Try a Trend: Inktober and NPCs as main characters
Oct 31, 2023 – minute read
In this series, we surface some top trends that our experts are seeing around the world on YouTube. Whether you’re looking for inspiration for your next video, general YouTube knowledge, or opportunities to get ahead of rising trends, here are some key trends and insights to chew on.
What this is: Inktober is a 31-day art challenge started by illustrator Jake Parker in 2009 that challenges artists to produce a new ink drawing every single day, inspired by single word prompts. The purpose of the challenge is to inspire professional artists and hobbyists alike to step out of their artistic comfort zones and produce experimental, on-the-spot art pieces. Inktober has become an annual event and has steadily grown every year as more art creators have thrown their hat into the ring. So far, this October, over 17,000 videos with “Inktober” in the title have been uploaded.
Why this matters: Inktober is an example of both a seasonal endemic trend on YouTube, similar to “vlogmas’, and a niche community, similar to BookTube. Both are entry points that allow creators and viewers to find, challenge, and connect with likeminded individuals around the world, not tied to specific cultural or media moments.
Whatever your passion, don’t underestimate the power of shared interests that exist in niche topics, and leverage those to be part of something bigger.
What it is: There’s been a rise of content that captures people finding joyful moments in their everyday lives. One way creators are doing this is by turning small moments and everyday tasks into a cinematic main character moment for themselves, such as a stroll through the neighborhood or paying rent. Meanwhile, “the art of noticing” encourages creators to lean into the quieter moments in their daily lives and gives viewers a glimpse of things that feel a bit more intimate and vulnerable.
Why this matters: Similar to the Wes Anderson trend earlier this year, the trend of creators romanticizing the mundane and embracing smaller moments has reclaimed the narrative that creators need large events to make fun content. This content feels accessible and easy to participate in for the everyday casual creator while also giving space for uniqueness and creativity.
What this is: One of the most common tools in game design has made its way into the online lexicon: the NPC, or non-player character. A non-playable character, or “NPC,” is a video game term referring to peripheral and powerless characters on screen. Videos with “an NPC” in the title have been viewed over 190 million times this year, and have inspired many trends including tutorials on how to move like one, or Shorts trends where real people attempt to act like an NPC in public spaces.
Why this matters: Concepts from video games have become mainstream metaphors. In the same way that the language of show business — “the limelight,” a “last act,” a “blockbuster” — seeped into everyday conversation in the 20th century, ideas from video games — nerfs, glitches, and level 99 bosses — now permeate social media. Don’t be afraid to incorporate references to gaming in content, regardless of the vertical, as it’s part of culture now.
What this is: Fantasy aesthetics experienced a noticeable surge in interest in 2023, with fairycore, mermaidcore/sirencore, and Renaissance Faire content finding new creators and audiences primarily through YouTube Shorts. Showing up across a wide array of verticals, the emergence of these trends highlights how creators and audiences use these aesthetics to evaluate their identities, escape from day-to-day life, and delve deeper into fantasy fandoms. So far this year, videos with either "Sirencore," "Mermaidcore," or "Fairycore" have been viewed over 30 million times.
Why this matters: Aesthetics allow creators to express themselves in fun, unique ways while also building community amongst other like-minded individuals. These fantasy aesthetics intermingle with other subcultures and aesthetics that have been particularly popular like cottagecore, dark academia, and cosplay, making it a fresh interpretation of the aesthetics before it.