Gather round the fire, children, I’ve got a few tales to share and the night is growing dark and cold. I may be a simple-minded old man, but I have wasted many years playing video games and devouring the internet. Throughout these years I’ve collected the most unlikely legends, unbelievable anecdotes and surprising stories.
So come in close and listen carefully, as I spin a yarn of accidental boob jobs, origin stories and real-life supervillains.
Lara Croft’s stereotype-spawning oversized boobs were an accident
Lara Croft is arguably the first legitimate sex symbol ever to appear in a video game, if you discount that foxy alien in Space Quest or pretty much every character in Duke Nukem 3D.
But Lara was the hero, and the third-person perspective of Tomb Raider allowed sweaty adolescents to manipulate the camera in ways which would allow them the best vantage point of heavily pixellated T & A.
One of the most prominent features of Lara Croft was always her excessively large chest, a feature which has unfortunately spawned a 17-year trend of blatantly sexualised female protagonists.
You would think it safe to assume that the designers of the original title were grubby neckbeards living out a teenage fantasy, but actually Lara’s Barbie-like bust was unintentional. The story goes that one of the artists, Toby Gard, was fiddling with the dimensions of the character when a slip of the mouse increased that particular area by 150 percent.
The rest of the designers immediately told him to keep it that way. Okay, so maybe they were a bunch of grubby neckbeards. Still, it’s interesting to wonder if that one little slip of the hand didn’t put into motion some kind of butterfly effect which resulted in the sexist themes we see in video games today.
WoW player ruins the game for everyone
World of Warcraft player Angwe showed the world why PvP RPGs are made up of a small minority of people having enormous amounts of fun at the expense of everyone else.
He attracted the hate of thousands of World of Warcraft players when he planted himself squarely in the middle of the only route to some destination WoW players needed to get to for some reason (as you may have guessed, I don’t play myself).
Everyone who tried to pass was immediately executed, no matter how many times they tried. There was no use waiting a couple of hours either – he was always there. Serious speculation began on the internet as to how he ever slept or ate, as he was seemingly never not around to brutally murder anyone stupid enough to try get past him.
Soon guides began popping up on how to get past him, involving complicated-sounding things like teleportation stones and cloned characters.
And just in case the troll level wasn’t quite high enough, he even made an account on the opposing team so he could listen to their enraged sobbing. He called the account Angwespy, because there’s nothing more effective than hiding in plain sight.
He may actually be the best video game boss ever.
The origin of the Easter egg
Easter eggs have become a pretty mainstream part of video games these days, with game designers purposefully inserting difficult to find bonus content in the form of secret levels, cryptic messages or pop culture references.
While today these hidden gems are a fun and essentially harmless extra, their genesis actually came at the hands of a disgruntled employee with a penchant for the passive-aggressive.
Back in the early 80’s when Atari held sway over all things gaming, being a game developer was kind of a crappy job. Most games were created by a single person, who received basically no recognition at all. One such developer, Warren Robinett, decided to fight the power by putting some additional code into his Atari title, Adventure.
One of the levels had a tiny square on the floor, essentially invisible as it was the same colour, which could be picked up and carried to another room. This would set off a graphics glitch, and would cause the entrance to a dungeon to appear. If you walked through, you’d find the words, “Created by Warren Robinett” written on the floor. Hardly the level of profanity and ASCII art we might have hoped for.
By the time the secret was discovered it was much too late, and Robinett had, fortunately for him, already moved on to another company.
And the name? That was actually coined by one of the corporates over at Atari, who used the term to describe what they passed off as “added value”.
One ballsy supervillain holds game developers ransom
Despite pretty much never enjoying or spending any significant amount of time on MMOs, I find myself fascinated by the stories that emerge from them. In particular, the Wild West days when they were first created.
I’ve spoken about people running businesses, banks and elaborate cons in games such as EVE Online, and people starting deadly, game-crushing plagues in World of Warcraft. Hell, just a few paragraphs up you read about that guy who killed everyone.
What really fascinates me about these stories is how players manage to bring the people running the game to their knees. It’s really amusing that the creators of a game environment can actually lose control over it, like some kind of inept god high on omnipotence and low on crisis management.
In that spirit then, let’s talk about Ultima Online. Ultima Online was the first MMO to achieve real popularity, and set the framework for a lot of the MMORPG titles we see today. And predictably, it isn’t short on hilarious stories.
My favourite involves a user by the name of Chrae, who decided to turn his diabolical mind and sociopathic tendencies into a tidy profit, by holding the game developers ransom. To do this, he made use of the slime enemies in the game – annoying, amoeboid monsters that would split when damaged and regenerate.
Chrae trapped a few of these inside a house, and then bombed them with potions that would damage, but not kill them. Since infinite slimes are able to occupy the same space, the slime count in the house quickly got out of control. Then, of course, he opened the door.
The server was almost immediately flooded with an exponential number of slimes, killing every player and then crashing the game as well.
Having established his power, he demanded a ransom or he’d simply do it again. No one took this very seriously, but then of course he did it again.
The developers announced the next day that splitting was something slimes weren’t going to do anymore. Which, to be honest, kind of worked out well for everyone. Because screw slimes.
Do you have any sweet stories? Share them in the comments, I’ve got time.