A pirate is essentially one who commits the act of piracy. Originally piracy was robbery and plundering at sea, usually from private organizations not attached to any sovereign nation. Pirates in history were said to rape women, steal goods, and plunder whatever they could, as well as drinking plenty of rum. Today, the definition has been expanded to include those who steal and copy software illegally, though this form of piracy is rarely represented in video games.
The lifestyle of history's pirates has made them the focus of much amusement, including books, movies, and of course, video games. Pirates were known to sail the world's oceans, taking what goods they pleased, commandeering ships, and living luxurious lives. Pirates are rarely tied to any government, and do not pick favorites in their plundering. They also drink a lot of rum.
Piracy has been around since trade routes began on the oceans, with some of the earliest pirates being among the sea-peoples of the Mediterranean Sea, such as the Phoenicians and the Greeks, some 3,000 years ago. Historically, piracy has also been prominent around the coasts of China and India, places where many sought after goods originated. More widely known pirates later appeared during what is known as the Middle Ages, such as the Arab pirates of the Mediterranean and the Vikings of Scandinavia who raided coasts across Europe.
Pirates who have inspired much of the imagery and lore we see today were the Spanish pirates of the Caribbean. One of the most famous pirates of all time, Blackbeard, was among these pirates. These pirates sailed the Caribbean, plundering land masses in the area. Another source for the imagery of pirates today comes from the Barbary pirates of the Mediterranean. A famous pirate among them, Barbarossa/Redbeard, was known for his prosphetic arm, while another, Rahmah ibn Jabir, was known for his eye-patch. In modern times, some of the best known pirates are the Somali pirates operating around the Gulf of Aden.
Thanks to their lifestyle, pirates were a great candidate for video games. Who doesn't want to raid ships, kill sailors, and sell all of the loot? Pirate themed games come in all shapes and sizes, from adventure games like Monkey Island, to simulation games like Pirates!, strategy games like Age of Booty, and even puzzle games like Zack and Wiki. Stealing and selling goods, swordfighting, plundering, raiding ships, and drinking rum are among the various pirate activities to be found in these, and other games. Though there is good source material for a pirate themed action game, to date, the only pirate action games have been licensed titles, such as Cutthroat Island.
Pirates have also found their way into games in non-traditional ways. The world of gaming likes to place pirates in the future, pillaging ships in the skies and in space, beyond the ocean. In Skies of Arcadia, players will take control of airships, and go about being pirates in the sky. Rogue Galaxy is a title which showcases pirates in space. Samus Aran, heroine of the Metroid series, isn't too fond of pirates, her number one enemy being the dreaded space pirates.