Posted on October 29, 2010, Phil Hornshaw 10 Ill-Advised Video Game Tattoos (LIST)
Okay, I like games as much as just about anybody and I’m not denying that the video game culture can and has shaped the lives of many, many people just like me. And I also understand the primal need to brand yourself permanently with something you enjoy as a means of propping yourself up as a “unique” and storied individual. Using someone else’s intellectual property to define yourself is very important in the world today.
But if you’re going to slap somebody’s cartoon on your body forever, it’s not something you should rush into. You certainly shouldn’t let your in-training tattoo artist cousin ink you with his first attempt at a rough sketch of Kratos eviscerating Master Chief so you can prove your undying love to the Sony gods. Spend some money. Shop around. Make sure the person drawing your video game tattoo has a firm understanding of just how important Shy Guys were to your development as a human being.
You also might want to hit the gym some beforehand. Just saying.
By way of example of what not to do, we present the following: 10 ill-advised tattoos, for various reasons. Hopefully this will cause you kids to think twice before you take the dope and run off to your nearest Target and start jabbing yourselves with Sharpies.
10. Clown Samus
Here’s an interesting choice — rather than opting for the more technically interesting and proportionally correct Samus Aran of later Metroid iterations, this tattoo sides with the little-remembered NES “Cotton Candy Gun” version of the space bounty hunter.
I appreciate this depiction of my favorite Nintendo hero, as she is so proficient in dispensing cotton candy to hungry, excited children, she doesn’t even have to look in the direction that she’s aiming. I can get behind Clown Samus, using her years of training in space bounty hunting to bring joy to children at your local county fair. She’s a hero, but she also gives back to her community.
9. Respect your art school training
Remember when we were talking about making sure the guy who is drawing a picture on your body with a stabby implement actually has the ability to draw the things you want him to? This is why — because if you don’t, you could end up with a pile of cartoons on your arm that look like they’re recovering from facial reconstructive surgery.
If you’re nerdy enough to get Mega Man, Mario and Link seared into your flesh (okay, you’re right, tattooing isn’t really a “searing” kind of action, but I’m quickly running out of synonyms for “branded like so much livestock”), you’re nerdy enough to care about accuracy in your imagery. I can’t get past the fact that Mega Man has a bulbous muffler attached to his arm, Link has some kind of spinal deformity, and Mario is less like a heroic monster-stomping plumber and more like a guy whose overarching ambition is to bags groceries for a living.
Although that might also describe the guy who willingly paid for this tattoo.
8. There’s a duck in your pants…?
I’m not really sure I get this one. Maybe it’s the convex nature of the imagery slapped on this dude’s firm and swelling gut. Is he trying to depict that he’s packing digital heat and that he could draw those Zappers and sling some hot light in the direction of any stray laughing dogs?
I dunno. I’m not really sure why you’d want the NES light gun flanking your real-life love gun anyway. Seems like it draws unwelcome comparisons in the follow-up to a date: “Want to have sex?” “You know, I really have a craving to play Wild Gunman — do you have that?”
And with that gut, it’s not like you can pull it back with some kind of sexy dance or something. So you just got c-blocked by a toy from 1985. Way to plan ahead.
7. A chest-wide montage of awkwardness
There’s such a thing as overkill. Any tattoo containing Q*Bert qualifies for this category.
For the most part, I think this one speaks for itself. However, allow me to point out the tasteful wrap-around of the nipples by the artist, preserving those tiny lions’ manes of cultivated, whispy nip-hair from discomfort, and yet still allowing their owner to display them proudly alongside those long, exceptionally muscular Q*Bert legs.
6. Lamest possible conclusion
There’s only one thing worse than a badly drawn tattoo — and that’s thinking you can improve on a badly drawn tattoo with a “brilliant” idea. Like Master Chief popping off his helmet at the end of a hard-fought, galaxy saving alien war to reveal that he’s actually a kid-friendly platforming fat guy.
This is a classic example of why you should make sure you can pay for the tattoo you really want. Mario Chief here smacks of a last minute decision to combine two marginal tattoos into one really, really terrible one. Next time you’re impulsively about to ask some artist to make you a piece of advertising for some company’s flagship cash-cow, ask your friends for a couple of bucks. You’ll only have your whole life to pay it back.
5. Even your tattoo thinks you might be a rapist
Sorry, guy. You chose poorly with this one. Points awarded for the creativity of trying to create a fighter jet cheesecake pinup out of a cartoon video game character. Points deducted by going to someone who drew her with the shoulders and build of a man and the frightened expression of a woman walking to her car in the dark, in a horror movie in which no one’s been murdered for a while.
Look, people judge you by your tattoos. Some do it professionally, in print, on the Internet. This is not one that’s going to score you any points, particularly with the ladies. A tattoo like this says several things:
- I take Mario far too seriously, and probably have creepy Mario porn fanfics on my computer at home. Which I wrote.
