If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times, gamers are a hardcore bunch. I think it’s fair to say that no other medium elicits the same kind of devotion, bile, and obsession from its fan base as the video game industry does. Don’t get us wrong, film, television, literature, and music have their fair share of dedicated followers, but there is a casual streak that runs through those that doesn’t seem to exist in gaming, at least not to the same degree.
With that in mind, it only makes sense that fans would devise theories and conspiracies about their respective games. Video games are long forms of entertainment: needing to clock in at 5 hours minimum to avoid accusations of creative and developmental laziness, games are often crafted as multifaceted works of structural and narrative art. With so many hidden things, plot strands, and cliffhangers, it's only natural for the more inquisitive and dedicated amongst the fan base to devise their own theories about these titles.
In this list, we are going to look at thirty of the best theories that could be true or that are confirmed. These range from interesting tidbits of trivia knowledge to dream-dashing revelations that may force you to look at your favourite childhood games in a more sinister light forever. With that being said, lets take a dive down the fourth wall-shattering rabbit hole and look at some of the video game fan theories we can’t believe are true!
30 The Great Poké-War
So when you think of Pokémon, you usually think of cheerful music, primary colours, and whimsical fictional folklore.
However, there is one fan theory which has garnered attention, and that is that a great war took place before the first games.
The lack of adults present, the high percentage of orphans and Lt. Surge’s somewhat cryptic assertion that his Pokémon “saved him during the war” all give validity to this theory.
29 Post-Apocalyptic Kirby
Another Nintendo exclusive, another bleak vision of a ravaged Earth. The theory here is that the planet Shiver Star, which Kirby inhabits in Kirby 64, is actually our planet after some class of a nuclear winter. The evidence is all there: the outlines of the continents, the lone moon orbiting it, and the factories and buildings which still litter the landscape. It’s a shame that such a cute character has to be associated with such a sinister theory. Let’s just hope Kirby didn’t have his pudgy finger on the nuclear button…
28 Cube People
Portal is a game rife for this kind of list. It’s seemingly innocent premise of a woman going through initially innocuous challenge rooms based on portal opening physics slowly parlays into a story of homicidal AI which wished to destroy you with increasingly more dangerous tasks. One theory suggests that the companion cubes you use in the game are made of people. We wouldn’t put it past GLaDOS to do something like this to her sapien adversaries. Also the fact that she refers to the cubes as “sentient” makes us nervous…
So, back to the Pokémon universe here for more misery. In the Pokémon Red & Blue titles, your principle rival is Professor Oak’s nephew Gary.
You take on Gary numerous times throughout the game.
One of these encounters takes place on the S.S Anne. After this you end up in Lavender Town, where you find Gary mourning at a pet cemetery; the kicker? He no longer has his Raticate. Perhaps those tackles you unleashed upon it in battle gave it one concussion too many, Ash!
26 Snake Simulation
A long shot here, but one that would throw all fans of the Metal Gear franchise for a loop. Without delving too far into spoiler territory here, Metal Gear Solid 3 is the earliest prequel in the series, however some fans believe that it is all simulation for Solid Snake, as the first part of the game is called the “Virtuous Mission” (mistaken by Snake as “virtual”), plus your ability to select your favourite past game. Let’s also not forget Hideo Kojima’s penchant for fourth wall breaking solipsistic storytelling.
25 The Stage
Anyone whose played Super Mario Bros. 3 is very familiar with the opening sequence of the start screen, which sees Mario pull up a curtain to introduce us to the world, allies and enemies of the title. It’s an iconic moment in gaming, but could it have a deeper meaning? One theory suggests that the game is actually a play and the platforming action you engage in takes part on a stage. Opening aside, that some enemies look like props and the way you exit “stage right” at the end of every level backs this up.
24 The… Bigger Stage
Going a step beyond the previous theory, this one suggests that all the Mario and friends characters are actually just actors.
The reason behind this position, taken by many fans of the Mario games, is due to the sheer volume and variety of titles that they all appear in.
Aside from the platforming titles which made them all famous, they have appeared in a litany of fighting, sports, RPG, and racing titles, plus more. Well, if nothing else, their range is terrific!
23 Crossing… Or Something Else?
Animal Crossing is not only one of Nintendo’s most successful and adored franchises, it's also one of the most endearing on the most endearing console. So the theory which suggests that the children in the game which are tasked with running a community of animals and keeping the village afloat, were actually abducted and forced into labour while incurring more and more debt is insidious to say the very least. Do yourself a favour and go watch some videos of puppys and kittens now…
22 Jars Of Flies And Cans Of Worms
So this one has some pretty far reaching consequences! In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, there are five jars of insects scattered around the gargantuan map, with runes in each jar. The theory surrounding this one is that if all the jars are found and all the runes are deciphered, it will lead to the destruction of all of mankind. If there was ever an argument to be made against gaming completionists, this is it. But considering what Elder Scrolls players are like, the end could be nigh.
