The best tattoos in games

Tattoos are a great way to add realism to a world, or give a character an interesting backstory, or just make it very clear that they’re a badass. With the updated graphics of new-gen consoles making characters look more realistic than ever, tattoos in games have come a long way from pixelated anchors or a name emblazoned across a chest (although Johnny Cage’s tattoo is iconic). Some games, like the Yakuza series, even hire real-life tattoo artists to draw their in-game ink.

Wow! Stunning Video Game Tattoos

I’ve been wanting a tattoo for a long time now and recently I’ve finally chosen my design (not video game related though) and now I only need to drop by my chosen studio for a consultation and to schedule an actual appointment. That made me think; why not create a post of beautiful video game tattoos? Maybe if you want a gamer tattoo and don’t know which one to get, you can get inspired by some of these!

Please make sure to NOT copy these designs, stealing somebody else’s tattoo is not cool and reputable tattoo artists will not tattoo a design made by someone else. If you like some of these, you can take them to your tattoo artist and let them come up with their own spin on it and personalize it just for you.

video game tattoos

PSA: If you do decide to get a tattoo, please do your reasearch first – the style, theme and placement you want and then finding a reputable artist that can bring your idea to life. Tattoos are not cheap, so steer clear of any “tattoo artists” who offer their services for $10!

Depending on the size of the tattoo (and the studio’s base price), good tattoos go above $100. It’s better to save up than regret a $10 work with squiggly lines, blowouts and poor design. Sure, you can get it lasered off nowadays, but it’s expensive and in the end might cost you more than what you’d pay for a great tattoo in the first place.

I also included the link to the artists (if I could find it) with each image. I encourage you to browse their Instagrams/Facebook pages/websites, everyone has such a great portfolio!

Note: Please forgive me if I mislabel tattoo styles, I’m still learning! 🙂 If you find any errors, please let me know in the comments below.

Super Mario Tattoos

Super Mario is super popular (see what I did there? 😀 ), so it’s only logical that a lot of gamer tattoos would feature elements from the games. All different styles and clever designs!Ester Sans video game tattoo mario angelo

The pixel star is made by Ester Sans. Love the clean lines, boldness, colors and the shading. With pixel artwork it’s important that lines that should be straight aren’t squiggly and Ester did that beautifully. What caught my attention of the second tattoo was the pixel transformation of Mario and the bright bold colors. Tattoo by Angelo Cadoni.video game tattoo mario andy video game tattoo mario rodney

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All of the Mario tattoos that I’ve found are bright and nicely saturated with a lot of colors. Luigi and Princess Peach tattoo made by Andy Walker and the Wario and Toad calf tattoo is by Rodney Eckenberger.video game tattoo mario raph video game tattoo mario troy

The first Mario tattoo is done in a neo traditional style by Raphael Masin. The Piranha Plant tattoo takes a little darker turn on the theme with all the added blood. Tattooed by Troy Slack.

The Legend of Zelda Tatoos

The Legend of Zelda is no less popular than Super Mario.Kristina Darmaeva Katie Tattoos

While I do like color tattoos, I have to say that black and grey and blackwork tattoos are my absolute favorite. The Majora’s Mask tattoo in blackworkstyle is amazing, the line work and the shading are so stunning! Tattoo artist is Kristina Darmaeva. The colored triforce tattoo is made by Katie Tattoos.video game tattoo zelda evan video game tattoo zelda fredao

Arm sleeve inspired by Legend of Zelda by the talented Evan Yu. The Deku Tree is an amazing, highly detailed blackwork style tattoo made by Fredão Oliveira. Make sure to check out his other stuff as well, his work is stunning!

Fallout Tattoos

video game tattoo fallout troy video game tattoo fallout niki

The colored calf tattoo pays a homage to all things Fallout, tattooed by Troy Slack. The realistic black and grey tattoo is packed with clean lines and a lot of detail. By niki23gtr. video game tattoo fallout niki1 video game tattoo fallout jordan

Why stick to one themed video game sleeve when you can have multiple? Great mix of Fallout and Space Invaders by niki23gtr. The half sleeve was designed by Jordan Croke.

Other Video Game Tattoos

video game tattoo wow polart video game tattoo wow sandry

A pop of color in an otherwise black and grey tattoo really appeals to me. Amazing portrait of Lady Sylvanas from World of Warcraft done by Pol_art. Black and grey World of Warcraft sleeve done by Sandry Riffard.

The best tattoos in games

Cyberpunk 2077

Whether you’re tatted IRL or not, you have to admit you’ve pondered the best tattoos in games.

Tattoos are a great way to add realism to a world, or give a character an interesting backstory, or just make it very clear that they’re a badass. With the updated graphics of new-gen consoles making characters look more realistic than ever, tattoos in games have come a long way from pixelated anchors or a name emblazoned across a chest (although Johnny Cage’s tattoo is iconic). Some games, like the Yakuza series, even hire real-life tattoo artists to draw their in-game ink.

Contemporary games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla even let you customize your character’s tattoos, offering myriad ways to get tatted up in the virtual world. Still, some of gaming’s best tattoos come from previous console generations and worlds like Mass Effect and Borderlands.

Tattoo culture and video game culture are intertwined, and as GamesRadar’s resident Tattooed Person, it only makes sense that I judge the best tattoos in games.

