‘But can it run Crysis?’—10 years of a PC gaming meme

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Meme culture was blowing up at the same time. 2007 was one of the most prolific years for viral internet jokes, delivering Chocolate Rain, Rick-rolling, turtles, and fellow videogame catchphrase, “The cake is a lie.”

Borne from a genuine question, bolstered by the absurd requirements to answer it, and fueled by the excitement over a new PC game that finally summoned the skills of hardware enthusiasts, “But can it run Crysis” started gathering momentum and wouldn’t stop rolling anytime soon.


These were the golden days. The meme business was booming under the umbrella of classics like ‘David after dentist’ and the three-wolf moon t-shirt. In the videogame sector, ‘But can it run Crysis’ was on top of the world. Only the most expensive machines could run the damn thing. Everyone knew someone who played on max settings, even if their PC could only run Crysis at 12 frames per second. We were all miserable, and we loved it.

The release of series spinoff Crysis Warhead did little to improve performance, sustaining the myth of unattainable framerates. Only those with high-end GPUs like the GeForce 9800 and Radeon HD 5850 were privy to the volumetric lighting and physics at 60-plus fps. 

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