Player character
A player character or playable character (PC) is a character
Character (arts)
A character is the representation of a person in a narrative work of art . Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr , the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of...

 in a video game or role playing game who is controlled or controllable by a player
Player (game)
A player of a game is a participant therein. The term 'player' is used with this same meaning both in game theory and in ordinary recreational games....

, and is typically a protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

 of the story told in the course of the game. A player character is a persona of the player who controls it. Player characters are often also metonym
Metonymy is a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept...

ically called players. Some video games only have one player character, others, especially two player games have two, or another small number of player characters to choose from, one for each player. Where more than one player character is available, the characters may have slightly or completely different abilities
Attribute (role-playing games)
An attribute is a piece of data that describes to what extent a fictional character in a role-playing game possesses a specific natural, in-born characteristic common to all characters in the game. That piece of data is usually an abstract number or, in some cases, a set of dice...

, strengths and weaknesses to make the game play style different. Games such as fighting game
Fighting game
Fighting game is a video game genre where the player controls an on-screen character and engages in close combat with an opponent. These characters tend to be of equal power and fight matches consisting of several rounds, which take place in an arena. Players must master techniques such as...

s typically have a larger amount of player characters to choose from, with some basic moves available to all or most characters and some unique moves only available to one or a few characters. Fighting games often have no unique levels
Level (computer and video games)
A level, map, area, or world in a video game is the total space available to the player during the course of completing a discrete objective...

 to travel through only combat, so having many different characters to play with and against, that possess different moves and abilities is necessary to create a larger gameplay variety that other games may get with different levels.


A player character may sometimes be based on a real person, especially in sports game
Sports game
A sports game is a computer or video game that simulates the practice of traditional sports. Most sports have been recreated with a game, including team sports, athletics and extreme sports. Some games emphasize actually playing the sport , whilst others emphasize strategy and organization...

s that use the names and likenesses of real sports people. Historical people and leaders may sometimes appear as characters too, particularly in strategy
Strategy game
A strategy game or strategic game is a game in which the players' uncoerced, and often autonomous decision-making skills have a high significance in determining the outcome...

 or empire building
4X games are a genre of strategy video game in which players control an empire and "explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate." The term was first coined by Alan Emrich in his September 1993 preview of Master of Orion for Computer Gaming World...

 games such as in Sid Meier
Sid Meier
Sidney K. "Sid" Meier is a Canadian programmer and designer of several popular computer strategy games, most notably Civilization. He has won accolades for his contributions to the computer games industry...

's Civilization
Civilization (computer game)
Sid Meier's Civilization is a turn-based strategy "4X"-type strategy video game created by Sid Meier and Bruce Shelley for MicroProse in 1991. The game's objective is to "Build an empire to stand the test of time": it begins in 4000 BC and the players attempt to expand and develop their empires...

series. Curiously, in the case of Civilization, a player's chosen historical character is the same throughout the course of the game despite the fact that a campaign
Campaign (role-playing games)
In role-playing games, a campaign is a continuing storyline or set of adventures, typically involving the same characters. The purpose of the continuing storyline is to introduce a further aspect into the game: that of development, improvement, and growth of the characters. In a campaign, a...

 can last several hundred years before and after the lifetime of the real historical persona. Such a player character is more properly an avatar
Avatar (computing)
In computing, an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user's alter ego or character. It may take either a three-dimensional form, as in games or virtual worlds, or a two-dimensional form as an icon in Internet forums and other online communities. It can also refer to a text...

 as the player character's name and image typically have little bearing on the game itself. Avatars are also commonly seen in casino
In modern English, a casino is a facility which houses and accommodates certain types of gambling activities. Casinos are most commonly built near or combined with hotels, restaurants, retail shopping, cruise ships or other tourist attractions...

 game simulations.

Role-playing games

In role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons or Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy
is a media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and is developed and owned by Square Enix . The franchise centers on a series of fantasy and science-fantasy role-playing video games , but includes motion pictures, anime, printed media, and other merchandise...

a player typically creates or takes on the identity of a character that may have nothing in common with the player. The character is usually of a certain (often fictional) race and class (such as warrior or magic user), each with strengths and weaknesses. The attributes of the characters (such as magic and fighting ability) are given as numerical values which can be increased as the gamer progresses and gains rank and experience points through accomplishing goals or fighting enemies.

