Why We Care About Video Game Characters

Just because they’re fictional characters doesn’t mean we can’t care about them — obviously, everyone knows that. But there are reasons that that’s true, you know! Scientific reasons, even.

PBS Game/Show explains why we sometimes deeply care about game characters here, and then even lists some of their favourite non-playable characters in games. Makes me curious — what are some of your favourite NPCs? Why do you like them so much?

My top two would have to be Morrigan from Dragon Age (she is a strong, complicated character with an agenda of her own) and basically the entire cast of Persona 4 (WAAAAH WE ATE WATERMELON TOGETHER AND SAVED THE WORLD WITH FRIENDSHIP).

What about you?

Who Are the 10 Best NPCs of All Time? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios [PBS Game/Show]


  • I find that I care more for my horses and animal followers in Skyrim (and people too) or Red Dead than I do for any of the characters in the Walking Dead, largely, because I don’t see the the former as being complete idiots.

    • Horses always became a good source for skin and weapon practice in early game. Also cheap to get (aka stealing them).

  • Is Morrigan really an NPC? I mean sure, the party members in Dragon Age have some autonomy, but you can also have complete control over them in combat.

  • The dog from Nethack was an unexpected and interesting choice.

    Personally, as much as I loved having the little guy rob shopkeepers blind for me, I never got too attached to him. Probably because a new pet was too easy obtain provided you had a tripe ration or a fortune cookie.

    Although losing a cat/dog that you’d successfully polymorphed into something kick-arse like a dragon or a minotaur was always somewhat heart breaking. In the same way as dropping your phone in the toilet while you’re taking a piss is heart breaking.

  • Agro from Shadow of the Colossus. Yeah the horse. Mostly because she is your companion for most of the game and helped kick giant animate rock butt. My heart jumped to my throat when we crossed that bridge…

    I had the feels for a lot of Mass Effect characters too. I believe that is mostly having spent a lot of time with them. You are paired with some rather interesting aliens and throughout the trilogy you see them evolve into something more. Wrex going from a rough mercenary to a clan leader hellbent on saving his race. Liara from a naive scientist to a underworld information mogel etc..

  • Minsc from the Baldurs Gate games. BUTT KICKING FOR GOODNESS!!! He doesn’t fit most of the things the video says are great in an NPC, but good luck finding somebody who played BG who didn’t adore his character.

    Mordin Solus from Mass Effect 2 & 3. A genuine portrayal of conflicted morality in an NPC.

    HK-47 from KOTOR.

    • “Go for the eyes Boo, GO FOR THE EYES! RrraaaAAGHGHH!!!” Gave him Lilacor (the talking sword) and many reloads later, made sure it was they who killed the dragon.

      Also completely agree re Mordin. Considered completely reversing Shep’s morality because of Mordin. But it had to be him. Someone else might have gotten it wrong. 🙁

  • My favorite NPC is the hamster in the Maniac Mansion series – microwaves, frozen, made to power time travel devices.. How awesome is that?

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