21 The Donkey Kong Trade
One of the earliest jewels in the Nintendo crown, the Donkey Kong franchise has been absolutely beloved by both critics and fans alike, particularly in its earlier iterations.
Like many Nintendo titles on this list, though, there is a sinister undertone here.
Rumour has it that the game is actually representative of the Banana Wars where the United Fruit company was able to monopolize the fruit trade through US intervention. Many of the enemies in the game appear to be wearing costumes which resemble US military uniforms, so maybe there is some truth to this.
20 Super Puppet Master
In the Super Smash Bros franchise, you can pit some of your favourite Nintendo characters against one another in vicious hand to hand combat. For those who see the game as out of character with Nintendo and Mario’s typically happy-go-lucky image, this theory is for you. The theory is that the Master Hand, seen first in Super Smash Bros., is actually a child’s hand controlling the Nintendo characters like toys. This would probably make getting Princess Peach with a right cross while controlling Mario a lot less uncomfortable for Mario devotees.
19 Where It Comes From
Ok, so this one is more than a bit disgusting. So, in Bloodborne, in order to heal your character, you have to drink vials of blood. Now, where this blood comes from is unknown, but one theory may have come up with an icky answer. I cannot say it outright, but consider these facts: the vials are only carried by women, one of those women no longer carries it when she becomes pregnant, and much of the game takes place in the “Nightmare of Mensis.” Bloodborne is even more disturbing than you thought…
18 Luigi's Potential
So Mario, the iconic Nintendo plumber, is a character who is associated with virtue and valour; a man whose primary concern is saving princesses and restoring order to the world.
His brother and trusty sidekick Luigi is seen in the same light and for good reason, right?
Well maybe he shouldn’t, as one theory suggests that, left to his own devices, whether intentional or not, Luigi has the capacity to destroy the world. All this means that Mario is less crime fighting partner and more babysitter.
17 Not In Charge
The Call of Duty franchise is the ultimate fantasy fulfilment in video game form. Each game takes place in a warzone, either fictional or based on a historical conflict, and you, the first person protagonist, is looked upon to lead the charge and save the day. Except in practice, it doesn’t really pan out that way. Most of the time, you are spending your time following orders and tailing behind far superior soldiers while given massive protection by waves of nameless cannon fodder. In a way, the campaigns feel more like escort missions, with you the escortee.
16 The Calm Before The War
Although one of the latest installments in the franchise, the theory goes that Pokémon Go is actually a prequel which takes place not only before Pokémon Red & Blue, but even before the aforementioned Pokémon War. Why do some believe this? Well, not all the 151 first generation Pokémon are in the game, but fossil Pokémon Aerodactyl, Kabuto, and Omanyte are. The gym structures, ability to teach your Pokémon new moves, and the TMs and HMs are all absent too. Let’s just hope you didn’t start the war!
15 Twin Imagination
When Metal Gear Solid was remade exclusively for the GameCube in 2004 as The Twin Snakes, fans were treated to the original experience with next gen graphics, gameplay, fresh voice acting, and a (controversial) new soundtrack. One of the biggest changes made to the game were the cutscenes, which saw Snake literally dodging bullets in feats of time-bending gymnastics. Contrasting his more rigid, gruff movement and fighting style from the original, fans have justified this by concluding that these scenes are how Otacon, who is constantly in awe of his ally, imagines his buddy’s encounters.
14 Portal Parents
So in both Portal games, GLAdOS is the antagonist trying to end you. However, in the second portal, there may be clues that GLAdOS *spoiler* is actually your mother. It is revealed that GLAdOS’ conciousness was based on a woman named Caroline. There is a portrait of this woman and a man called Cave Johnson who apparently had a daughter together. A science experiment from a ‘Bring Your Daughter to Work Day” and the ending music for the second game also support this idea.
13 Uncharted And The Last Of Us Are In The Same Universe
Both developed by Naughty Dog, The Last of Us and the Uncharted series are two games with very similar gameplay mechanics but very different stories. Someone who plays one of the titles would be familiar with the mechanics of the other.
However, the tones are so different that they’d never suspect they’d exist in the same universe.
That said, a headline on a scattered newspaper in Uncharted 2 warning of a deadly fungal virus affecting people globally makes us pause for thought…
12 Sworn To Protect
In the Batman Arkham games, one of the Dark Knight’s most enduring adversaries is Harley Quinn. In Batman: Arkham City, you find one of Harley’s old nurse costumes, a crudely constructed crib, and, during the end credits, Quinn sings “Hush Little Baby.” Scarily, though, in the DLC pack “Harley’s Revenge,” the same office has negative pregnancy tests thrown around it, leading to the rather horrible theory that she lost a child and the superhero was responsible. Say it ain’t so, Batman!
