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Video Game Memes

As people continue to spend more time in the digital realm, our methods of communication have to adjust to many different mediums. Speaking in person or communicating via snail mail letters is rapidly being replaced by emails, texting, and social media.

Enter the meme -- a visual way to express common ideas, truths, or jokes about pop culture phenomenon. These largely snarky visuals spread virally through blogs, social networks, email, and news sites. Video games, another product of the technology age, are full of characters and stories that have an impact on their audience. That said, it’s only natural for a number of video game memes to spring from the minds of many an observant – and potentially frustrated – gamer. Here are just a few of the best video game internet memes we’ve all probably seen and (possibly) come to love.

You Must Construct Additional Pylons

StarCraft, the popular RTS science fiction game from the ‘90s, is the source of one of the most popular video game memes. When a player tried to construct in an area without enough pylons (a structure that allows you to build other assemblies in the area) a voice warned them that they “must construct additional pylons.” Many players heard this cautionary message so many times that it eventually went viral.

Do a Barrel Roll!

Star Fox 64, the Nintendo 64 remake of the original Super Nintendo game, follows the adventures of Fox McCloud and his animal wingmen as they battle the evil Andross and his army. Peppy Hare, one of Fox’s comrades, constantly tells him to “do a barrel roll!” --  a 360-degree spin that evades fast approaching bullets, lasers, and missiles. This phrase also went viral among the internet community and is now widely used in various contexts. Even the search engine giant Google is in on it; search for “do a barrel roll” on Google and see what happens!

Leeeeeeroooy Jenkinnnns!

Leeroy Jenkins, a player character in the popular Blizzard MMORPG, World of Warcraft, is a legend among gamers… for all the wrong reasons. Leeroy and his guild, “PALS FOR LIFE,” were preparing to enter a difficult battle. While the guild members were strategizing, Leeroy’s creator Brandon Anderson was away from the computer. Upon his return, Leeroy was unaware of the strategy and charged into battle yelling his name, resulting in his death and the unfortunate demise of his guild mates. His infamous battle cry went viral and is now found across the internet and beyond.

You Have Died of Dysentery

In the educational video game, Oregon Trail, players are responsible for getting their wagon-mates across the country and ensuring all parties have plenty of food, clothes, and provisions throughout the trek. Oh, if only it were so simple! As if basic survival wasn’t enough, gamers playing as pixelated pioneers also had to dodge disease.  One of the most common messages players received explaining a character’s death was “You Have Died of Dysentery.” Since then, the phrase has been picked up and used in other video games, on t-shirts, and in music videos.

I Like Shorts! They're Comfy and Easy to Wear!

Remember Pokemon? Whether you played either the Gameboy Pokémon Red or Pokémon Blue games, chances are  you were probably greeted by a rather random young fellow named Ben. Just as you’ve got your best Pokemon battle game face on, young Ben pipes up and excitedly says, “Hi! I like shorts! They’re comfy and easy to wear!” This bizarre, seemingly-out-of-nowhere quote spread across the internet and even has its own Facebook page. Every Pokémon game that has been released since uses a similar term in the dialogue at some point in tribute to this phrase.

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This.

In the original Legend of Zelda game on the NES, the hero Link begins his adventure by entering a cave where he meets an old man with a sword in front of him. The old man warns Link that it is dangerous to go and that he should take “this” (“this” meaning the sword). This iconic phrase first made a comeback as an image of a kitten with the original text underneath. The image file, when downloaded, contained a .rar file with trolling programs that infected the downloader’s computer. This became known as the “Dangerous Kitten.” Since then, the meme has continued its (mostly virus-free) path across the Internet with different images swapped out in place of the kitten.

All Your Base Are Belong to Us

In the beginning of Zero Wing, an old-school side-scrolling arcade shooter, the enemy warns the hero that “All your base are belong to us.” (It’s kind of hard to take a grammatically-incorrect threat seriously.) Over time, this poorly-translated line spread like wildfire through various parody videos and spotlights on various websites, news websites, and even on television.

There are many more video game memes out there besides these popular picks. What are some of your favorites?

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