Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gaming Tshirts I have Known

It's been in vogue recently for people to wear t-shirts that advertise their unpleasant personality traits. When I was at Cedar Point (America's Roller Coast!) a few weeks ago, I saw a lot of this: shirts that read “I'm high-maintenance” in rhinestones. Listen, I'm all for reclaiming the pejorative language foisted on you by a benighted public. But if you're gonna do that you want to make sure you're going to bat for a trait that is good for human beings to have, and self-absorption is not going to pass muster.

Gamers wear T-shirts for the same reasons that everyone else does: to mark our cultural territory, inform the world at large that we are pro World of Warcraft. But the label “gamer” still has that pejorative tang to it when it comes to the public at large, so when we go out there in public and represent we want to put our best foot forward.

First off, you want to avoid apparel that is really hideous. Look at fox hunting. That shit was pretty brutal, but a lot of sharp-looking clothes were involved, so the public let it slide. A lot of gaming t-shirt designers like to take a literal approach by just slapping the game's box art on a black shirt. (Seriously: Why so much black?) I prefer stuff that has some interesting design to it. You gotta nerd out proper.

Second, I try to keep the games message a little subtle. Hey, I love fragging noobs as much as the next man. You, me, everybody. We all do. But ask yourself: is this an element of your character you want to foreground? Tell the truth about your love of games, but tell it slant. When you run into people who get the whole context they will appreciate being in on it. I saw a dude wearing a University of Catan T-shirt while jogging yesterday and I gave him the thumbs-up. That thumbs up says it all: “pretty sweet.” That's what it's all about.

And make sure your collar's not too stretched out.

Okay, so this one breaks the rule, because everyone knows about Mario. But it also contains a Rene Magritte joke in the original French, and that screams class.

This one might lead to some misunderstandings, maybe even a few brushes with the law. (I was totally safe in Arizona until '06!) But since Settlers of Catan is on live arcade it will net you some recognition from both the video- and board-game crowd.

I think Penny Arcade makes some great shirts (they relish the in-jokes and also the creative visual style) and I love that they make Guitar Hero look suitably iconic on this shirt. Also, the guitar is on fire! On BLUE FIRE!

The company that makes these shirts also makes really good Mac software. Apparently t-shirts are a sideline for them. I really love Katamari and the ladies say powder blue brings out my eyes.

I have nothing but love for Shadow of the Colossus and I found this one Canadian guy on a blog who makes his own Colossus designs. The desert-like color scheme and the horseman silhouette create a more traditionally “manly,” wild west aesthetic than your average gamer shirt, if you can look past the ginormous stone-monster.


Matthew Gallant said...

Nice collection! I picked up two great ones myself recently (here and here.)

The Renaissance Man said...

They've got a pretty good set of stuff at

Kirk Battle said...

Interesting read, I love Rene Magritte's work.

The best product reference bit of clothing I ever saw was a guy on Haight St. in San Francisco wearing a red leather jacket with a pill capsule on the back. Must've been custom because I looked for months on the internet for one.

Which kinda boils down to my own wishes when it comes to game clothes. I don't want a shirt that references the game, I want something from the game itself. I want Dante's red coat. I want the bandanna from Gears of War. I want Max Payne's shoes. I'd love it if the game's artists actually made wearable clothing and then sold it to people in the real world.

Nels Anderson said...

I missed getting one of the Threadless Bioshock tshirts ( It's subtle enough to just look "artsy" to non-gamers, but almost instantly recognizable amongst The Brethren. Maybe they'll do another run for Bioshock 2 ...

Cyranix said...

Is that Shadow of the Colossus shirt still available? It actually came up in a discussion on 1UP recently. I've got a nice SotC shirt from, but I'd be even happier to get my mitts on the "Conquer" one.

ThaYoost said...

I love the mario one. where`d u get that?

U forgot the latest two best shirts. The Uniqlo limited edition MGS4 shirts. two designs were pretty cool... (the second and third from left are awesome)
Got some really nice responses already..

Laez said...

Interesting post, as always. I had to pick up the PA Guitar Hero design when it became available in hat form, it's been a hit.

Carter Mills said...

@thayoost: The Mario Magritte shirt is from Threadless. It's sold out, though. You can request a reprint by clicking on your size anyway and they'll email you when (if) they reprint it.

Unknown said...

Well said.

And I've often complained that there's too many black T-shirts in the world. (Along with mugs. We could stop making both for a decade at least and be OK.)

Iroquois Pliskin said...

@thayoost: I really wish it were possible to get those Uniqlo shirts but I have a hard time figuring out if anything from that site can be sent over here.

@cyranix: I tried to find the company I bought it from when I was writing the article but I couldn't find it. It was some canadian guy named "hanso" or something and I had read about it on Game/Life (wired's game blog). Maybe it's still track-downable

chade fallstar said...

I'm a big fan of the PA WTB Epic Wang x 1

If one came up in the AH while I was stocking up on golden fish sticks and super mana pots. before a high level instance, I would def. BO.


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