Top 10 Video Game Memes of 2018: From Bowsette to I'm Already Tracer

2018 was a scary, worrisome and exciting year. The internet hive mind continued to grow, boiling down the trials and tribulations of its users into the dankest of memes. KnowYourMeme is the quintessential website for understanding this constantly evolving sphere of weird Wednesday frogs, Fortnite dances and Luigi copy/pastas. Newsweek asked the site for its list of the 10 most influential video game memes of 2018, along with the guidance of the site's founder, Brad Kim.

"We try not to use our go-to metrics (by overall popularity) for our end-of-year coverage, especially with video game memes, as this method typically produces a list of the most popular memes from one or two dominant hubs only," Kim told Newsweek. "Our main editorial criteria for end-of-year reviews is to highlight the most notable memes from as many relevant communities as possible, as to preserve our choices from being influenced by community biases."

Top Ten Video Game Memes of 2018

Ugandan Knuckles

One of the strangest and most politicized memes of 2018 died off as quickly as it arrived. Fans of streamer Forsen would quote lines from the Ugandan action movie "Who Killed Captain Alex?" Somehow, lines from the movie were said around the internet, including in a new game called VR Chat . Players could take control of avatars and some decided they wanted to be small monotremes based off of characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.

For a few months in early 2018, fans of the meme would say "do you know the way" in what they thought was a "Ugandan" accent and would often add clicking sounds. Many found the meme objectionable so it died out within a few weeks. "Radicalization/politicization of memes within gaming communities took an interesting turn in 2018," Kim said.

Original vs. Un-Tumblrized

The second most controversial meme of the year also didn't last very long. For a few weeks, users of sites like 4chan and Twitter would post side-by-side comparison images of what they believed to be "un-Tumblrized" versions of characters. The original featured a Fortnite character with her midriff showing, blue eyes and blonde hair.

"After a couple years of de escalation in the heated online debate on identity politics and gaming culture, what we've seen this year is a mild resurgence of politically incorrect memes," Kim said. "The epic attack rate and the even faster fadeout of Ugandan Knuckles and Un-Tumblrization speaks to the current climate of online communities when it comes to participating in memes that would unleash commentaries on this still hot-button issue."

SoulCalibur VI Custom Characters

When Soul Calibur VI was first released, players took full advantage of the massive character customization mode. Players could build anything from a swole Pikachu with a longsword to a giant apple that could slap enemies around. Players let their imaginations soar, building Magikarps out of Voldo and Ronald McDonald with a katana. Compared to a lot of the other memes on this list, this one's fairly tame.

Mario Bros. Views

On reddit, creativity can earn you massive amounts of karma. The sub "dankmemes" has become a treasure trove of deep-fried surrealism and Dada-esque internet jokes. In June of 2018, user Gina_Rolinu posted an image of the two Nintendo characters Mario and Luigi and their views on abortion. Posting Mario as the straw man with logical points and Luigi as the crazy madman who wants to "yeetus that fetus" immediately caught on in the reddit community.

"Obviously, meme dissemination / exchange has been increasingly becoming fluent across different platforms," Kim told Newsweek . This meme didn't get as big as some of the other ones on the list, due to its controversial nature.

Bowsette / Super Crown Characters

The original Bowsette comic Twitter @ayyk92

Rule 63 on the internet is that "for every given female character, there is a male version of that character" and vice versa. Bowsette is the genderbent version of the Koopa king of the Mushroom Kingdom, Bowser. Originally created in a comic by Twitter user @ayyk92, the character quickly ballooned into one of the most popular memes of 2018. (And on pornhub).

"Fandomization of Bowsette was not only inevitable, but obligatory," Kim said. "This isn't to say that female renditions of Bowser had not existed before this meme, though the moe anthropomorphic (gijinka) imagination of Bowsette is something new."


Fiverr is a website where you can pay someone to do something silly for you. User VoiceOverPete decided that others online could pay him to say whatever words off a script. He started gaining traction online when users would ask him to say that a video game character "needs their help," with the first being Fortnite's John Wick. The meme quickly grew, until VoiceOverPete was banned on Fiverr in November of 2018.

Dad of Boy

God of War is one of the best games of 2018, combining an epic single-player experience with a story that could melt the hearts of even the toughest of Olympians. You play as Kratos, the bitter god of war, who has his trusty son, Atreus, by his side. Kratos is a pretty crappy father and yells "boy" to get his son's attention. This act of virtual child abuse caught on in the community, with many shouting "boy" throughout the weeks after launch.

The meme has only grown bigger since God of War's release. During The Game Awards, voice actors Chris Judge and Sunny Suljic took the stage to give out an award. The crowd erupted in cheers when Carson shouted his famous "boy" line, showing that months after the meme had gone stale, it was still on the public's mind.

Baldi's Basics

Like Five Nights at Freddy's and Bendy and the Ink Machine , Baldi's Basics is an indie game that got popular out of nowhere. The game was published in March and was played by Let's Players, like Markiplier, which catapulted the game to an even wider audience. The surreal imagery that spoofed classic education games of the 80s and 90s was so successful that a DLC pack was funded on Kickstarter within just a few weeks.

Waluigi's Smash Snub

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate might have been the most hyped about game of the year. Nintendo's classic franchise has characters from throughout gaming lore like Link, Ridley and Shulk. One fighter the internet desperately wanted was Waluigi, the lanky alternative to Wario and counterpart to Luigi. When the final official roster was released, the purple prankster was nowhere to be seen, except inside of an Assist Trophy.

The internet shared their disappointment in game director Masahiro Sakurai in memes, songs and videos. Waluigi might not be in Smash Bros, but at least he's in Mario Tennis Aces . You gotta take what Nintendo will give you.

I'm Already Tracer

The only musical number on the list has completely dominated the Tik Tok app. The original Tik Tok featured a woman pretending to play Overwatch with a PS4 controller turned off, miming the lyrics to a song about switching heroes. The "cringey" nature of the video, combined with the catchiness of the song quickly pushed "I'm Already Tracer" up the Tik Tok popularity list.

The No Mercy song had "catchy melodies and duet-optimized lyrics that revolve around an instantly relatable in-joke among Overwatch players," Kim said.

What is your favorite meme of 2018? Tell us in the comments.

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