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This wacky side hustle can earn you $10,000 per day

The endlessly inventive Gen Z has come up with a new way to make money.

Compilation image of TikTok NPC star @babydoll and a pile of cash to represent side hustle
With this lucrative side hustle, TikTok NPC star @babydoll makes up to $10,500 per live stream. (Source: TikTok, Getty)

Who needs a nine-to-five job when you can pretend to be an NPC (Non-Player Character) on TikTok as a lucrative side hustle?

Welcome to 2023, where the digital realm continues to blur the lines of reality, and Gen Z is leading the charge. Forget avocado toast, this might just be the craziest Gen-Z money-making scheme yet.

Every once in a while, a trend explodes on social media that leaves us both intrigued and scratching our heads. Such as NPC live streaming. To the uninitiated, it's a growing trend where TikTokers pretend to be characters from video games, reacting in a preset way whenever someone donates to them. Think of them as human vending machines: Insert coin, get reaction.


The payoff? Some of these virtual performers are raking in thousands of dollars a day. Take user @pinkydoll for example who told the NYTimes she was making up to US$7,000 (AU$10,500) per livestream.

This isn't just about a quick buck, though. The trend highlights a fascinating intersection of nostalgia, gaming culture, and the sheer unpredictability of internet fame. As the digital age progresses, so does our creativity in navigating its vast landscape.

But, why, oh why, would someone want to mimic a computerised character for the whole world to see? Well, there are a couple of compelling reasons:

  • Easy money: With the cost of living skyrocketing, especially in cities like Sydney and Melbourne, any innovative avenue to earn cash is welcome. If someone is willing to pay you to pretend to be a shopkeeper from a 1990s game, why not?

  • Viral potential: TikTok’s algorithm loves quirky content. Go viral, and that $5,000 could easily turn into $15,000.

  • It's hilarious: It's a lighthearted, cheeky nod to our shared gaming experiences. It brings a sprinkle of nostalgia for those who grew up with classic video games.

Of course, the NPC trend isn’t the first (and certainly won’t be the last) wacky way to earn money on social media. Remember back when people were selling jars of 'fresh air' to those living in polluted cities? Or when influencers were paid to dye their hair the exact shade of a popular soft drink brand?

But at the heart of all these trends lies a universal truth: our generation is endlessly inventive. As traditional pathways to income become more challenging to navigate, Gen Z finds new, unexpected routes to financial freedom.

The name of the game is innovation and, as long as there are viewers, donors, and an algorithm to please, creators will keep pushing the limits. And given the current state of the economy and the allure of financial independence, can we blame them?

If pretending to be an NPC keeps the landlord off your back and adds a bit of laughter to our feeds, then game on.

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