We’re at the point now at which multiple generations of nerds have grown up with the internet. Memes are just a normal form of communication, not only as a form of comedy, but of politics, social commentary, and information. But sometimes, they’re just weird ways to be funny. From the early days of imageboards to posting garbage on Twitter, here are some of my favorite gaming memes from over the years.
My Body is Ready
Nintendo had a bad rap for a long time, struggling for years to make a real splash in gaming culture. But then, Reggie Fils-Aime showed up. He retired recently, and people dedicated entire podcasts and video essays to the man’s career at Nintendo. A big part of this was his famous introduction, telling fans he was here to kick ass and play games. But he’s also famous for playing a game on stage for the Wii, telling the audience how ready his body was. Ever since then, any sort of video game excitement and hype has been prefaced with this image.
You don’t hear about them as much, since they’re harder to share than images with large, bold text on them, but some of the best memes around come from YouTube Poops. This form is generally made up of something like a cartoon episode or video game, edited in bizarre, abstract ways to get laughs. One of the best YouTube subjects is the suite of Nintendo-licensed CDi games, and King Harkinian is the poster boy of that space. He was shouting “BOY” well before Kratos.
Luigi Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing
Speaking of YouTube, one of my other favorite memes is only possible in video form. At some point, somebody discovered that the Mario Party series is completely broken. No, we aren’t talking about those salt-inducing bonus stars that ruin the end of every game. As it turns out, if you play a Mario Party game by yourself, with all the AI opponents set to the easiest difficulty, the game goes out of its way to make sure you win. That’s even the case if you don’t actually touch the controller.
So, a video montage showing a stupified Luigi winning every game, thanks to the ridiculous CPU efforts, was made, and it became internet canon. Folks discovered the trick worked in subsequent games beyond the first one, so there are several different versions of the original video. And since Luigi doing anything is inherently hilarious, that original character choice only enhanced the fun.
All Your Base
Zero Wing probably wouldn’t have been much of a big deal, as it is a relatively obscure shooter for the Sega Mega Drive. But then, Something Awful happened. The legendary early internet trash heap that predated Reddit, but basically was the same thing, started passing around video footage of the game, which happened to be translated extremely poorly. It was so poorly translated, in fact, that everyone thought it was the funniest thing in the world. “All your base” ended up being an early example of community-driven meme content, with the infamous dialogue appearing in music videos, on clothing, in TV shows, and across all kinds of different mediums. Congress’ famous Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even referenced this classic while dunking on other politicians on Twitter.
Geoff Keighley started as a games journalist, but has since gone on to become a sort of games branding evangelist. This lifelong effort has culminated in The Game Awards being a thing, as an event that wants to compete with the likes of The Academy Awards. The problem is that Keighley’s big grassroots plan has been fueled by all kinds of goofy advertising and product placement.
This has been a long-running thing, but perhaps no better example is from well before The Game Awards, in an event that earned Keighley the nickname, “Doritos Pope.” Despite calling himself a journalist, he infamously did a video spot that included a giant Master Chief standee (branded with Mountain Dew) and a few bags of Doritos carefully arranged around him. Later Photoshop variants included a Doritos chip in the shape of a Pope crown, and a legend was born.
Gotta Go Fast
Sonic the Hedgehog is popular with the kids. The series became especially popular when Warner Bros licensed the Sonic X anime series for its 4Kids cartoon block. This was at the height of the mainstream anime boom, and the Sonic fanart both multiplied and diversified. That included this legendary and precious piece of art that showed up on one of many Sonic sites. It’s the kind of crude, but earnest ,child’s drawing that adult men on the internet love to make fun of. But now it’s everywhere, with even Sega having fun making references to it. It has a sort of post-ironic charm to it these days.
Kaz Hirai, the man himself, the former leader of everything PlayStation, is practically a meme. He was a relatively normal figure in gaming until the infamous PlayStation 3 reveal. The memes flew from this fountain of disappointment, as mediocre-looking launch titles were revealed alongside a hideous-looking console with a monstrous price tag. Hirai’s bizarre comments defending this disaster, alongside a few extremely awkward E3 demos, sealed his fate. A Twitter parody account perfectly lampooning the industry kept the spirit of this moment alive, until finally both the man and the Twitter account retired. It was truly the end of an era.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses Tweets
Fire Emblem: Three houses is one of Nintendo’s biggest Switch games, as it’s a super-involved strategic-RPG that combines its core elements with tons of customization and a time-management system. Fueling this time-management system is a ton of character-focused writing and three sets of wacky students in a military academy. Naturally, that’s fodder for memes. One of the best is a series of fake tweets created by coolfest1999 that is essentially a collection of metatextual fanfiction. Each fictional Twitter user is one of the characers from Three Houses , and each is written as a study in what each of these characters would do if they had access to Twitter. Long story short: they’re all hilarious.
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell when memes are sincere or not, and Gamer Joker is the greatest example of that mysterious void of internet creativity. Did all the Juggalo-adjacent corners of the internet truly bond over a fondness of the Clown Prince of Crime and disdain for women? Or did jokesters decide to make fun of the darker corners of the male internet and stumble into content too hard to distinguish from the real thing? All I know is that one day, the gamers will rise up. When they do, I will probably be among those up against the wall.
Untitled Goose Game is the cult hit of 2019, and everybody loves that horrible goose. Not only that, but the concept of this cute little game of goose crimes is so easy to understand and hilarious that it lends itself perfectly to Photoshop tomfoolery. If you check out the Untitled Goose Game subreddit , you can find all kinds of screenshots and mockups of the game, repurposed to make jokes about other franchises. Or, sometimes, there are things like the real life assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Memes take no prisoners. Anyway, I just love that goose.