Gaming's folk heroes

The champions of our cause

Legen-wait for it wait for it-dary!

It used to be that society was divided in two. The haves and the have nots. The beautiful people and the uggos. It was a dark time, when all video game news was written down in an ancient form of media called a 'magazine,' and gaming legends were but a mere whisper in the school cafeteria. Sure, you may have totally gotten the world speed record in Battletoads, but you sure as heck couldn't prove it.

Now, thanks to the internet, any random Joe or Joette can pick up some recording equipment, come up with a unique voice or achieve a legendary deed, and completely take the gaming landscape by storm. These are the men and women who dared to do something great, or hilarious, or brilliant, or stupid, and capture that moment for all time. These are the greatest folk heroes of gaming. Let their legends be told unto all corners of the Earth.

Nintendo 64 kid

Watch his claim to fame here

We've been overjoyed to receive a game console before, but we don't think we've ever achieved the nirvana-like peak of happiness that this child experienced. With a delight that's bordering on hysteria, Brandon and his sister Rachel can barely compute their excitement at receiving an N64 for Christmas--and it's a heartwarming tableau of gaming gift-giving.

Even if Shigeru Miyamoto were to walk through our door and hand us a Wii U, we don't think our elation could match that of these two cherubic kids. Yes, we'd be overjoyed--but we probably wouldn't start screaming incoherently or make plans to hit up the nearest Blockbuster for some games.

Red Shirt Guy

Watch his claim to fame here

You've got to have a serious pair to question the creators of the digital world you inhabit. But one hardcore World of Warcraft fan, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the game's lore, stepped up to such a daunting task. At Blizzcon 2010, Red Shirt Guy took the opportunity at a Q&A panel to set things straight with Blizzard's Chris Metzen (aka senior vice president of story and franchise development) and Alex Afrasiabi (lead world designer, World of Warcraft).

Turns out, the out-of-game WoW novels appointed Falstad Windhammer to the Council of the Three Hammers, but he was completely absent from the Council's virtual counterpart in the Cataclysm beta. Having confronted the designers with the continuity error, they vowed to fix it--and even immortalized Red Shirt Guy as the dwarven Wildhammer Fact Checker. This young man probably knows more about the fictitious world of Azeroth than most real-world historians ever learn in their lifetimes.

Leeroy Jenkins

Watch his claim to fame here

Weeks of planning, hours to clear a dungeon, three seconds to ruin it all. That's the result of the delightful chaos wrought by one over-eager Paladin, who returns from an AFK break and charges into battle without a care in the world. This viral video depicts the hardships faced by a group of WoW players as they attempt to chart the dragon-infested territory of Upper Blackrock Spire. Though they make every effort to plan for contingencies, nothing can prepare them for Mr. Jenkins abruptly leaping into action while bellowing his own name.

Without trying to ruin Christmas for you, the video is staged, with the Leeroy Jenkins persona acted out by Ben Schulz. Still, Leeroy Jenkins has become an icon for brave--some might say foolhardy--gamers, who like to fight monsters first and plan their attack later. And say what you will about Leeroy--at least he has chicken.

Chad Warden

Watch his claim to fame here

'SUP BEETCHES. Chad Warden, also known as C-Wizzy, is here to tell you exactly how and why the PS3 is superior to the Xbox and the Wii. Not only does Sony's flagship console have all the best games--Chad Daddy also explicitly states that he has no interest in playing with a Wiimote, which clearly resembles a "deel-do." You don't have to agree with him, but you do have to respect how funny it is when a PS3 fanboy lays it all out in such street-smart jargon.

One wonders if this ABAP (as baller as possible) gentleman will make a return for the debut of the PS4, provided that Microsoft and Nintendo haven't gone completely bankrupt by then. All we know is, Chad Warden remixes are some of the greatest things we've ever seen in our lives. BALLINNNNNN'.

Arin "Egoraptor" Hanson

Watch his claim to fame here

As a gamer with discerning tastes (you're at GamesRadar.com, after all), there's a good chance you've seen one of Egoraptor's many "Awesome Series" videos. This talented Flash animator has a knack for creating perfect lampoons of gaming classics like Metal Gear Solid and Pokemon, with a heaping helping of insanity mixed in. Equally skilled at drawing cartoons as he is voicing them, Egoraptor's the kind of charismatic everyman that a fanbase just naturally grows around.

That fanbase even got the chance to vault Arin to the spotlight for the third season of Sony's "The Tester" reality show, where they voted him into a community choice slot in the cast. When he was unjustifiably eliminated after the third episode of the season, literally everyone stopped caring to tune in. Good going, Sony.

Daigo "The Beast" Umehara

Watch his claim to fame here

No matter how many times we see it, Daigo's full parry video still gives us nerd chills. See, in Street Fighter III: Third Strike, skilled players can "parry" a move instead of blocking it. By moving towards an attack at the exact millisecond that it's about to hit, a fighter will nullify the attack and gain frame advantage, all while avoiding the dreaded chip damage that comes with blocking. No better scenario shows the strength of parrying than Daigo's famous match versus American all-star Justin Wong, where a desperate situation with a sliver of life left turns into an infinitely crowd-pleasing comeback.