Jack – Mass Effect series

An icon when it comes to tattooed game characters, Jack from Mass Effect has some of the coolest ink both in games and out of them. Not only is she covered head to toe (and I mean covered – there’s not a lot of free real estate here), but every single one of her tattoos points to her tragic backstory. Thanks to The Art of Mass Effect Universe book, we know that Jack’s tattoos are deeply connected to her life – and are a visual reminder of her badassery. The black skeletons going down her arms are meant to represent how many guards she’s killed and how, as the red circles and lines show where she landed a killing blow. Stars and ticks represent her years spent imprisoned, teardrops represent the gang members she’s taken down, and an asari family name hints at her origins.

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If you want to see her tattoos in all their glory, you should probably check out Mass Effect: Legendary Edition.

Eivor – Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a great example of how tattoos can make character customization so much more fun. Eivor can go to to her village’s tattoo artist and change up her ink, finding new designs along the way. The only reason I do those annoying “chase the paper” quests is so that I can get new tattoo designs, and they’re often worth the hassle.

There’s tons of tattoo designs available, with five different placement options: head, chest, left arm, right arm, and back. The tattoos include Viking runes, Norse emblems, and other historically accurate imagery. Some of them look more like body paint, but still give off incredibly cool (and intimidating vibes). And the best thing is, with the head tats and some arm tats extending to the fingers, you can see Eivor’s ink even when she’s donning full armor.

Kratos – God Of War series

You can’t have a best tattoos in games list without Kratos, whose swirling crimson ink can make or break a cosplay. And like many of us who get tattoos, there’s meaning in this ink – in God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Kratos believes his brother Deimos has been killed by Ares and Athena. In memory of him, and as a reminder to never get caught slipping again, Kratos tattooed himself in a pattern that mimicked Deimos’ rather unusual birthmark. Kratos has some of the most striking tattoos ever depicted in a game, and trust me, I’ve seen tattoos like this in real life – they’re wild.

The newest God of War has some other fantastic tattoos, including Atreus’ finger tats and Baldur’s incredible tattoos. Sony Santa Monica must have some tattoo fans at the studio.

Judy Alvarez – Cyberpunk 2077

Judy Alvarez is tattooed in a way that is currently very popular in the tattoo world, a kind of piecemeal, sticker-looking style that evokes flash sheets hanging in tattoo shops. Her tattoos are gathered in random groups dispersed across her body, with several different styles represented. There’s some American traditional or neo-traditional style tattoos, like the roses interspersed all over her body or the shark on her flank. There’s also quite a few bits of text on her body, both quotes and random numbers and letters. Her tattoos are either black or red, which evokes a tattoo style called trash polka

Agent 47 – Hitman series

My man has a barcode tattooed on his head. Is there anything else that needs to be said about this?

I’ve seen barcode tattoos IRL before, and while they don’t mean the tattooed person is the 47th clone in a long line of expert assassins, it does usually mean they have a great sense of humor. So there’s that.

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Kazuma Kiryu – Yakuza series

Tattoos and Japan have a very complicated relationship, with ink often associated with members of yakuza. While not everyone who has tattoos in Japan is a gang member, yakuza members in media are almost always covered in ink. Kazuma Kiryu of the Yakuza series is no exception, and his intricate back piece is one of the best tattoos in games, featuring a massive Japanese traditional dragon swathed in red smoke across his entire backside. His ink looks so good because Japanese traditional tattoo artist Horimoto (opens in new tab) was brought in by Sega to design all of Yakuza’s ink – and that attention to detail shows.

Kiryu’s tattoos are even realistically depicted in terms of stages – in case you’ve never been tattooed, you might not know that you rarely ever get a huge tattoo all in one sitting. Oftentimes artists will go in and do a black outline in several sessions before even touching the skin with color, and in Yakuza 0 you can see that both Kiryu and Akira Nishikiyama have only the outlines finished on their pack pieces. How cool is that?

Faith – Mirror’s Edge

Faith in Mirror’s Edge has some immaculate style, and that extends to her body art. Like all runners (the game’s illegal couriers), Faith has a “tag”, or a tattoo that delineates her as someone who can transport your documents without getting snagged by the bad guys. But Faith went a step further and got her runner’s tag tattooed around her eye as well, putting my feeble attempts at graphic eyeliner to shame.

Lilith – Borderlands series

Lilith is pretty badass, and her tattoos are no exception – although it certainly seems like all the Borderlands sirens have similar ink. The swirling blue tattoos are a representation of their powers and therefore a marker of the siren. Since only six can exist at a time, it saves them the awkwardness of walking into a bar and seeing someone else has the exact same tattoo as them, which happens to so many of us who thought the Deathly Hallows was a brilliant ink choice.

Slight spoiler for Borderlands 3: A cool siren tattoo bit is when Lilith is sapped of her powers by the baddies in Borderlands 3 and her tattoos transfer over to them. Lovely little bit of design, that.

If you enjoy character customization as much as you enjoy tattoos, check out list of the best RPGs you can play right now.

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Alyssa Mercante is an editor and features writer at GamesRadar based out of Brooklyn, NY. Prior to entering the industry, she got her Masters’s degree in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Newcastle University with a dissertation focusing on contemporary indie games. She spends most of her time playing competitive shooters and in-depth RPGs and was recently on a PAX Panel about the best bars in video games. In her spare time Alyssa rescues cats, practices her Italian, and plays soccer.