Tekken director asks why Americans want Waffle House to be a stage in Tekken 8

An image of a waffle house in Alpharetta, Georgia with Tekken fighter Paul Phoenix overlaid on top. Paul Phoenix is wearing stars-and-stripes shoulderpads in the colors of the American flag.
(Image credit: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images, character Bandai Namco)

Katsuhiro Harada is a lifelong creator of fighting games, serving as director on the Tekken series since Tekken 3 and right up to the recent Tekken 8. Harada often has a lot of interesting or helpful stuff to say on social media, and is quite responsive to fans—which means people often reach out consistently with ideas, concepts, memes, and downright jokes.

Recently, Harada has been getting one request for a new Tekken stage: The American Southeast's 24 hour a day, seven day a week diner Waffle House.

"Ok, I will only ask once about this request. Why do some communities send me requests for 'Waffle House'? Please be sure to explain the basis for the request, including the original story, history and background. I look forward to an explanation from someone who knows more," asked Harada on Twitter/X.

Why do people want Waffle House, Mr. Harada? Because the place has become something of an internet meme for its status as somewhere that's pretty dang cheap, open 24 hours a day and—therefore—a place where drunk and high people get into fights. Fights with each other. With employees. With themselves.

Not that I condone this, of course, but you can find any number of internet fight videos set in a waffle house. This has been true for years, and as a bona fide American Southerner I haven't ever seen a fistfight in a Waffle House but I know a dozen people who've seen some kind of conflict—though mostly folks keep it to the parking lot if something's going to pop off.

The meme status of Waffle House fights went big time viral last year, though, when a Waffle House employee in Texas got caught on video catching a thrown chair and deftly twirling it aside.

Prior to this, the real meme for Waffle House aficionados was the part where it's not just open 24 hours, but it has contingency plans to be open in almost any weather or conditions—and we really do got those in the often Hurricane-hit southeast. If the power's out, they have a menu for that. If the water's not running they have a menu for that too. The government's disaster response team calls it the Waffle House Index.

Food and travel writer Anthony Bourdainonce called Waffle House "an irony free zone where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts; where everybody regardless of race, creed color or degree of inebriation, is welcomed. Its warm yellow glow a beacon of hope and salvation, inviting the hungry the lost the seriously hammered all across the south to come inside."

If you would, in absolute truth, like an example of what the Waffle House is to many places in the American south you need go no further than Anthony Bourdain's  journey there on his show Parts Unknown. I've linked it there, and I'll embed it below.

As for Tekken 8? That's been a huge success. We called it "a beautiful blend of nostalgia for longtime fans and a pair of welcoming arms for newbies" in the PC Gamer Tekken 8 review.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.