11 Civilized Afterlife?
PC game Civilization has been the strategy game of choice for many gamers over the years. The opportunity to play the role as some of the biggest world leaders and conquerers in history is a mouth watering prospect for some players who revel the role of war leader. Some of these same players reckon that Civilization is set in the afterlife, where these leaders can live on for eternity waging war and leading their nations to victory!
When it come to theories revolving around astrophysics, the last place you would look would be Minecraft.
The child-friendly platformer has more in common with Lego than with string theory.
However, some astute players have noticed that in the game the sun sets and the moon rises in completely different patterns, meaning the moon doesn’t revolve around the Minecraft planet. This has lead to the theory that Earth was turned into a star because the sun was burning out, and that you are tasked with rebuilding civilization.
9 The Fallout Skyrim Theory
Similar to our previous entry about Uncharted and The Last Of Us, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Fallout 4 are made by the same developer. Just like that entry, the theory goes that both games take place in the same universe. And, again, just like that theory, it is a minor detail that spawned it. An experimental plant found in Fallout 4 looks identical to the Nirnroot plant in Skyrim, and, to boot, is identified in logs as “NRT,” which would be a big coincidence. Hard to know here which game came first though…
8 Max's Struggle
Max Payne 3 saw the series take a sharp turning point, changing both the character of Max himself and the tone of the series. Many, especially those who have played the previous entries in the series, were not particularly enamoured with the game. During the game, an ex-police friend of Max’s keeps popping up at random moments. Many think that this person is actually a figment of Payne’s own imagination, perhaps representative of what his life would’ve been like had he not taken a destructive path.
7 Fantasy Connection
Every Final Fantasy game is different, and while some of them may share a location or a universe, they exist on different timelines from one another.
That’s why it may surprise some fans of the series to learn that the world of Final Fantasy VII is connected to Final Fantasy X-2.
Shinra is an electic power company in Final Fantasy VII. It is revealed that they travelled to Farplane, a location in Final Fantasy X-2, and attempted to harness its energy as a resource.
6 Wolfenstein Theory
One of the original first person shooter games, Wolfenstein 3D sees you in the shoes of protagonist William J. Blaskowicz as he shoots his way through hoards of enemies. One of the questions that many fans have had in relation to Blaskowicz however, is his background. And their thoughts were confirmed when lead programmer John Carmack revealed that he is in fact Jewish (or half, on his mother’s side, to be specific). Given who your enemies are in the game, seems pretty fitting to us.
Now, we’re going to have to speak in allusions here in order to avoid major spoilers, but anybody whose played the Mass Effect trilogy will know what we’re talking about. Mass Effect 3 is often considered the worst game in the series... not terrible by normal standards, but sub-par when compared to the others. One of the main reasons for the ire it received by series devotees was its ending. Let’s just say that the theory states The Reapers, the main protagonists in the trilogy, had an “influence” on the outcome.
4 JC The Saviour
In the original Deus Ex game, you play as protagonist JC Denton, who has the faith of humanity in his hands.
Originally you were only given initials to keep him gender neutral, as you were supposed to be able to pick a male or a female character.
However, many fans have theorized that the initials stood for the original JC, as he had the faith of mankind in his hands. Partially true, but the character was actually inspired by a man, a friend of Warren Spector who would routinely say “Jesus Christ, Denton” to his pal.
3 Call Of Ancestry
One of the most iconic characters in the Call of Duty series is Captain Price, his cool, authoritative character and the key role he plays in the Modern Warfare trilogy has made him a fan favourite. What some players may be unaware of is that there was another character named Price in the original Call Of Duty. Sami Onur, one of the character designers for the series, has since confirmed that Price from the original game, set in WWII, is actually the grandfather of Captain Price!
2 The Madden Curse
Of all the theories on this list, this is the only one which has a direct impact on the real world, and it also happens to be one with the most clout to boot!
The Madden Curse is the idea that the cover stars of the Madden games all suffer severe injuries after their appearances.
This happens after dawning the box. Sounds crazy, right? Well, think about this: Since Madden ‘98 (after which cover star Garrison Hearst broke his ankle), 17 of the 19 cover athletes suffer season ending injuries soon after their game’s release. Creepy…
You spend hours preparing, minutes upon minutes stalking, dispatching target after target until you reach your main one, then BAM! You take your man down, and thus begins a strange one on one conversation where all time seems to freeze around you.
This is exactly what happens when you eliminate your target in Assassin’s Creed.
The reason? Well, apparently the Animus is creating these conversations between the two adversaries for Desmond due to the Bleeding Effect, where Desmond’s ancestor’s memories and abilities are being transferred to him through their shared DNA!