It’s time for Ask Kotaku, the weekly feature in which Kotaku-ites deliberate on a single burning question. Then, we ask your take.
This week we Ask Kotaku: Would you ever get a video game tattoo?
Tricky question! I’m honestly wrestling with it.
I didn’t blink when getting my Star Wars tattoo, as simple as it is, but I would need to think of a very good reason to get something video game-related permanently etched in my skin. That’s not to deride anyone who has done it, I just…I don’t know, for some reason I don’t want to be the dude who has pikmin inked on his chest just because he really likes Pikmin. And I think that’s interesting considering the silly stuff I’ve already done to my body.
So, final answer? Maybe! Just like anything else, I’d need a good reason.
I have no tattoos. I don’t have any moral objection to them, in fact, I think they often look pretty cool on people. But personally, I can’t imagine picking anything that I would want permanently emblazoned on my skin. I honestly feel weird buying shirts that are tied to video games or movies because I don’t know how long I’ll be into that particular thing. So I just sit and think about what I would get inked on me for a few hours, give up and repeat the process a few years later when I get the random urge to try to get a tattoo again.
Maybe one day I’ll finally break. But then I’ll see the prices for a good tattoo and I’ll probably pass once again.
I would absolutely get a video game tattoo! None on my skin at the moment, but I’ve been mulling over getting a chess pawn. The pawn is a motif used throughout the indie puzzle game Superliminal. I downloaded it on a whim because I was looking for a good think-y game. I was unemployed in the middle of a pandemic with little else to do. Without spoiling any of the good stuff, it was a game I didn’t know I needed to play until I did. Superliminal was short and sweet, but it gave me the fleeting feeling that everything was going to fall into place just fine at a time when I needed it the most. I figure having a reminder of that on my body forever isn’t a terrible idea.
There’s no easier way to get people talking than by bringing up tattoos. Those who don’t have them will say they’d get one, but they’re indecisive and don’t want to commit to inking something on their body forever. Those who do have them will say it’s no big deal, that you forget they even exist…before diving into a spirited discussion about meaningful pieces, favourite artists, top studios, why those studios are so damn expensive, any trips they’ve made specifically to those studios, and any plans in store for future ink. Oh, yeah, and they’ll say it doesn’t hurt. (They’re lying.) They’ll also say that, once you get your first one, you’ll ache for more. (They’re not lying.)
As it happens, the one that did me in is a gaming-themed tattoo. A few years ago, my best friend and I split a bottle of bad tequila and did that thing all shitfaced people do: talked about how freaking amazing Transistor is. Someone — not sure who — floating the idea of getting a Transistor tattoo. Fuck it. Why not, right? I drunkenly opened Photoshop and mocked up this really sloppy, deconstructed version of the Transistor from Transistor. Basically, we broke the thing into a series of geometric shapes, stripped away the colour, duplicated it, and then inverted the black-and-white tones on the second one, so we’d have two matching yet distinct tattoos. The art was [no comment], but the idea was sound, and some good folks at a tattoo studio in Queens worked magic with the messy JPEGs we brought in.
Now I have many (many) more. I suppose, if you want to get pedantic, you could say another is gaming-themed. Long before Destiny’s Beyond Light expansion was even announced, I got a tattoo of Jupiter and the four Galilean moons. Europa, the smallest of the four, is the primary location for Beyond Light’s narrative. Does that count?
Anyway, dear Kotaku readers, I can’t wait to see all of your Triforce tattoos.
In an old life, I used to be a youth worker. And when teens would ask me about getting tattoos, I’d say a very Old Man thing: “Are there any clothes in your wardrobe more than five years old?” Which was clearly cheating, because of course not, they’re growing teenagers, they wouldn’t fit. But you know, they got the idea. Wait until everything you care about has stopped changing every six months before indelibly etching things into your skin. I applied the same rule to myself, and seemingly having failed to ever grow up, I’m relieved. Because goodness knows, The Longest Journey tattoos I’d have painted myself in back in 1999 might feel a little awkward to me now.
I realise I sound like such a curmudgeon, but I’m a hypocrite too. I think it’s so damned cool when people get entire sleeves done, and envy both their commitment and tolerance for pain. I could chronicle all my gaming loves, something that works in Day of the Tentacle, Knights of the Old Republic, Deus Ex, Dragon Age, Dungeon Master, somehow some Hexcells, and yes, goddammit, The Longest Journey too. It’d be quite the thing.
I’ve always wanted a video game tattoo and ever since becoming a real adult with real money, the urge to get ink that will absolutely embarrass the shit out of my parents has only gotten stronger. I don’t have anything yet but unlike most of my colleagues, I’m more interested in tattoos of words rather than familiar images. Lyrics from one of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s songs, “The Dawn Will Come,” is at the top of my list for literary tattoos.
The night is long
And the path is dark
Look to the sky
For one day soon
The dawn will come
Dragon Age is one of my favourite video game series. I’m also a very words-oriented person (duh, writer) and strongly connected to imagery around the sun, the sky, and stars (my Twitter handle comes from the Latin phrase “Per aspera, ad astra”). Naturally, I’m drawn to the idea of a tattoo that combines both my love of the sky and Dragon Age. It’s also not outside the realm of possibility to get an artistic tattoo too, though I’m less sure of what it would look like. Strong contenders are Dragon Age: Inquisition’s inquisitor symbol, Mass Effect’s N7 logo, or some emblem that represents the four chocobros of Final Fantasy XV.
Oh yeah, almost forgot. If the Shanghai Dragons ever win the Overwatch League championship I will be in the tattoo parlor the very next day.
My partner and I were supposed to get matching tattoos (no, I’m not telling you what they were) before the pandemic hit. The plan was then to work up from there into some other cool designs. Stuff that makes me feel good, like a bowl of ramen maybe, or a twin-popsicle. These sound like jokes and yet they are the best I can come up with, which is why as silly as it feels to get a gaming tattoo it doesn’t seem any worse than the alternative. It would probably be something from EarthBound, maybe the Bubble Monkey. He seemed friendly and happy, two vibes I would like to further cultivate in myself. Or the shiny gold Final Starman. I too would like to be a star of a man. We’ll see. Maybe someday once it’s moderately safer to have a stranger print ink on my body.
I’m deeply honoured to have been invited to return to Kotaku to answer this question. I’ve thought deeply about the matter at hand. Considered it. Pondered it. And I’m happy to provide an answer: Nope.
How About You?
Kotaku’s weighed in, but what’s your take? Do you walk the ink-ed path, or leave that stuff for far less uptight people? Kidding, kidding. Have your say! We’ll be back next week to deliberate and debate on another nerdy issue. See you in the comments!