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Fashion is an ever evolving form of social commercialism. Fashion then brings about those snazzy, sleazy, and slick hats that help set the atmosphere and tone for a given time period. Social movements like the literary movement (Beatniks), and even gangsters during the Prohibition era developed time-defining styles of dress. Ultimately reshaping and stylizing new forms of headgear. However, hats are not simply worn for aesthetic value, although some may argue otherwise, but rather exterior individualism. This is just one of an almost infinite amount of ways to represent one's character through a unique article of clothing. Comic books, video games, film, and especially books all have characters with distinguishable traits that set them apart from others. Some of these popular characters wear iconic hats that reflects their personality and sometimes symbolizes the overarching theme of the plot.
Use of Hats in video games
In video games, the addition of a thoughtfully constructed hat can give meaning and life to a character that otherwise would be a shallow portrayal of the "common hero." For instance, Kung Lao of Mortal Kombat fame is instantly memorable for his hat. Not only does that hat represent his upbringing and cultural diversity, but it is also worked into the story as a gameplay element. Typically, video games lack character development mostly becouse of the need to keep the main plot of the game rolling. In the case Mortal Kombat, the main story is rather simple and it is the characters alone that make up the story. Character traits such as Kung Lao's hat greatly benefit the overarching story of Mortal Kombat.
Evolution of the Hat
Following the online gaming revolution and the ever-present lust for further rewards and persistance. Hats have joined the many other objects of interest to be unlocked, earned or achieved. Xbox LIVE avatars take this to a new level entirely, offering hats for money in paid micro-transactions. Other games like Valve's runaway success Team Fortress 2 have a huge abundance of hats to reward the player for prolonged play and in-game achievements.
Fat Princess and other similar games took this concept further into gameplay, using Hat Generator machines to dictate a player's class in game and cementing your player's headgear as a staple of the player's role in the game.
Hats as a Meme
The Use of the Hat as an internet meme came largely as a result of the rise of the hat as a reward system in video games and the varying complexity of the hats. The Leaning tower of hats is a good example of this.
Such Memes continue to this day in good spirit, often involving pets and more ostentatious hats.