we can live more meaningful, purposeful lives.
I can certainly see your point on living the mundane daily grind and trolling to feel better about themselves. Thanks for sharing your thoughts
Great post! I’ve actually never heard of NPC energy before, but it makes sense. I think we all experience this from time to time, some more than others. Like you say, if you’re happy then that’s okay – but I think finding ways to be a little more proactive and start conversations, for example, can be very useful too. Thank you for sharing 🙂
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I had not heard of the gaming character analogy, but it makes a lot of sense.
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An interesting insight into something I have heard about but never delved into.
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Very interesting post! I learned something new! But I would say there are a lot of misconceptions about introversion and extroversion in society, in general. Introverts are thinkers and innovators. I don’t think we can put a label of NPC on them broadly. I have seen many extroverts who never take action or take initiative. I’ve seen extroverts with all the talks but no real confidence. I’ve seen extroverts who are not comfortable speaking in front of a crowd or going to the stage for any purpose. I’ve also seen a lot of extroverts who are bad at making good conversation (Speaking for the sake of speaking is one thing, but making a good conversation is another). In fact majority of the extroverts I have met had these same issues. These basic social issues exist in both introverts and extroverts and has nothing to do with being introvert or extrovert. It’s more about exposure and practice. For example, Oprah Winfrey is an introvert and has such amazing communication skills and projects great confidence. Social skills come from practice—for both introverts and extroverts. It’s more about facing the fears and trying to get above them— for everyone. I think NPC can be anyone and I think more or less we all switch between the main character and NPC in different scenarios and situations. Being a main character all the time can become a cause of persistent stress. And being a NPC sometimes can be a crucial part of self-care— as you mentioned as well. 🙂
Thank you for sharing this post! I enjoyed reading it. Thought provoking read! Keep sharing more!
You make a lot of good points. Extroverts and introverts can certainly be broken down into subgroups that account for a lot of the points you made. I may have even touched upon this in my article about what extroverts can learn from introverts. Thanks for sharing your thoughs
Great overview as always! The awareness of the topic is important for deciding what role you want to have in your life and where you want to take action or be passive. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you. You can only ever fail if you decided to never try
It was very interesting for me to learn about NPC Energy. I enjoyed reading your post and thank for sharing this information!
Thanks for reading
I haven’t heard of this before, I don’t game, so maybe that’s why. This post was really in-depth and interesting to learn about the NPC energy. I am sure other gamers will be able to relate. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.
Lauren – bournemouthgirl
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Another really interesting article. I totally agree that it is up to us individually to create happiness. I likened my own anxiety and depression to a game, and I was a disappearing character in my own story. Once realised, I started to take back the lead. It is a process, I think I’ve been described as an introverted extrovert, hence my videos and acting, but do crave silence and peace. I’m also very uncomfortable with small-talk. As Shakespeare wrote, “All the word’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. We are the hero of our life, I think it’s something worth remembering. Excellent stuff as usual, thank you.
I really hate small talk, always have. It’s just so awkward asking questions neither of you really care about. Thank you for sharing your thoughts