As the gaming industry grew in popularity, so too did the urban legends surrounding video games and gamer culture. These urban legends spread like wildfire when the internet became more widely used, unsettling readers and making some seemingly innocent games rather sinister. Video game urban legends have ranged from creepy to downright bizarre, and we have collected the 10 most disturbing video game urban legends that will keep gamers up at night.
Bethesda has called this Fallout 3 urban legend a hoax, but that hasn’t stopped people from believing it. The legend goes that if players murder Three Dog, then destroy Raven Rock without doing the Galaxy News Radio mission, the GNR station will start broadcasting strange messages. These messages feature Three Dog (who was supposedly murdered, remember) reading off some numbers before being interrupted by morse code.
Supposedly, players translated the numbers and morse code to discover “future” predictions hidden in Fallout 3, including the death of actor Gary Coleman. One of the other predictions supposedly made by GNR is that Britney Spears will win an Oscar in 2023, so it will be interesting to see if that comes to pass.
The Grand Theft Auto franchise has been the subject of numerous urban legends and myths, perhaps more than any other video game series. Some are interesting, like Bigfoot supposedly hiding in San Andreas, but others are creepy, like Grand Theft Auto 4‘s Ratman. What makes Ratman so disturbing, though, is that there is some evidence in the game that he – or it – may actually exist.
Ratman believers cite strange puddles of orange blood that appear in Liberty City’s subway system, a news report about the city’s rat infestation, and an in-game online ad looking for “Human Lab Rats.” Furthermore, Ratman is apparently gifted with immense speed, and a comedian at the nightclub references an extremely fast homeless person. Whether or not Ratman actually exists in the game is up for debate, but Rockstar Games has yet to deny its existence.
One of the most famous video game urban legends started as a post on the controversial message board site 4chan. In this story, a person obtains a used copy of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask on the Nintendo 64, and deletes an old save file on the cartridge marked “BEN.” Ben is said to be the former owner of the cartridge and has been haunting it since his drowning. Deleting the save file seems to enrage Ben, and he begins psychologically tormenting anyone unlucky enough to get their hands on his old copy of Majora’s Mask.
Despite being made with kids in mind, the Super Mario franchise has been no stranger to weird and creepy goings-on. The piano from Super Mario 64 comes to mind, but Super Mario Galaxy 2 arguably has something even creepier. In the Shiverburn Galaxy, players can spot strange beings staring at Mario from the top of a mountain. Fans have taken a deep dive into the game files to determine that these creatures are labeled “Hell Valley Sky Trees.” However, they look nothing like trees, leaving players to wonder exactly what they are, what they want, and why they won’t stop staring at Mario.
An urban legend born from creepypasta, Herobrine is a Minecraft character that is said to appear in the game world and do things like build random objects, cut the leaves off trees, and attack players. His popularity spread thanks to a hoax stream by a streamer named Copeland, and his ominous glowing eyes have been a major part of the Minecraft community ever since. The prevailing theory seems to be that Herobrine is a ghost haunting Minecraft worlds, but that can’t be true. Can it?
Herobrine can be forcibly added to Minecraft thanks to mods, and mods have also added other creepy things to the game, like the Momo creature from the suicide “game” that attempts to push people to self-harm and commit suicide.
The legend goes that after the release of Pokemon Red and Green (or Blue, as it was known in the west), there was an increase in child suicides in Japan. Apparently, the kids were killing themselves because of the music in Lavender Town, an area that is haunted by ghost-type Pokemon in-game and even has a Pokemon graveyard. Some versions of the legend go as far as to claim that developers at Game Freak purposefully coded the music to emit frequencies that would make kids take their own lives.
There is no evidence that this actually happened, but that hasn’t stopped the Lavender Town urban legend from spreading. It doesn’t help that the Pokemon franchise has been indirectly and even sometimes directly involved in harm to people, like when a distracted driver playing Pokemon GO killed somebody and the “Electric Soldier Porygon” episode legitimately caused hundreds of kids to have seizures.
Urban legends point to men in black suits being behind all sorts of government conspiracies, even those involving video game psychology experiments. According to legend, the men in black installed an arcade cabinet of a game called Polybius in 1981 Portland, Oregon and it caused players to experience a slew of negative psychological effects. The men in black were spotted collecting data from the Polybius cabinet, and then one day it disappeared, never to be seen again. Evidence points to the Polybius arcade cabinet being a hoax created to drive traffic to the old website coinop.org, but there are still those that believe it existed.
The early 2000s saw the United States go to war with Afghanistan and Iraq after the tragic events of 9/11. This era was notable for the constant coverage of war and terrorism by the media, who pushed reports that the PlayStation 2 was being re-purposed by terrorists to be used in military operations. News reports went as far as to claim that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had been collecting PS2s and planned to use them to launch missiles. These reports turned out to be false, but they wouldn’t be the last time a PlayStation console was linked to terrorist activities.
Secret of Evermore is an odd duck. Developed by Square in North America and never released in Japan, the game plays similarly to Secret of Mana, but with a decidedly goofier tone. However, since at least 2010, a post from the Rainwoodworks blog has been circulating the rumor that the game was actually a lot darker during development.
If this particular urban legend is to be believed, Secret of Evermore originally had a much darker story before being reworked into a family-friendly experience. The evidence for this urban legend seems to mainly be Secret of Evermore‘s eerie opening sequence that somewhat clashes with the tone of the rest of the game, in addition to a (possibly faked) magazine article that shows some dialogue that was supposedly cut from the final release. The dialogue comes when an NP speaks with the main characters and says, “How can you live with what you’ve done? Those poor children…”
The dialogue in question suggests that the main characters actually end up killing or otherwise harming children at some point in the story, though this never takes place in the final release. The author of the blog also points to the character Queen Bluegarden, who jumps off a balcony to her death, with only dialogue giving indication that she was a robot, as opposed to a woman committing suicide.
Originating on the SomethingAwful forums, the creepypasta known as Pale Luna has taken on a life of its own as an urban legend. The story is about a text adventure game called Pale Luna that gave coordinates to anyone who managed to complete it. The coordinates led to a forest near San Diego, California, where the decapitated head of a missing little girl was recovered.