Iconic Video Game Ink – Part I
Tattoos in video games are almost always infused with the lore and backstory of the realm and the character. Whether or not you find yourself in an RPG or a first-person-shooter, if your character is sporting ink, chances are it says something about who they are, where they came from, or about the quest they are on. Sometimes, they even break the fourth wall, providing commentary on “our” reality.
Kratos — God of War
The backstory of the Ghost of Sparta’s big bold red ink is one for the legends. Olympians Ares and Athena came to Sparta in search of a boy who had been prophesied to bring down the gods. The prophecy stated that he would have a lightning-shaped birthmark running down the left side of his body. Kratos’ brother, Deimos, had just such as mark and so Ares killed him by throwing him into the Domain of Death.
Kratos, who was also tricked by Ares into killing his own family, got a tattoo matching his dead brother’s birthmark. He then set off on a mission of retribution and vengeance against the gods, fulfilling the prophecy of the man with the markings. As always in Greek mythology, fate tends to have the last laugh, even against the gods themselves.
The lighting shape of the tattoo also eludes to the fact that Kratos is, in fact, half-Olympian himself, one of Zeus’ many demigod offspring.
Jack in Mass Effect 2
Jack was kidnapped as an orphan by the paramilitary group Cerberus. They exploited her as a test subject for biotics, the ability to manipulate dark energy and create mass effect fields. Named SubjectZero by Cerberus, she is one of the most powerful biotics in the universe. When Shepard meets Jack, her head is shaved and she wears nothing on her upper body but a tiny harness, which effectively covers her nipples but shows off her extensive collection of ink, which tells a whole origin story on its own.
Jack has elongated spinal columns tattooed down the length of her arms, representing the number of guards she has killed in the prison facility known as Purgatory, where she was incarcerated because of crimes such as piracy, kidnapping, vandalism, and murder. Along with the vertebrae depictions, there are also symbols for the methods she used to kill each guard.
In addition, Jack has some female faces depicted on her left arm. These are thought to be the Jacks that could have been, meaning unused concept designs for the character herself.
There is a large round tattoo on her back that was inked by the prison facilities’ owners, the Blue Suns mercenary corporation, and shows her race and the years she spent inside. The droplets just to its bottom right show how many gang members she has killed.
Jack herself would not care too much for us discussing her body art, however. “Obvious stuff like what’s up with my ink, or other boring stuff like that?” Jack replies to one of Shepard’s request for information about her.
Ellie in TLOU 2
An honorary mention goes to the upcoming and much anticipated The Last of Us 2, where protagonist Ellie is sporting some brand new ink on her right forearm. Suffice to say, the ink, featuring a moth and two pieces of greenery, does serve a purpose. We’ll leave it at that, as any further explanation could introduce spoilers from the previous game.
However, expect to see a whole bunch of gamers with some new tats after the game is released next week. In fact, some hardcore TLOU fans have already gone ahead and gotten their IRL versions.