Tag Archives: gamer folklore

Lavender Town Tone

Background: The informant is a 25 year old male who lives in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. He was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. The informant has been playing video games for about 15 years, is on video game chat platforms, and watches videos reviewing games over the year.

Context: The informant and collector was discussing new video games over the year when at the informant’s apartment. The conversation shifted to Pokémon, given the release of the new Pokémon game.

Me: So, you mentioned Lavender Town? It sounds familiar but what is it?

MC: Basically, Lavender Town is an area in Pokémon Red and Green, you know, like the first of the games. This town is, as you might guess from the name, completely in shades of lavender and has music, as each town has unique music in each Pokémon game, that had very high frequencies. I think it was something along the lines of only children and teens were able to hear the high pitch because we lose the ability to hear certain frequencies as we grow older.

Me: And, this town has a special significance in the game? 

MC: Not for good reasons.

Me: What happened?

MC: After the game was released, in the 1990s, there was a sudden peak in suicides for younger children, around elementary school. Of course, there was a huge fan theory that it as the lavender high tone that was affecting children, causing them to commit suicide and develop illnesses, terrible headaches and stuff. This would always happen right after the children reached the town. So now, Lavender Town is infamous for, well, causing children to die.

Me: And, did Pokémon do anything about it?

MC: Yeah, I believe they changed the music, lowered the tone. But, the idea of the original Lavender Town is still out there. Ask any person who played the original Pokemon games, they will know the Lavender Town Tone. Even newer players, most likely.


Informant: From his words, he never expressed that he didn’t believe in the idea of the  Lavender Town Tone. In fact, he seemed to readily accept it and not question it, and is confident that other gamers also know.

Mine: The Lavender Tone is a longstanding legend about the Pokémon Red and green games. Nobody knows if it’s true or not, but it caused enough damage that they did change the frequency, perhaps admitting to some truth value in the matter. While gaming folklore commonly fades away, especially with the plethora of new games being released each year, it’s amazing how the Lavender Tone has remained for nearly three decades. Still, after searching online, it remains part of the gaming history and consciousness. It’s interesting how folklore can arise based on authored material, simply because of the effects in the real world or the massive outcry a game causes. In my opinion, I could see the frequency being a complete mistake by the sound designer as they wouldn’t be able to hear the sounds. I’m not sure if the game simply happened to be released at the wrong time and was blamed, or if the tones did play a role in the matter? I suppose that’s why it’s a legend – the truth value is questionable.

Ghost of Minecraft

Background: The informant is a 25 year old male who lives in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. He was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. The informant has been playing video games for about 15 years, is on video game chat platforms, and watches videos reviewing games over the year.

Context: The informant was talking with me about the new minecraft updates. He has not played Minecraft in a few years but still remembers the story.


MC: Yeah, it reminds me of when I used to play Minecraft, which hasn’t been for years. Well, there were these Youtube videos that came out about random structures being built in a server, or tunnels randomly appearing. Eventually, there was a picture taken of the culprit, named Herobrine. There was a big myth that Herobrine was the… ghost of the Minecraft creator’s dead brother, somehow having infiltrated his way into the game and wreaking havoc in servers. There’s no evidence of this, though.

Me: What does he look like?

MC: Just like the Steve skin, looking like a human. I believe he has white eyes though, which isn’t normal for the game. That makes it seem more like a ghost coming to life.

Me: So, there were a lot of stories that came out?

MC: Yeah, a lot of streamers and Minecraft players started sharing about how they would encounter someone in their single player world — which isn’t supposed to happen – and he would always quickly run away. Whenever they would explore their world, they would find tunnels, and leaves cut down from trees, and more. It just kept spreading that some uncoded entity was in the game. I know a few streamers did fake encounters with Herobrine to get views.

Me: Did you ever encounter Herobrine?

MC: Not me, but, yeah, it was all over the place. It’s faded out of popular consciousness somewhat, but Herobrine is still alive in the Minecraft world.


Informant: The informant seems unsure what to believe in regard to the Herobrine story. They have never seen Herobrine, themselves, and cannot confirm if it’s true or not.

Mine: Herobrine’s story incorporates many different ideas. For one, the concept of the creator’s dead brother entering the game and embodying Herobrine is the equivalent of a modern day horror story. It is haunting but not in the real world, which asks more questions about how ghosts work, especially if they can inhabit any space, even virtually. It may signal that the brother has something left to do on the Earth, or wants to message his brother and the best way is virtually. It’s the equivalent of a ghost texting. Herobrine also demonstrates how folklore can be utilized for one’s personal gain. Streamers used the ghost story in order to boost their own views, taking advantage of a lot of people’s real beliefs in the existence of Herobrine. By making a prank out of it, they essentially mock the entire belief of hauntings. However, their mocking of the game may be a way for them to beat their fears, almost like a modern day exorcism.

Gamer Culture: Pwned

Context: When you’re playing competitive online games, one of the most important things to learn is how to most effectively show off to the enemy. You won’t always have the time to curse them out or otherwise eloquently explain your skill to them. For this reason, different kinds of slang have been adapted to meet the needs of competitive gamers. From this, we get the gamer slang “pwn.”

Main Piece: To “pwn” someone is to, essentially, annihilate them, destroy them, or otherwise completely defeat them when it wasn’t even close. Similar slang would be “curb-stomping” or “bitch slapping.” The gist is that gamers need more ways to tell people how bad they were beaten as a part of the psychological warfare of gaming. If somebody gets angry, or “tilts,” they’ll play worse, and if they’re angry enough, they might even quit! Pwning became the go-to affirmation of dominance in gaming lobbies for much of the mid-2000s because of both its simplicity and its meme status. Informant GG shares his account of his origins in Counter Strike, a competitive first person shooter game. 


GG: I first heard [pwned] (pronounced p-owned) in 2003; I was playing Counter Strike with my buddies, and one of them just goes “pwned!” and I said “what?” and he said “pistol owned!… so owned is like to dominate someone or to make someone your bitch using your skill, and pistol is like how we whipped out the pistol and shot a guy…” I don’t know the exact origins of it, but I’ve seen it everywhere from YouTube to memes, it’s all over the place.

Example of a meme using the term “pwned”, from KnowYourMeme.com

Thoughts: In gaming culture, defeating a rival is a moment of great pride that one may be too excited to put into eloquent words. It is for this reason that I believe “pwn” arose from a need to accurately describe the feeling of dominance over an opponent, regardless of it’s roots as either a keystroke error (because p is next to o on the QWERTY keyboard) or as a combination of pistol and own. From GG’s perspective it certainly makes sense that killing an opponent with your pistol, a relatively weak weapon compared to rifles and machine guns, would warrant pwning, but the folklore aspect of pwning is more through why people used it and less of how they began to use it. In the mid-2000s, pwned became apart of internet meme culture because of its applicability to other scenarios. Anytime that something goes catastrophically wrong for someone, they’ve been pwned (See Know Your Meme). Using the term pwn also includes you in apart of the culture of the internet. Therefore, I believe that people used pwned primarily because of its attached feelings of dominance as well as its inclusion in internet culture. 

Annotation: Pwned photo from Know Your Meme https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/owned-pwned