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By now you’ve probably been told to Google “Zerg Rush” and seen your screen fall apart. (If you haven’t, go ahead and do so now. We’ll wait.) It’s arguably Google’s best Easter egg. But most people don’t the history behind why it happens or what it means.
“Zerg Rush” is a specific strategy in the video game Starcraft in which you throw huge amounts of disposable bodies at your opponent to overwhelm them.
In Starcraft, “Zerg” is an insect-like race that’s able to mass-produce units in a relatively short time frame. It’s one of three species in the game, along with Terran and Protoss, which are humans and humanoids, respectively. The “rush” part of “OMG ZERG RUSH!” refers to the strategy of attacking quickly, blitzkrieg-style.
As legend has it, the meme originated during a multiplayer match when one player launched a Zerg rush attack against an unprepared opponent who exclaimed “OMG ZERG RUSH,” much to the delight of the other players. Supposedly, this match was between Korean players, who make up a large part of Starcraft’s international players, and responded with “KEKEKEKE” (sometimes represented as ㅋㅋㅋ), which is the Korean version of “lololol” and also an onomatopoeia of the the Zerglings’ attack mode.
That’s why the proper response to “OMG ZERG RUSH” is “KEKEKE.”
In 2004, the meme began to grow outside of Starcraft fan circles, after the reference was posted on the website YMNTD and became a viral sensation, earning hundreds of thousands of views and inspiring countless variations.
In today’s internet parlance, “Zerg Rush” and “KEKEKEKE” can refer to any situation in which someone is outnumbered by a swarming crowd.
Grant Pardee is a writer and producer specializing in digital video, social media, and web culture reporting. He has produced videos for Fullscreen, SourceFed, and Funny or Die, and his work has been published by Vice, McSweeney's, and Rooster Teeth.