Though the Japanese-born Daigo was a Street Fighter champion long before and after this video, watching "The Beast" be unleashed made diehard Daigo fans out of millions of players. Having tried to parry Chun-Li's super attack in the past, trust us when we say that no other ordinary man could pull it off, just when it mattered most, like Umehara-san.

Michael "IFC Yipes" Mendoza

Watch his claim to fame here

You know you mean a lot to the gaming community when you've invented one of its most universal catchphrases. Mr. Mendoza is the originator of a multitude of fighting game memes, from "That's so Pringles" (once Magneto pops you up into the air for an infinite combo, the fun don't stop) to "He got that Mango [insert anything here]." With his soulful style of match analysis and quick, razor-sharp wit, hearing Yipes hype up a crowd with his commentary never, ever gets old.

Yipes doesn't just have charisma going for him--he's also a top contender when it comes to the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise, having taken home the trophy for MvC2 during the EVO 2007 tournament. Even if you've never played Marvel in your life, we highly recommend you check out the next Curleh Mustache tournament, which is hosted by the Magneto godfather himself. It won't be long before you find yourself saying "Scoooooooooooooop" every time someone does a throw.

James "Angry Video Game Nerd" Rolfe

Watch his claim to fame here

Haven't we all raged once or twice while playing a video game? James Rolfe made a career out of getting angry while gaming, tapping into the very same frustrations we've had with classic 8-bit games. With a mouth like a sailor and a pocket protector at all times, Rolfe's AVGN persona has captured the hearts of gamers everywhere who have ever uttered a string of incoherent curse words after their umpteenth death. He's also got an extensive collection of old games and consoles that would make any aficionado proud.

Rolfe isn't just an expert on crappy shovelware, either--his passion for film and board games strikes a chord with many of our own interests outside of video games. Even after 100 episodes, Rolfe's inventive delivery of obscene cynicism has kept the show fresh. Just try not to repeat his words in public, lest your mother make you wash your filthy mouth out with soap.

Pure Pwnage

Watch its claim to fame here

Alright, it might seem like we've resorted to listing out our favorite gaming-themed web series--but Pure Pwnage was a thing even before YouTube existed. Revolving around exploits of Jeremy, also known by his handle "teh_pwnerer" (and played by Jarett Cale), it offers a mockumentary-style look into the life of a hardest-of-the-hardcore n00b-schooler living in Canada. Whether you watch the original web series or the single-season TV show, we guarantee you'll fall in love with the characters and their quirky ways.

Before "pwnage" was absorbed into the general populace's lexicon, and "BOOM! HEADSHOT" became a played-out meme, Pure Pwnage felt like a truly nerdy comedy show that only gamers were in on. It's actually made for people like us, conveying an authenticity that phonies like The Big Bang Theory just can't pull off.

Wendy McColm

Watch her claim to fame here

Admittedly, this one might be more a folk villain. In a world where Blizzard beta keys are as highly sought after as Willy Wonka's golden tickets, watching one be destroyed can reduce a gamer to tears. So imagine the mourning of thousands of StarCraft fans when they see a video of an irate ex-girlfriend destroying a StarCraft II beta key, as an act of revenge against some cheating chump named Brad. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, indeed.

Unbeknownst to many, the video is just a prank pulled by actress Wendy McColm. We can't say for certain whether that really was a valid beta key taking a trip through the paper shredder, but it's hilarious watching the outrage of sectarian commenters who act as though she just personally ruined their lives.

PewDiePie

Watch his claim to fame here

There's never been a more divisive YouTube personality than Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg - or PewDiePie to you and me. With over 30 million subscribers, he's one of the most popular channels on the streaming video service, and his videos have entertained and influenced more youngsters than virtually anyone else in the medium. On the other hand, many people just don't see the appeal of a guy who screams nonsense into a microphone over video game footage (hint: those people probably use the word 'youngsters').

Love him or hate him, you can't deny that he's got an inexplicable charm, and the kids really seem to love him. Plus, even if his unique comic stylings aren't to your taste, you can at least agree that his willingness listen to criticism and his charitable nature make him a pretty alright dude.

Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw

Watch his claim to fame here

If the Angry Video Game Nerd pioneered the 'angrily swearing at a video game' short film genre, Ben Croshaw (or 'Yahtzee' as he's more widely known) turned it into a goddamn artform. Portraying simple stick-like figures with simplistic animation while providing razor-sharp critique at a rapid-fire pace, his video reviews skyrocketed into popularity seemingly overnight, earning him a regular weekly show over at The Escapist.

If that were all he'd accomplished, it would be a pretty amazing feat, but Yahtzee didn't stop there. No, he's published two books, designed 14 different games, co-hosted two additional video series with the inimitable Jim Sterling, and even opened up a video game-themed pub called The Mana Bar. Crap. Now I just feel lazy.

Now you can tell their tales

Those are the unlikely heroes of the gaming community that we hold in highest esteem. Which modern-day folk heroes do you look up to? Let us know in the comments below, so that we may propagate their enchanting fables around the campfire.

For more heroic heroism, you'd do well to check out our list of the 100 best heroes in video games and Heroes by the #s: Which apocalyptic savior has saved the most?