[[quoteright:280:[[VideoGame/NeverwinterNights http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Char_creation_6938.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:280:[[AHeroIsBorn It all starts]] [[CharacterCustomization somewhere...]]]]

This concept represents the in-game character controlled by the player--as opposed to {{Non Player Character}}s who aren't. Typically the game puts you in charge of at least one entity, but the extent to which that entity ''is'' an actual character, as opposed to being a FeaturelessProtagonist or NonEntityGeneral, depends on the genre, the game, the game's developers, and even (if CharacterCustomization is available) the player him- or herself. Our page on PlayerAndProtagonistIntegration has more details on the different points along the scale that are possible here.

Sometimes, the term PC only refers to TheProtagonist, particularly if they are created by the player, while {{NPC}} is used even for [[PlayerParty other party members]] who the player still controls but are preexisting characters within the game world, rather than a personal avatar. For more information on possible PC/NPC party configurations, see PlayerCharacterCalculus.

It's a curious thing, but most [=PCs=] in tabletop [=RPGs=] have a sort of personality archetype that applies regardless of the genre of the game the [=PCs=] are in or the personalities of the people playing them. They tend to be:
* {{Sociopathic|Hero}}, only caring about what benefits the party (or in some cases, just themselves)
* [[ItsAllAboutMe Self-important]], often striding into the spotlight regardless of how appropriate that would be to the situation they're in
* [[SpannerInTheWorks Unpredictable,]] constantly frustrating or amazing the GM with [[IndyPloy tricks]] and [[XanatosSpeedChess strategies]] that nobody could have anticipated
* CrazyAwesome; due to the nature of such games, [=PCs=] tend to either [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome succeed magnificently]] or [[StuffBlowingUp fail]] [[TotalPartyKill spectacularly]]

This largely stems from the [=PCs=] being [[TheoryOfNarrativeCausality the main characters in their story]] and, more importantly, ''[[GenreSavvy knowing it]]''.

Finally, a wise word to all tropers: don't conflate Player Characters with players. [[Franchise/StreetFighter Ryu]] punches Ken, Ryu does not punch ''the player''. Unless [[RefugeeFromTVLand something has gone horribly wrong]]. Or [[PlayerPunch something has gone horribly right]].