Non-people, Non-places, Non-things
The NPC, or non-player character, is a concept from video games that has become a useful, or at least amusing, metaphor for real world behavior. In a game, an NPC is exactly what the name describes: a character not controlled by a human player, whose actions are scripted and part of the game’s underlying code. Any apparent randomness or unpredictability these characters exhibit is an illusion—the product of the deterministic logic that guides them. Outside of the video game context, NPC is a derogatory way of describing a real person who behaves like a programmed or scripted character.
It’s been about 20 years since I played video games regularly, but one thing I remember about NPCs in ‘90s games was that they would always be located in the same place, or pacing back and forth along a defined route (I assume their behavior is more complex now). These characters worked in a shop, or always loitered on a certain block, or consistently sat in the same seat at a bar. The predictability of their location was an important aspect of the gameplay. In general, NPCs should be easy to find.