The 10 Best Video Game Memes Ever
Ever since Atari introduced ‘Pong’ more than 40 years ago, video games have become an immensely popular form of home entertainment. But their legacy isn’t simply ruined eyesight, carpal tunnel syndrome and short attention spans. They’ve also profoundly changed the way we think and even given us new ways to communicate.
Many of the early adopters of the internet were gamers, so it’s no surprise that some of the Web’s oldest memes take their inspiration from games. As evidence, check out our list of the 10 best video game memes below. Even if you’re not a gamer, you’re probably aware of at least several of these and maybe even used a few in your lifetime.
I Am Sworn to Carry Your Burdens
As a companion in ‘Skyrim,’ Lydia participates in battles and even hauls your gear. But as any player knows, organizing items in the NPC’s inventory results in her impatiently uttering, “I am sworn to carry your burdens” almost every time.
And nothing you can do will improve upon Lydia’s foul mood. Go ahead and reward her with a rare set of Daedric armor, for example, and she’ll still complain. Given how often Lydia says the phrase, it makes total sense that it wormed its way into pop culture and emerged as a meme. Doesn’t make it any less annoying, though.
Weegee is a Photoshop meme based on an unintentionally sinister likeness of Luigi found in the educational DOS video game ‘Mario is Missing,’ which was released in 1992. Just place Weegee, with his terrifying, unblinking gaze, in any photo and — presto! — you’ve got an awkward image to beat all others.
Even worse, Weegee has also been the subject of facebombs, since his dead-eyed stare has the power to turn others into a carbon copy of himself. Pedobear has nothing on this guy in terms of sheer creepiness.
It’s Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This
Coined by the old man character in the original ‘Legend of Zelda’ for the NES in 1986, this meme first began in approximately 2006 with the image above. But this adorable fuzzy kitty came packing a nasty surprise — an embedded RAR file containing viruses. Since then, the meme has become relatively harmless and has spawned dozens and dozens of variations, none of which will require antivirus software.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us
By far one of the most popular video game memes, “All your base are belong to us” came from the opening cutscene of the poorly-translated Japanese video game ‘Zero Wing,’ a side-scrolling arcade shooter released in 1991 for the Sega Mega Drive.
Since then, the catchphrase has appeared in articles, books, movies, radio shows, TV and even other video games. One of its most popular appearances was in the music video above by TribalWar forums user Bad_CRC, which has itself been remixed more times than we can count.
Do a Barrel Roll!
‘Starfox’ fans will immediately recognize “Do a barrel roll!” as the command which Peppy Hare issues in the 1997 game for the N64. Today, the phrase is synonymous with getting oneself out of a sticky situation and lives on in an array of meme-tastic images.
The phrase gained some additional notoriety in 2006, when it was frequently used by 4Chan pranksters calling into Tom Green’s internet TV show. More recently, Google paid homage to the meme in late 2011. Just go to the search engine and enter the phrase for a nifty (and dizzying) surprise.
I Took An Arrow in the Knee
Professional athletes have to worry about career-ending injuries like torn ACLs. What do adventurers in ‘Skyrim’ have to worry about? An arrow to the knee, of course. After all, as random guards all over the fantasy world repeatedly tell us, nothing will end the dungeon-crawling dreams of a hero faster. Despite the fact that the game was released more than a year ago, the meme still has legs (pun!) today.
The Cake is a Lie
In the awesome video game ‘Portal,’ murderous AI GlaDOS repeatedly promises protagonist Chell yummy cake if she successfully completes all test chambers. But, alas, the cake is nothing but a ruse used by GlaDOS as a motivational tool. Now, the catchphrase is used to represent the notion that a promised reward will never materialize.
You Have Died of Dysentery
‘Oregon Trail’ is an educational computer game that was distributed in public schools in the 80s and 90s and was meant to teach children about the rigors of early pioneer life. Players were expected to manage resources as they ushered a wagon train from Minnesota to Oregon in 1848. Along the way, players hunted for food and often fell victim to measles, snakebite, typhoid, cholera, exhaustion and, yes, dysentery.
The phrase “You have died of dysentery” has since been popularized on everything from t-shirts to tote bags to buttons. After all, nothing’s more important for kids than learning about an inflammatory intestinal disorder.
im in ur base killin ur doodz
One of the most popular cat-related memes ever owes its existence to the game ‘StarCraft’ and a random entry on the SomethingAwful forums. In 2003, a screenshot of the game was posted on the forum showing an in-game chat where one player boasted, “im in ur base killin ur doodz.”
From there, the LOLcat phenomenon latched onto the catchphase and pictures of kitties were suddenly everywhere “eatin ur waffelz,” “invstigatin ur sox,” “blocking ur drainage” and — our personal favorite — “heatin ur undiez.”
This phrase from the ultra-violent fighting game ‘Mortal Kombat’ was a thing even before the internet appropriated the term “meme.” Heck, since the game was released in 1992, it even predates mainstream use of the internet itself. And yet, everybody knows this catchphrase as a signifier for an impending coup de grace. Whether you combine the meme with a fatality, of course, is up to you.