Most of the gangs I fight in video games actually seem like fun dudes to hang out with. Sure, you have to do some petty crime and probably get roughed up by heroes at some point, but their color-coded outfits and themes are on point. Whether the gimmick is baseball bats, Halloween makeup or pimp vests, everyone commits to the bit.
If the point of being a gang member is a feeling of belonging then it’s important to express that belonging in unison, even if it’s through a shared love of dressing like mimes and committing crimes. I’d happily sign up for membership in any of these video game crews.
10. JOKER’S GANG
‘Batman: Arkham City’
Several of Batman’s villains have lairs in Arkham City. Two-Face has a hideout in an old courthouse, while the Penguin has taken over a museum of natural history. Yawn. Meanwhile, the Joker’s goons get to dress like clowns and chill in an abandoned fairground where there are no signs saying you’re too short to ride and also you shouldn’t be holding a drink right now. They have balloons and fairy floss and I’m pretty sure there’s a bouncy castle back there.
Occasionally the Joker poisons someone, sure, but the rest of the time you’re living in a dream birthday party.
9. THE WARRIORS
The stars of the classic movie The Warriors got to feature in their own video game in 2005, alongside other themed gangs from its surreal version of New York, like the Gramercy Riffs and the Baseball Furies. But if you’re going to join one of New York’s gangs, you don’t want to join one that’s just good—you want to join the best.
Also, those red vests look really rad.
8. THE URUKS
‘Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor’
When the Orcs in Shadow Of Mordor aren’t being murdered they are living it up. They throw feasts, drink grog, and hunt dangerous beasts, sometimes all at once. They’re basically a fraternity, although their most elaborate hazing ritual a headbutt.
OK, maybe being one of the Orcs of Mordor means you’ll have to serve a warchief named Dushrat the Cruel, but you don’t have to like your boss to enjoy your job—especially when your job is drinking grog.
7. THE KINGS
‘Fallout: New Vegas’
Fans of Fallout 3 will still be quoting its gang catchphrase “Tunnel Snakes rule!” until the apocalypse finally comes, but the Kings from follow-up game Fallout: New Vegas are clearly the superior Wasteland crew.
They live in a world where few pre-war artifacts survive and yet, having stumbled across a school for Elvis impersonators in the ruins, they recognize the King as a man with a hairstyle worth emulating. God knows what they make their post-apocalyptic hair gel from.
6. POISON JAM
‘Jet Set Radio’
The sci-fi city of Tokyo-to has many gangs of rollerblading graffiti artists, but Poison Jam seem like the most fun.
When they’re not committing futuristic rollerblading graffiti crimes in their movie monster outfits—how do they hold spraycans in those claws, anyway?—they sit around watching classic horror films. What a life.
5. THE SHARKS
They may be named after a gang from the musical West Side Story but the Sharks in Earthbound seem like a much cooler bunch of delinquents. They wear sharkfins on their heads, they live in an arcade, and their weapons of choice are pogo sticks, skateboards, and hula hoops.
When they’re not trying to beat you up with them they must just be having a real swell time.
4. THE LOONIES
‘Grand Theft Auto 2’
The Grove Street Families from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are popular with GTA fans, but let’s remember the other green-uniformed goons of the series: the Loonies from GTA 2.
Former mental patients, they’ve taken over the asylum and turned it into their HQ. Almost every job they give you involves blowing something up. A megacorp has invented drugs that will cure their precious madness? Blow it up. A radio station’s subliminal messages are turning ordinary people crazy, diluting the Loonies’ brand? Blow it up. Pizza delivery guy gets their order wrong? KABOOM.
3. GANG BEASTS
In Gang Beasts all the players are wobbling jelly men in hats, Godzilla costumes and bear suits who clumsily wrestle in dangerous locations.
A ferris wheel, window-washing platforms, a furnace, on top of a truck—they don’t care. Their dedication to danger is laudable, and so too is the fact that they fight like they’re 12 beers to the wind in a car park outside the pub.
2. TEAM ROCKET
In the original Japanese, Team Rocket are called “Rocket-dan”, which translates as “Rocket gang” so don’t give me any of this they’re not a real gang nonsense. Also, if Team Rocket ever won and got their hands on Pikachu you know they’d treat him pretty well.
They may be bad guys but Team Rocket are always nice to their Pokémon, because even bad guys can have standards and you gotta respect that.
1. THE 3RD STREET SAINTS
The Saints Row games include motorcycle samurai, Mexican wrestlers, voodoo drug dealers, and cyberpunk TRON cosplayers. Compared to that the Saints seem pretty vanilla, but one of the strangest things about this strange series, in which the Saints go from street gang to humanity’s last hope against alien invaders, is how it develops its characters.
In contrast to the GTA series it parodies, the Saints Row games feature a cast of professionals who get along quite well rather than betraying each other at every turn. They even have singalongs in the car. They may be ultraviolent caricatures but they are also best buds and a weirdly perfect model for a close-knit gang of friends.
Jody Macgregor lives in Melbourne, Australia. He writes about games for PC Gamer, ZAM, and Rock, Paper Shotgun, and writes about music for The Big Issue, FasterLouder, and inthemix. He’s on Twitter at @jodymacgregor.
RELATED: Pam and Andrea are Unimpressed by Virtual Reality