Posted February 11, 2008 in Feature Story

For many, video games are a fun—if not childish—pastime. For Tim “Ninja Timmy” Stewart, they’re a part of his being. What could be more appropriate to permanently etch onto his skin than what’s already permanently etched onto his soul? Like Mario. And Master Chief.

A tattoo should mean something to the wearer, says Stewart, and his mean a lot. “Video games are part of who I am. I grew up on them,” he says.

He grew up in a small, rural town in Illinois, where boredom held him captive. But when he was five, Mario came to the rescue. “I was so into (Super Mario Bros.) that the first time I held a controller was also the first time I had an erection.”

Though his skills in Street Fighter grew daily, his skills in doing schoolwork fell short of pleasing his teachers. “They put me in special ed. They thought I had ADD. And I was the only Asian kid in an all-white community. Anybody different was looked at through a microscope.”

Finally, in high school, one of his teachers suspected the system had misplaced him. So they tested him, and the results spoke for themselves. He wasn’t mentally deficient; he just wanted to play video games instead of do work. Back to normal classes he went.

Now he makes his home in Menifee, another small town on the other side of the U.S. “[Video games] play a vital role in my life,” he says. “In a small town like this, if you’re not out partying or in a crappy emo band, you’ve got to be playing video games.”

Tattoos serve as reminders of the things he loves in life. “Some people get pictures of their mom on their butt,” Stewart says. “It happens that I love Zelda.”

They also remind him of his accomplishments. He got the symbol for the Legendary game mode of Halo tattooed on his shoulder after beating Halo and its sequel in one day.

“My Mortal Kombat tattoos remind me of what a ninja I am. It’s where I learned all my karate skills.”

His tattoos also remind him of his religious practices. “Every Sunday morning, I wake up early and play PS2. And I just pray to God that I can survive another day on San Andreas.

“Everyone wants to get a picture of the Grim Reaper tattooed on them, something that says, ‘I’m so cool!’” says Stewart. “My tats say, ‘I’m old school, young at heart, and I have imagination.’”

When somebody accuses Stewart of being a dork because of his tats, he knows just what to do. “I tell them that I am who I am, and I can’t deny it. Then I’d fire-flower them.” (Peter Surowski)


To get a closer look at Ninja Timmy’s tats, visit





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