- I have little, if any, understanding of women. Also I’m openly attracted to cartoons.
- I have little to no money, as evidenced by how awful my tattoo looks.
- I’m quite probably an idiot, seeing as I’m willingly showing off my painfully bad tattoo for the benefit of your Internet photos and mockery.
Newsflash — none of those impressions helps in convincing women to give you their phone number. You’re actually increasing your chances of getting pepper sprayed.
4. Maybe you could pretend it’s a birthmark…
Or a deformity.
Although I guess if you’re going to get an instantly dated pop culture tattoo, you could do worse than Pac-Man. Around the time your skin starts to sag, making the tattoo unrecognizable, most everyone will probably have forgotten about Pac-Man anyway. Which means you can say the tattoo is anything — a symbol of your lost islander tribe’s ancient heritage of eating and battling ghosts, perhaps. Or a depiction of your respect for dead elders. Maybe a visual display of your womanhood being pursued by the spectre of male-dominated patriarchy and the cherry of equality and freedom, within reach but still requiring work to achieve.
Conversely, you could save yourself the effort and just grow your hair out. That sort of brand loyalty might fly over at Namco, but if you expect to ever be allowed the responsibility of working the drive-thru window, you’re going to need to cover up the 8-bit section of your face.
3. Adding potential for racism to beloved characters
I haven’t really got anything funny to say about this — at this point I’m just trying to process the information flooding my visual cortex without suffering an aneurysm.
Side note: I always got the impression that Crash Bandicoot was…I dunno, Australian? Anyway, were there mad scientists on the side of the North during the Civil War, or is he just endorsing racism? Can fictional pixelated animals be racist? Where does someone get a hold of a pair of those kick-ass glasses? How much regret at seeing that emblazoned on his skin every morning has accrued in this guy over the last 1,141 days since that picture was taken?
2. A meditation on Kratos in Silly Putty
It’s hard to make fun of this guy because it’s very possible he doesn’t really have much idea of the holocaust of dignity that takes place on his back every single second of every single day.
I mean, sorry to tell you this, dude, but this looks like you stretched Kratos’ face out and then stapled it to a soft round hunk of cheese. I think you were going for “menacing” or “scary,” but that one eye kind of looking off in a funny direction conjures up “kicked by a mule” or “fell down some stairs” more than anything.
Man, it just looks like a big cow with a scar, doesn’t it?
1. Everything awesome in a single tattoo
The quintessential tattoo. If ever a guy had thought of the single greatest tattoo ever, this is that guy, and he has that tattoo.
You learn everything you need to know about this guy within nanoseconds of seeing his iconography. He may as well have slapped “Steve, incredible badass” across his forehead — the message is the same, only this is so much cooler. Its purification and distillation of Steve’s essence is probably why he snapped this bathroom mirror Myspace profile pic of it. This is all you need to know about him.
I’ve really got to hand it to this guy for finding a way to combine such totally unrelated elements in a way that speaks to the overall awesome of all of them. Let’s break it down so we can see how Steve (that’s the hypothetical name I gave him) achieved such permanent, unremoveable, lifelong greatness.
- He started with Jesus. He gave credit where credit was due.
- But anybody can have a cross tattoo so he stepped it up with the marijuana leaf, signalling that cannabis, too, is important in everyday life and spiritual and personal health.
- And then he threw in Bowser, the greatest villain of anything ever. Forget classical asskickers like Dracula or the Borg or zombies — Steve knew that a giant Princess-kidnapping Turtle-Dragon embodies the struggles of the human condition for enlightenment against the ever-present oppression of mediocrity, laziness and fiery cruelty. The sunglasses, of course, represent the blindness inherent in the search for true love.
- And he gave him a guitar! And not just any guitar, but a double guitar, as Bowser’s fire-breathing plumber-fighting prowess is surpassed only by his musical ability. It also is meant to signify that physical limitations like having only three fingers to play an instrument with 12 strings cannot hold back Steve’s indomitable will.
- Finally, Bowser is on a surfboard — the balance between the spiritual and the physical is achieved, but Steve knows that balance is precarious and he must maintain vigilance, lest he topple bodily into the raging surf of self-destruction. It can be spooky, but he and Bowser always have that marijuana leaf if they need to mellow out a bit.
UPDATE: I wrote this in the comments the other day, but apparently no one has noticed.
It has come to my attention that the No. 1 tattoo likely was inspired by this sketch from the Whitest Kids You Know.
However, I like my hypothetical description of Steve, incredible badass, and his amazing tattoo a little better. So just pretend like it still applies. In addition, some guy still got this terrible tattoo, referencing an inside joke from a somewhat-obscure sketch comedy troupe, and now it’s embedded in his skin forever. Pretty sure that falls into the category of “ill-advised.”
You’ve seen it. You cannot un-see it.