Games featured on this list were, or contained, inspiration for Internet Memes, concepts (typically phrases or visual jokes) which spread quickly throughout Internet culture. Memes can stem from theoretically anything, including a game featuring memorable moments, simply being popular, featuring broken English, being notoriously poorly received, or even just by pure chance. While many early video game memes tended to be limited to Internet communities with a focus on gaming, the reach of video game memes (and memes in general) has greatly increased, seeing mainstream use and recognition of many popular memes.
Video Game Memes in Culture
Occasionally, creators of video games and gaming-related entertainment will take note of a popular meme and mention or feature it in later works. This type of meme can be referred to as an "ascended meme", as it ascended from the gaming community to the game itself.
- The developers of Team Fortress 2 regularly ascend community memes, such as creating an official "Spycrab" taunt, based off of a popular glitch wherein crouching as the Spy and equipping the disguise kit would cause the Spy to perform a crab-like walk.
- World of Warcraft and its spin-off, Hearthstone, regularly reference Leroy Jenkins.
- The oft-heard and oft-mimicked Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage quote "Trouble with the trolley, eh?" later appeared in a trailer for Spyro Reignited Trilogy.
- The Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney quote "You're lying, dammit! And I can prove it!" gained note upon appearing in game trailers, but not the game itself. As a result, the line was added to the second game.
- Capcom has referenced Resident Evil's ''You were almost a Jill sandwich'' line a number of times, such as Dead Rising's "Jill's Sandwiches" sandwich store, or as one of Barry Burton's melee attacks in Resident Evil 5's Mercenaries mode.
- Following years of jokes about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's many ports, Bethesda Softworks eventually released a tongue-in-cheek Amazon Alexa port of the game, complete with a trailer referencing other common jokes about the game.
Memes in Mainstream
As previously mentioned, a few game-related memes have been recognized by mainstream media.
- The opening cutscene for Zero Wing was briefly parodied by Weezer in their music video for "Pork and Beans", itself a pastiche of Internet memes.
- Rumor has it that President Barack Obama privately made reference to "all your base..." during his presidential campaign.
In this section is a list of meme origins and the memes associated with them. As the list is incomplete, feel free to add any that have not been mentioned.
- Among Us - The game's crewmates, as well as the game itself, to an extent.
- Bad Dudes - "Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president?"
- Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing - The extremely poor quality of the game (brought to light in part by Alex Navarro's review on GameSpot), "YOU'RE WINNER!"
- BioShock - "Would you kindly?", a phrase used by Atlas.
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Press F to Pay Respects.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - Sgt. Foley's frequent use of the phrases "We're Oscar Mike" and "Stay frosty".
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night - The opening confrontation with Dracula, especially "What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets!"
- Commander Keen 4: Secret of the Oracle - The first appearance of Dopefish, a memetically-reccurring character hidden in various games.
- Contra - Popularized the famous "Konami Code", later referenced by countless games and various websites.
- Dead Rising - Frank West's inadvertent catch-phrase ''I've covered wars, ya know'' has become synonymous with the series, and is occasionally used for some self-aware self-deprecation by Frank in later installments.
- Duke Nukem 3D - Duke Nukem as a character, especially due to his many catchphrases (often taken directly from 80s/90s action movies, such as "I've come to kick ass and chew gum, and I'm all out of gum", paraphrased from 1988's They Live.)
- Dynasty Warriors - "Do not pursue Lu Bu!"
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - The line "Stop right there, criminal scum!", spoken by the Imperial Guard.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - "See that mountain? You can climb it." a phrase used by Todd Howard in promoting the game, guards' frequent comments of "I used to be an adventurer like you, 'till I took an arrow to the knee", and the game's perceived constant cycle of re-release.
- Final Fantasy XIV Online - The game's poor quality at launch, as well as fans' later readiness to extol the relaunched game's strengths, typically via phrases such as "critically acclaimed MMORPG", "free trial up to level 60", and "including the award-winning Heavensward expansion".
