Everyone knows that a good mascot can make a difference between a video game's death and rabid popularity. Mario, Master Chief, Duke Nuke 'Em, Pac-Man, Samus Aran, Pyramid Head -- each one of these mascots isn't merely an aspect of the game, they are the virtual spokesperson (or spokesthing) which represents the game itself.

Yet when you think about it, MMOs have had a tougher time producing mascots than other video game genres, partially because unlike other games, you don't play as the mascots, and partially because when you have a cast of thousands of NPCs, picking out one to elevate above the rest is a difficult job.

Difficult, that is, but not impossible. Today we're going to look at ten MMO mascots (MMOscots?) that studios have tried to promote as the face of these games, to varying degrees of success.

1. Squigs, Warhammer Online

As part of the hype train (chugga-chugga-choo-choo!) for WAR, Mythic leaned on these deadly-yet-lovable balls of teeth and fangs when it promoted the title, and the little buggers caught on with the MMO crowd. They embodied the askew fantasy motif of the game perfectly and gave us all a role model to admire.

2. Elfy McNoClothes, EverQuest

Oh sure, she's got a real name and probably some elaborate 500-page backstory about how her village was decimated by the forces of evil but she was saved by a kindly old man and a playful sprite named Pippy after which she grew up unaware that she was the "Chosen One" spoken about in the annuls of yore, but to me she'll always be Elfy McNoClothes, the subtle promise that if you play EQ, you'll be hanging out with women of loose morals.

All I can say is that I hope, for her sake, that magic comes with temperature control settings. Because otherwise, girl's gonna get frostbite.

3. Angel and Devil, Faxion Online

It's past time that the shoulder-sitting representations of one's conscience finally threw down, and what better place to do it than in the ads for Faxion Online? Adorable and vicious, these two will never come to a partisan agreement, if you get my gist. Oh yes, there will be blood.

4. Chatdy, Free Realms

OK, I get that by the time SOE was hard at work on Free Realms, the marketing team realized that all the "good" types of cute animals were already taken for mascots, leaving platypi, blind moles, and flying squirrels. So I don't blame the team for working within the limitations left to them, but something about Chatdy just rubs me wrong. Maybe it's his lazy name ("Uh, he likes to talk... talk... chat! Chatdy!") or that oh-so-smug expression that telegraphs to me "I have your credit card information now, sucka, what are you going to do about it?" Whatever the case, he and I do not have a trusting relationship.

5. Broccoli, Dungeons & Dragons Online

Definitely one of the stranger entries on this list, DDO's Broccoli popped up in a series of tongue-in-cheek ads promoting the game's F2P launch. With the catchphrase "I'm nutritious!", Broccoli stormed the fortress of player hearts and declared his eternal conquest complete. Turbine brought back the Broccoli silliness for this past year's April Fool's joke, where it announced that players could finally try out the vegetable as a race that could "battle the flu." I'd buy that for a dollar.

6. Statesman, City of Heroes

Our own Eliot is less-than-fond of Statesman, accusing the hero of "[deriving] his powers from Jack Emmert's ego, thereby giving him nearly limitless everything as long as Emmert was in charge." I can understand his frustration, but like it or not, Statesman is plastered all over City of Heroes and it's going to take a whole lotta retconning to get rid of his smug visage.

7. Leets, Anarchy Online

Leets are the charming background heroes of Anarchy Online, little critters with 1337-speak names who often taunt and rebuke you as immaturely as possible. I love them. I want one as an actual pet if some scientist could make that happen. Leets always kept my ego in check while playing AO, perpetually reminding me that it is, after all, just a game.

8. Sarah Morrison, Tabula Rasa

As the inspirational hero plastered all over Tabula Rasa's cover, Sarah Morrison taught us the important lesson that while our planet may have been invaded and we're seconds away from extinction as a species, that's no reason not to look ridiculously hot. So hot, in fact, that Morrison somehow located the post-apocalyptic offices of Playboy and signed up for a few risque pin-ups (yes, these exist, and no, I'm not linking to them, you sick pervert).

9. Arthas, World of Warcraft

Forget Illidan, Ragnaros and Deathwing -- Arthas the Lich King was and always will be the poster-boy for World of Warcraft. His fame hit an all-time high with Warcraft III, and players simply could not wait for a rematch against this good-boy-turned-bad. He had a "obviously not compensating for anything" giant sword, a wicked-looking suit of armor, and a love for all things emo. He was an idol.

Of course, one has to wonder if it's all downhill now that Blizzard pulled him out for its second expansion. I guess it's kind of like going from The Joker to fourth-tier villains in any given Batman franchise; they're poor substitutes.

10. Gwen, Guild Wars

Gwen is one of the first NPCs in Guild Wars that you really want to punt across the field but can't because, y'know, she's just an annoying little girl and society frowns on that. Help her or not, she'll make your life a living hell in the pre-Ascalon setting with her skipping, incessant questions, and love of all things flutey. Then, she gets captured by the Charr and turns into a total badass, so I guess these things have a way of working themselves out.

The popularity of this character in Prophecies influenced ArenaNet to bring her back for the game's only sequel -- a sequel whose initials are quite telling (Guild Wars: Eye of the North).

Justin "Syp" Olivetti enjoys counting up to ten, a feat that he considers the apex of his career. If you'd like to learn how to count as well, check out The Perfect Ten. You can contact him via email at justin@massively.com or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.

This article was originally published on Massively.