[[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.

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, ''[[DangerouslyGenreSavvy 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]].