Adventure games

In many computer adventure game
Adventure game
An adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving instead of physical challenge. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media such as literature and film,...

s, and especially first-person shooter
First-person shooter
First-person shooter is a video game genre that centers the gameplay on gun and projectile weapon-based combat through first-person perspective; i.e., the player experiences the action through the eyes of a protagonist. Generally speaking, the first-person shooter shares common traits with other...

s, the player character is an anonymous person with no character history or backstory. Typically, this is intentionally done by the game creators so that the player may simply imagine themself in the adventure without being required to play a character who is of a different age, race, gender, or background. The Stranger in the Myst
Myst is a graphic adventure video game designed and directed by the brothers Robyn and Rand Miller. It was developed by Cyan , a Spokane, Washington––based studio, and published and distributed by Brøderbund. The Millers began working on Myst in and released it for the Mac OS computer on September...

franchise is such a character. In most such games, the player character has no onscreen dialogue and non-player character
Non-player character
A non-player character , sometimes known as a non-person character or non-playable character, in a game is any fictional character not controlled by a player. In electronic games, this usually means a character controlled by the computer through artificial intelligence...

s will typically address the player as though they don't expect a verbal response. They will never call the player character by name and will always address the player in a gender-neutral form. This is also frequently found in real-time strategy
Real-time strategy
Real-time strategy is a sub-genre of strategy video game which does not progress incrementally in turns. Brett Sperry is credited with coining the term to market Dune II....

 games such as Dune 2000
Dune 2000
Dune 2000 is a real-time strategy video game, released by Westwood Studios in 1998 for Microsoft Windows, and later ported to the PlayStation. It is a partial remake of Dune II, which is also based on Frank Herbert's Dune universe. The story of the game is similar to Dune II, and is continued in...

 and Emperor: Battle for Dune
Emperor: Battle for Dune
Emperor: Battle for Dune is a Dune video game, released by Westwood Studios on June 12, 2001. It is based in Frank Herbert's science fiction Dune universe....

. In such games, the only real indication that the player has a character (instead of an omnipresent status), is from the cutscene
A cutscene is a sequence in a video game over which the player has no or only limited control, breaking up the gameplay and used to advance the plot, strengthen the main character's development, introduces enemy characters, and provide background information, atmosphere, dialogue, and clues...

s during which the character is being given a mission briefing or debriefing; the player is usually addressed as "general", "commander", or another military rank. In gaming culture, such a character was called Ageless, Faceless, Gender-Neutral, Culturally Ambiguous Adventure Person, abbreviated as AFGNCAAP ; a term that originated in Zork: Grand Inquisitor where it is used satirically to refer to the player. Such games are also known for lacking mirrors that a player may directly look into.

Non-player and secret characters

In contrast, a non-player character
Non-player character
A non-player character , sometimes known as a non-person character or non-playable character, in a game is any fictional character not controlled by a player. In electronic games, this usually means a character controlled by the computer through artificial intelligence...

 (often shortened to NPC) is a character in a game whose actions are not under the player's control. Non-playable characters may be bystanders, competitors, bosses
Boss (video games)
A boss is an enemy-based challenge which is found in video games. A fight with a boss character is commonly referred to as a boss battle or boss fight...

, or may exist to aid the player's progress in the game.

A secret character
Secret character
A secret character can be a player character or a non-player character in a video game that must be unlocked by completing a goal within the game...

 may be a playable character in a video game available after completing the game or meeting other requirements. In some video games, characters that are not secret but appear only as non-player characters like boss
Boss (video games)
A boss is an enemy-based challenge which is found in video games. A fight with a boss character is commonly referred to as a boss battle or boss fight...

es or enemies become playable characters, after completing certain requirements, or sometimes cheating
Cheating (video games)
Cheating in video games involves a video game player using non-standard methods for creating an advantage beyond normal gameplay, usually to make the game easier, or may also create unusual effects which do not necessarily make the game easier to play, such as giving characters different...

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