Meet Batman: Arkham World – The Batman Game That Doesn’t Exist

The reason we call it The Arkham Trilogy is because it has three games in it. Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, and Batman: Arkham Knight. There's a fourth game sometimes thrown in there too – Batman: Arkham Origins. However, as this prequel is largely disconnected from the story and was made by a different developer, using the Arkham name purely as a way to piggyback off the prestige of the trilogy, most players don't count it. However, there is a second fourth game in the trilogy – Arkham World. The problem with this game is that it doesn't exist.

For the past few weeks, the Batman: Arkham community on Reddit has been discussing the game at length, debating over the playable Alfred sections, the controversial Batman/Poison Ivy romance, the mesmerising title screen, complaining about spoilers, celebrating the game's anniversary, discussing the Killer Moth sex scene, and wondering whether the Batgirl skin will be removed from the game following the movie being pulled. Again, this game does not exist. It's not a fan game, it is completely made up. With every new post, every comment, every piece of fan art, the mythos of the game grew.

It’s the perfect encapsulation of what a video game community is. A bunch of people with a shared interest all celebrating together. That it doesn't exist is irrelevant. Arkham is never getting another game. Suicide Squad being set in its universe feels like a technicality when there's a reimagined Harley and seemingly no other connection to Batman. It's people coming together to have fun – isn't that what video games are about? And, in perhaps an even better encapsulation of what a video game community is, the most popular post on the subreddit while Arkham World has been going on is the discovery that Harley Quinn's buttcheeks have jiggle physics in Arkham Knight. Whether they were present in Arkham World is, so far, a mystery.

This sealed off little section of Bat paradise came crashing down over the weekend when a tweet revealing Arkham World to the Real World hit 50k likes. I saw it at the weekend and thought I'd write about it Monday, and in the meantime at least one other site (CBR) also wrote about it. Both the tweet and CBR's article have since been shared on the sub, with World fans lamenting the death of the meme. Arkham: Lot's Wife.

I wonder how this might have happened had I discovered the story naturally. Would I have simply smiled and let it pass on by, tried to keep it insulated and pure, rather than bring down the happy little fantasy with interlopers all keen to get in on the fun with no idea of the rules and mores? Had I found it first, would I have kept it to myself, rather than tweet about it, as it was first exposed, or write about it, as I am doing now to expose it further still? There is, of course, a hopeful part of me that thinks of course I would have let this blissful, happy corner of what is so often a toxic player base (gamers in general, rather than Batman: Arkham fans) be. There's also a more Harley Quinnesque side of me that, as it was for the original tweeter, might have found sharing this with the world impossible to resist. All things must end, after all.

I'm not entirely sure how the Arkham World 'players' feel about their newfound and yet fleeting fame. They have, in their inimitable style, been memeing about the tweet and subsequent follow-up articles as killing the pure sense of joy Arkham World provided, but while exposure may have accelerated the decline, it has also provided a new stage in the game's life-cycle. It is at least ending with a bang rather than a whimper. I'm sorry, Arkham World fans, for killing the joke by explaining it – but everyone deserved to know.

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