- Fortnite: Battle Royale - While rarely the direct origin of that which it popularizes, many of the dances featured in the game gain popularity because of their inclusion, most notably the Default Dance, originally taken from the TV show Scrubs. As well, the game's ever-increasing number of crossover characters, eventually including characters such as Master Chief, Kratos, and Ryu. The game's near-immediate popularity upon release also caused the game itself to become something of a meme.
- Genji: Days of the Blade - At the Sony's E3 2006 Conference the phrases "Giant enemy crab" and "Attack its weak point for massive damage!" were used to describe the game's "realistic" combat scenarios.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - "Ah, shit. Here we go again..." and "All we had to do was follow the damn train, CJ!"
- Heavy Rain - Press X to Jason.
- Hotel Mario - The game as a whole gained memetic infamy, due to its poorly animated cutscenes and cheesy voice acting.
- Left 4 Dead - The survivors' various voice lines for picking up pain pills, Francis' hatred for everything.
- The Legend of Zelda CD-i games (Wand of Gamelon, The Faces of Evil and Zelda's Adventure) - See Hotel Mario.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - Navi's frequent exclamations of "HEY!" and "LISTEN!"
- Mass Effect 2 - Shepard regularly stating some variation of "I have to go", each time they leave a conversation. Also, "I'm Commander Shepard and this is my favorite store on the Citadel".
- Mass Effect 3 - Because of the notoriously poor reception towards the ending, the creation of the phrase, ''still a better ending than Mass Effect 3''--notably derivative of the ''still a better love story than Twilight'' meme--came to be.
- Metal Gear - Poor English translations such as "The truck have started to move!" and "I feel asleep!"
- Metal Gear Solid - The boss fight against Psycho Mantis, especially his comment of ''I see you like Castlevania'' response. Furthermore, the series' use of a cardboard box as a tool to hide and move about in has also reached memetic status.
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance - Senator Armstrong's line, ''Nanomachines, son''.
- Metal Slug - The enthusiastic pronunciation of rocket launcher, resulting in "rocket lawn chair".
- Mortal Kombat (series) - Phrases like "Finish Him!", "Fatality", Dan Forden's "Toasty!" line, and (primarily from the films) "MORTAL KOMBAT!"
- The Oregon Trail - "You have died of dysentery."
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - "Objection!"
- Pokémon (series) - "so i herd u liek mudkipz" and "FUCK YEAH SEAKING", as well as the game's mechanics as a whole, due to the series' popularity.
- Portal - "The cake is a lie", the Weighted Companion Cube, and the end theme "Still Alive" by Jonathan Coulton.
- Pro Wrestling - The phrase "A WINNER IS YOU".
- Resident Evil - Cutscenes dialogue such as "Jill sandwich", "master of unlocking", and so forth.
- Resident Evil 5 - The scene in which Chris Redfield punches a giant boulder.
- Ridge Racer - Kaz Hirai's awkward "Riiiiidge Racer!" at E3 2006.
- Star Fox 64 - Repeated phrases like "Do a barrel roll!" and "Can't let you do that, Star Fox!"
- Starcraft - "You must construct additional pylons", and the common player tactic of spawning a large amount of weak units to "Zerg Rush" enemy bases.
- Super Smash Bros. (series) - Captain Falcon and his signature move, Falcon Punch.
- Team Fortress 2 - The game's mercenaries as a whole, due to their varied and oft-cartoonish personalities, Soldier's line of "I have done nothing but teleport bread for three days!" from the Expiration Date animated short.
- World of Warcraft - Leeroy Jenkins, a player from a famous YouTube video who intentionally runs into a room full of hostile dragon whelps while screaming his own name, ignoring his team-mates' careful planning.
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link - "I AM ERROR."
- Zero Wing - Almost every line from the poorly translated opening cutscene, but most famously "All your base are belong to us".