Home Lifestyle Is it a fetish? Why TikTokers are pretending to be robots and...

Is it a fetish? Why TikTokers are pretending to be robots and saying ‘ice cream so good’

278

It’s a new trend that has popped up on the internet over the last few months: Live-streaming yourself on TikTok while saying strange phrases robotically.

On TikTok, a woman named Pinkydoll with a thousand-yard stare faces you, undulating just enough to let you know she’s alive. Her chants now echo across the internet. Picture: TikTok screenshot

It’s a new trend that has popped up on the internet over the last few months: Live-streaming yourself on TikTok while saying strange phrases robotically.

Analysis by Gene Park

ON TikTok, a woman named Pinkydoll with a thousand-yard stare faces you, undulating just enough to let you know she’s alive. Her chants now echo across the internet.

“Ice cream so good. Gang gang. Yes yes yes. Wow you got me feeling like a cowgirl. Gang gang. Ice cream so good.”

It’s a new trend that has popped up on the internet over the last few months: Live-streaming yourself on TikTok while saying strange phrases robotically.

During the streams, fans pay to leave the creators monetary tips, and as a tip shows up as an icon in the comments, it prompts the creator to respond.

For instance, when you pay for a tip and leave an ice cream cone icon, she says “ice cream so good,” and if you pay for a “GG” icon, she says “gang gang.”

Her robotic tone imitates something called an NPC, or non-playable character in videogames.

!function(e,t,r){let n;if(e.getElementById(r))return;const o=e.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0];n=e.createElement(“script”),n.id=r,n.defer=!0,n.type=”module”,n.src=”https://playback.oovvuu.media/player/v2/index.js”,o.parentNode.insertBefore(n,o)}(document,0,”oovvuu-player-sdk-v2″);

It’s the latest evolution of virtual tipping on the internet, and sits at the intersection of gaming culture and sex work. Here are answers to some questions you might have.

What is an NPC?

In videogames, non-playable characters are people who your player character encounters.

They’re often programmed to simulate some aspect of everyday life. NPCs are shopkeepers, bystanders, maybe even presidents.

They can be window dressing, or sometimes they’re really important.

For example, in a “The Legend of Zelda” video game, you don’t play as the titular Princess Zelda, you play as the hero Link, who can talk with Zelda.

Thus, Zelda is an NPC. They’re like the robots in the HBO show “Westworld,” created to fulfil an immersive, make-believe fantasy.

“NPC behaviour” has become a derogatory phrase referring to someone who doesn’t appear to think for themselves, whether it’s following social norms or exhibiting cult-like behaviour.

It’s used to refer to everything from repeating your favourite politician’s claims without question to stopping at a red light.

These streamers who imitate NPCs are often seen bouncing up and down, making repeated movements for certain prompts, like slurping up ice cream on command.

This body movement is meant to imitate NPC “idle animation.”

Mimicking NPC behaviour has been a popular comedy trope on the internet for years, especially since NPCs often glitch out and create unexpected, hilarious incidents.

YouTube comedian CalebCity in 2018 performed a sketch in which an NPC taxi driver asks him a question, and because he missed the question and fails to answer, the driver sits motionless except for his head bobbing up and down as the traffic light turns green.

How does tipping on TikTok work?

In 2021, TikTok introduced its tipping feature, where users can spend money buying virtual coins. It’s now 29 cents to buy 20 coins, and $250 (about R4.5K) for 16,500 coins.

When a TikTok creator has a live stream, users can use those coins to buy one of many icons (Attaching the icons’ prices to coins, not real-life dollars, is a common online economy trick to obscure spending to the consumer.)

@terrijoequeefqueen #pinkydoll #fypシ #makemefamous #makemeviral #makemefamousfromthisonetiktok #pinkydollslives #yellingatdogs #ganggang#ohhyougotmefeelinlikeAcowgirlletmerideit #icecream ♬ original sound – 👹💩

As viewers buy an icon, the symbols appear on screen as visual acknowledgement of the tip.

The creator will also typically react to the image. Pinkydoll says phrases like “ice cream so good” and “gang gang” hundreds of times because those icons cost a single coin, just over a penny each time. It’s the cheapest possible thrill.

How did TikTok tipping lead to NPC streaming?

Internet trends encyclopedia site Know Your Meme cites Japanese TikTok creator Natuecoco as probably the first person to begin the trend of streaming as an interactive non-playable character.

In early 2022, she began live-streaming herself wearing cat ears, bouncing up and down in the “idle animation” and reacting to tips.

Since then, creators like Pinkydoll have become popular creating their own twists on the concept.

I spent a single coin to send a “lightning bolt” icon to a creator named Juicyhairinc, who also runs a wig business, and she responded by grunting loudly and pretended to get electrocuted.

Her loud moans crackled through my phone in the newsroom as I frantically lowered the volume in fear of violating office decency standards.

So is NPC streaming, like, a fetish?

Kind of and probably. It’s impossible to say how much of the viewing audience finds NPC streaming sexually arousing, but it’s hard not to see that these streamers are portraying objectified interactive dolls that do your bidding.

Men also stream themselves as part of this trend too, but the women have gained the most viral attention outside of TikTok. (The Post has put in a request to talk with Pinkydoll.)

One of the biggest creators of this trend, Cherry Crush of Florida, is an online sex worker and adult performer.

On Twitch, which introduced tipping in 2016, viewers can tip their favourite creators as a show of appreciation, and creator etiquette demands that they acknowledge the tip on stream.

But online “cam model” platforms, which feature people using webcams to film themselves performing sexual acts at the behest of tipping viewers, are the true innovators, going back to the 1990s.

Previous articleMkhwebane responds to social media critics by posting her own performance review
Next articleCelebrities use power of social media as a new picket line for Hollywood strike