Most of the characters that we meet in games are pretty original creations. That's probably for the best, I don't think anyone wants to meet a real Bowser or Pyramid Head. Nevertheless, you can't deny that it is pretty damn cool when real world favorites are brought to life in pixel form.
Here Are 7 Lesser Known Video Game Characters With Real Life Inspiration
The life stories of the most well-known celebrities and historical personalities provide us with infinite possibilities for artistic license—some adaptations are more direct than others. There are celebrity look-alike characters and then there are full-on clones. These crossovers are the best of both of those worlds!
1. Nikola Tesla As Himself ('The Order 1886')
This one is not necessarily hard to notice, but it can be easy to miss if you skipped over The Order 1886 like many others following its negative reception. The cool thing about Tesla's appearance in this game is that we get to see him at his youngest and most creative.
Historically speaking, his presence in the game is inaccurate because he'd already been living in the US for about two years by 1886. But his rivalry with Edison seems to be present and the unpredictable (often fantastical) nature of his weapons harkens back to an era of raw discovery that is seldom revisited in games. Movies love Tesla!
Other historical cameos in The Order 1886 include Arthur Conan Doyle, Marquis de Lafayette, Rani of Jhansi and Charles Darwin. Move over, #AssassinsCreed. There's a new alternate universe populated with famous people in town!
2. Andrew Ryan & Howard Hughes ('BioShock')
#BioShock's Andrew Ryan and Howard Hughes aren't just doppelgangers in image, they share a common path in life as well. These men had creative minds, huge dreams and an unyielding belief in the American Dream that both made and broke them in the end. For Andrew Ryan it was Rapture, for Howard Hughes it was everything from film empires to air travel.
It is also said that Andrew Ryan's character is influenced by Ayn Rand and Walt Disney. At first it seems improbable but, if you think about it for a while longer, it doesn't seem so weird anymore. Evil mega-capitalists keep things interesting!
3. Kratos & Edward Norton ('God of War')
It's no secret that God of War's Kratos has very little in common with his mythological counterpart. But it turns out that Kratos actually does have something in common with Edward Norton's skinhead character from American History X. Not in terms of ideology, of course.
According to the game's lead designer, David Jaffe, it's all in the attitude:
There's this scene in which the cops arrest him [Norton] and you just see how buffed and built he's gotten. I showed that to the artist and I said, 'Okay, that sense of power and aggression that you just see in his face, can we somehow take that, the essence of what he's exuding, and somehow turn that into a character that fits into this Greek mythology world?
Gotta say that I'm feeling some mixed emotions about that. I can think of a few other instances of power and aggression in film characters that wouldn't leave such a bitter taste in my mouth.
4. J & Jimi Hendrix ('Wolfenstein: The New Order')
Wolfenstein: The New Order takes things a few steps further by putting Jimi Hendrix in the game as a character named J. Like Jimi Hendrix, J was born in Seattle and had a father who was drafted in WWII. He's also a left-handed guitar player with a penchant for recreational drug use.
Though the years don't quite match up (in 1960, the real Jimi Hendrix would've only been 18), the similarities are pretty undeniable and J's presence in the game is a welcome dash of creative color in a relatively gray universe.
5. Himiko As Herself ('Tomb Raider')
The plot of the Tomb Raider reboot, released in 2013, heavily features a legend surrounding Himiko the Sun Queen of the island of Yamatai. According to the stories, she was an intelligent but ruthless ruler who could communicate with the spirit world and control the rain. When we meet her in Tomb Raider, she is a soul trapped in a decaying body looking for a new home.
What you may not know is that Himiko's existence is actually a hotly debated topic for historians around the world. The Sun Queen, also known as Pimiko, was believed to be the shaman queen of Yamataikoku in ancient Japan. Though she is mentioned in Chinese texts, there is no record of her in Japanese texts making the verdict on the real Himiko a bit unclear. Kinda creepy, right?
6. Lu Bu As Himself ('Dynasty Warriors')
Lu Bu is the one that you don't want to run into in Dynasty Warriors. Why? Because he's an overpowered nightmare. Unsurprisingly, Lu Bu in real life was also an overpowered nightmare.
Born in modern Baotou, Lu Bu (the "Flying General") was a military general and master of martial arts. He was known for his unparalleled talent in everything from archery to horse riding. Lu Bu's greatest shortcoming was his unfortunate personality—his impatience and bad temper led to his eventual strangling and beheading. It was a predictable end to a life full of scandal and bloodshed.
7. Mario Seagale & Mario
Our favorite extraordinary Italian plumber was based on the relatively ordinary Italian landlord of a building used by Nintendo's team in the 80s. His lifelong career in business, development and politics stands in stark contrast to the pipe cleaning, animal crushing and recreational drug use that Mario seems to prefer.
You can't help but wonder how Mr. Seagale feels about everything now that his doppleganger is a household name in #VideoGames. So far, he really hasn't said much. According to a 1993 article from the Seattle Times, Seagale remains reticent about the whole affair:
"You might say I’m still waiting for my royalty checks."
While these are the best character adaptations around, they certainly aren't the least... or even the last! That is, unless the game developing community decides that it's just too deeply burned by The Order 1886's shameless cameo spree and just quits the practice all together. Hey, call me harsh but it could happen!
Which real life personalities would you like to see pop up in a game?