Game myths are a dime a dozen. Spread like wildfire thanks to the internet and its gaming forums, aided by Photoshop, and also “eyewitness accounts” that resemble UFO sightings, game myths range from standard and believable rumors to totally outrageous lies.
From an urban legend that suggests a game’s main character has been brainwashed by the big bad and that everything the player experiences is hallucinated, to a conspiracy theory that links Deus Ex to 9/11, game myths are as varied and fantastical as the games themselves—and they’re a lot less harmful than real-world urban legends that tell of boogiemen who hide in the back seat of your car when you get out to pump gas, waiting to stab you as soon as you drive off.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to collect ten very popular, and totally out-of-this-world game myths and urban legends. Read on to find out what they are.
#10 Pokemon: The Mystery Of Mew
The Pokemon series is chock-full of secrets and rumors, but none are as infamous as the mystery of Mew. The 151st Pokemon was only ever officially available via special distribution events, but that didn't stop fans from using cheat devices like GameShark or concocting harebrained schemes to obtain the elusive Legendary in Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow. The most well known method was to visit the truck parked adjacent to the S.S. Anne in Vermillion City and use a Pokemon with either Strength or Cut. Since neither ability was available at that point in the game, you'd have to trade for the necessary critters with a friend. Of course, this trick turned out to be a bust, but there is in fact a confirmed method for capturing Mew that requires exploiting a particularly lengthy glitch.
#9 Mass Effect 3’s Indoctrination Theory
As far as theories go, the Indoctrination Theory isn’t too much of a stretch, but it gives the writers of the game far more credit than they deserve for coming up with their especially poorly written ending for Mass Effect 3.
According to the theory, the game’s protagonist Commander Shepard has been ‘indoctrinated’ by the Reapers causing him or her to hallucinate various events in the game, as well as the entirety of the ending, which “takes place in his or her mind”. The existence of the theory serves to nullify the poorly written ending—which, if the theory is correct (it isn’t) isn’t as poor as you think. Phil Hornshaw wrote a great deal about the theory, and there’s an hour-long video (seen above) that attempts to explain what the theory is.
An end came to the Indoctrination Theory when BioWare rewrote a part of the game’s ending with the release of an update that extended the game’s ending in an attempt to properly explain what happened.
#8 Final Fantasy VIII’s Squall is Dead for the Second Half of the Story
According to this myth, Final Fantasy VIII’s main character, Squall, is actually dead for the second half of the story. At the end of disc one, Squall is impaled by a spike while fighting Edea. So when the second disc begins, and Squall shows up without a single wound on his body, players are rightfully confused and thus lead to believe that the remainder of the game consists of Squall slowly succumbing to his wounds and passing away, hallucinating everything that happens until the end of the game.
There’s an entire website dedicated to this theory called SquallIsDead.com.
#7 Blowing Cartridges
As every one who grew up during the Super NES era “knows,” you have to blow on your video game cartridge to get it to work, if it’s ever wonky. The truth of the matter is that blowing on the cartridge can damage it—it even says so in the user manuals. It’s unknown who came up with it or why people thought it’d be a good idea to blow on the cartridge to ‘clean off the dust’.
#6 Deus Ex Predicts 9/11
When Deus Ex was released in the year 2000, the World Trade Center towers were still standing. However, in the game, they appear to be missing from the New York City skyline when viewed from Liberty Island. The real reason for this is because the developers had to crop the skyline to fit the limitations of the game’s engine at the time and thus the iconic buildings had to be cut from the view.
That being said, the game is strangely prescient in how it predicted a major terrorist attack on New York City. It begins with a terrorist attack on the Statue of Liberty, which turns out to be a false flag event to smear the reputation of a so-called “terrorist” organization known as the NSF.
#5 Bigfoot in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
A rumor surfaced within a week of the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas claiming that players could find the presence of Bigfoot within the game. Although the developers at Rockstar denied that Bigfoot was in the game, they hinted that something was out in the wilderness, fueling gamers to continue the search for the mythical creature. Bigfoot was eventually added into Los Santos with the release of Grand Theft Auto 5 as a tribute to the popular myth. Bigfoot was also implemented as Sasquatch in another Rockstar Games title, Red Dead Redemption, with an associated achievement for killing it in the game’s Undead Nightmare DLC.
#4 Minecraft’s Herobrine
Herobrine comes from a ‘creepypasta’ from 4chan telling a story about a mysterious figure spawning within a single-player game of Minecraft that followed the player around. The mysterious figure looked exactly like the player character with the default player character skin—but with empty eyes.
#3 Naked Lara Croft
Everyone’s now-favorite tomb-raiding explorer Lara Croft was the star of 1996’s Tomb Raider, was subject to a rumor that, if true (it wasn’t true), allowed players to strip her of her clothing by entering a secret code.
The rumor spread like wildfire around the Internet as players picked up the game, many of whom were horny teenage boys who more than enjoyed staring at her butt whenever they played the game.
Eventually, a modder just said “fuck it” and created a mod replacing Lara’s clothes with nude skin textures. Classy.
#2 Battlefield 4’s Megalodon
There’s plenty of easter eggs in Battlefield 4, but the most interesting one of all is also its most difficult to find—the Megalodon, or giant shark. According to the myth, players spotted a giant shark in Paracel Storm, one of the game’s naval maps, prompting many other players to attempt to find it. The shark was eventually added to the Nansha Strike map as a part of the game’s Naval Strike DLC—if it wasn’t already in the game prior.
#1 Diablo’s Secret Cow Level
The cow level in the first Diablo game was one of the first myths I came across as a gamer who played games online. According to the myth, players had to perform a complicated series of actions involving the cows at the edge of town and eventually get a red portal to open up in the field, which lead to a secret dungeon teeming with demons that were unlike anything else in the game. Screenshots of this secret cow level were doctored in Photoshop, of course, showing the presence of the red portal, as well as monsters in the dungeon using assets unused by the game.
When Diablo 2 came out, it had an actual cow level that you could open by combining Wirt’s Leg with a Tome of Town Portal within the Horadric Cube in Act 1, which summoned open a portal that lead to a field filled with cow monsters and a Cow King. Diablo 3 followed up on this with a cow level in Reaper of Souls’ Nephalem Rifts randomly generated dungeon system. There was even a Cow King’s Hide in World of Warcraft, a blue item that dropped from one of the game’s many monsters.
Needless to say, Blizzard’s in love with the myth and continues to keep it alive with easter eggs in their various titles.