For those who might not know, ‘NPC’ is a video game term that stands for ‘non-player character’. It’s exactly what it sounds like: It refers to all the characters in the game world that aren’t your playable protagonist. By virtue of their function in games, as well as the limitations of the technology of the early video games that established many norms, there are certain tropes associated with NPCs: Repetitive dialogue, stilted movements, minimal characterisation. An NPC waits for the player to discover them. They’ll be standing, or be otherwise occupied, in their little area of the game world, waiting for you to happen upon them. When you do, you can press a button to engage them in a dialogue that will usually either lead to some lore-expanding material, or you being offered a quest. ‘Hero, I know you’re on an urgent world-saving journey of paramount importance, but please help me round up my escaped cows! I’ll pay 15 whole silver pieces!’ is the old joke about NPC quests. In modern video games, however, NPCs are now often as well written and developed as the main cast, and their quests are sometimes some of the most memorable parts of the title they find themselves in.
Viva La Dirt League are a YouTube comedy sketch group. The videos are well-produced and acted but if I’m being honest, most of their bits don’t do very much for me. The majority of their skits are video game-based, so as a fan of the medium they do elicit the ‘slightly amused exhalation of breath’ reaction out of me just by virtue of parodying tropes I’m familiar with, but that’s about it usually. But they do have one video in which all the stars align: ‘Falling too hard for an NPC.’ It’s exactly what it sounds like, but with so much more emotional heft than you could possibly expect! Look:
It’s fu*king perfect! What an arc! Both actors are absolutely perfect here, doing so much with their expressions. And that music. And that look in her eyes and smile at the end after he accepts the quest—she remembered, somewhere deep down she remembered!
Header Image Source: YouTube