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TikTok sensation PinkyDollTikTok

What is NPC streaming, and why is everyone so obsessed with it?

Ice cream so good! TikToker PinkyDoll has taken the world by storm with her hypnotic catchphrases and gestures – here’s everything you need to know about this strange new trend

Gang gang. Ice cream so good. Ice cream so good. Yes yes yes! Yes yes yes! Gang gang. Ice cream so good.

Gang gang. Ice cream so good. Ice cream so good. Yes yes yes! Yes yes yes! Gang gang. Ice cream so good.

These words have been echoing around my head since I first heard them last week. In his 1996 novel Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace imagined a film that was so entertaining, so pleasurable and so addictive that everyone who views it loses all sense of space and time, eschews all other activities, and rewatches it compulsively until they die. Almost 30 years later, his prophecy has finally been fulfilled, in the unlikely form of a Quebecois TikToker who goes by PinkyDoll. No one has died yet, admittedly, but many of our brains have been rewired, possibly forever, by her siren song. Ice cream so good. Gang gang. Yes yes yes.

If you haven’t seen these videos yet, they depict a series of TikTok Lives in which PinkyDoll repeats the same set of catchphrases and gestures. However random this appears at first glance, she is responding to “gifts” which viewers are paying to send. Sometimes, she pops individual kernels of popcorn with a hair straightener, which has itself been a popular TikTok trend for a while. Having started out streaming earlier this year, she burst into the mainstream last week, when someone screen-grabbed one of her videos and tweeted it with the caption, “I was just scrolling TikTok and I just wanna say.. some of you bitches are literally psychotic.” The video – and others liked it – soon racked up millions of views, and the internet lost its mind. People struggled to figure out what exactly they were watching, but still found themselves unable to resist its hypnotic pull.

Along with creators like Cherry Crush and @natuecoco, a Japanese woman who started the trend, Pinky Rose has been described as an ‘NPC streamer’’ – which refers to the background characters in video games which players cannot control, and which are only capable of a stock set of actions and phrases. Here’s everything you need to know about this bizarre new trend.


On the one hand, no: there’s nothing overtly sexual about the streams, and technically there couldn’t be – sexually suggestive content is banned by TikTok. A big part of the appeal is their hypnotic, repetitive nature, which isn’t necessarily erotic at all: as a gay guy with no skin in the game, I still find them addictive. Both PinkyDoll and Cherry Crush have OnlyFans, but that doesn’t mean everything they do is sex work.

On the other hand, it’s no coincidence that the streamers involved are all good-looking young women (there are no schlubby straight guys in sight). Plenty of commentators have argued that the underlying appeal is rooted in kink: as TikTok user eBaum’s World suggested, these videos appeal to people with a ‘control fetish’, who take pleasure in commanding other people as though they are characters in video games. Taking this further, some view these streams as inherently dehumanising: they’re about treating real-life women as objects with no agency or interiority. Which doesn’t sound like something men would do??


Probably quite a lot, particularly since their audience has exploded within the last week. PinkyDoll’s TikTok following has shot up to 216k and, according to PopCrave, her number one viewer is hip-hop artist Timbaland, who will be able to afford a lot of stickers. 

But the gifts themselves are not that expensive: one TikTok coin is around $0.01, and will buy you one ‘ice cream’ or ‘gang gang’. Some of the other options – like the hat or moustache – are more expensive (around 99 coins), but PinkyDoll would have to say ‘gang gang’ 100 times just to make a single dollar. She will still be raking it in, but not without hours of tireless streaming – she deserves a hero’s wage.


The explosive popularity of this content – even as a short-lived internet curio – can’t be entirely explained by kink. Something else about these videos has grabbed our attention. For a start, PinkyDoll is a magnetic presence; she has a voice like honey, an ineffable star quality. However chaotic the videos might be, there’s something soothing about them – it’s like they’re turning your brain to mush, but in a relaxing way. No more thoughts, no more yearning, no more suffering, just ice cream, gang gang, yes yes yes.

This is not the first NPC trend to emerge in recent years: after starting out as a right-wing slur, commonly used against ‘brain-washed’ liberals, the term has been embraced by creators. As Dazed’s Günseli Yalcinkaya argued, this development reflects the increasing digitisation of our lives and the growing popularity of simulation theory – the idea that we are all existing in a Matrix-style computer game. The NPC archetype is a way of embracing the absurdity of a fraught, anxious world.

These videos also feel like the logical endpoint of algorithmic entertainment, designed purely to capture our attention and boost engagement. It’s the experience of mindlessly scrolling through TikTok, distracted by bright colors and pleasing sounds, in its purest and most concentrated form. Similar to the Family Guy TikTok videos, which stitch together scenes from the cartoon with random footage from video games and ASMR clips, the NPC streams are so overstimulating that they produce a kind of dissociative effect. Along with the repetitive gestures and phrases, the colourful stickers flashing on the screen in rapid succession create the sense of an endless present, where the ice cream is always so good, gang gang, yes yes yes. 

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