In video games, a Non-Player Character is controlled by the game’s predetermined logic. By contrast, a player-character, being the player’s avatar, can think for itself. The NPC wojak represents a person who doesn’t think for themself—for instance, someone who espouses mainstream media narratives verbatim or blithely adopts autofill like “in these unprecedented times” and “hoping this finds you well.” NPCs generally enjoy dining in OLD TOWNES.
Daniel Keller: Maybe this is talking about dead memes. You briefly cover Wojak, but you don't go into so much depth. I wonder if there's a similarly rich context in his history. I know that it came from a [image] board directly, from I guess a Polish version of 4chan, do you know?
Arthur Jones: We do show that meme of like the alone together Wojak. And he's blank. I mean, he's the “feels” guy. I think obviously the NPC meme, you know, became like a wilder weaponized use of Wojak. I don't know too much about his background. But where I first saw Wojak was on r/9k. And he's a really malleable character that's used in all sorts of different ways. That was something we really just discovered in the edit. We didn't think that Wojak was going to be part of the story. And then, you know, when different people talked about him in interviews, and Aaron (our editor) put in this whole section about Wojak, it really kind of like helped you understand the mentality of 4chan in a way that's maybe a little bit more relatable than the crazy frog looking character. Just because he's an easier to understand drawing.
DK: And also, he just never got canceled in the same way even though he was used for a lot of the same purposes. And I don't know if that's just because it's a human face, it's more blank. I don't exactly know what it is about him. It doesn't have as rich of a history as Pepe so I don't know if there would be the same story to tell as far as original intent.
LIL INTERNET: Well there’s no human creator where it got out of his hands, it all came from chan culture right?
AJ: Completely, and I think it's managed to stay like a lot more underground than Pepe. Whereas Pepe had this moment of mainstream virality, normie virality, I don't know if Wojak’s gone normie—ever. There's also been kind of a self-consciousness with Wojak. Like people started to push this NPC meme. For instance Alex Jones had an Info Wars fan competition where people would come up with their own NPC versions of memes and that's just not really the way memes work, they kind of have to be this organic thing.