VERIFY Fact Check |

No, a coconut picture is not what’s keeping a popular computer game running

A quote attributed to a game developer claiming that a coconut image was keeping Team Fortress 2 from crashing was actually just a joke by a Reddit user.
Credit: Agave Studio - stock.adobe.com

tweet showing a photo of a coconut and describing this photo’s important role in keeping the popular decade-old free-to-play computer game Team Fortress 2 [TF2] running properly went viral among fans who have long joked about the game’s wonky coding.

According to the tweet, a game developer noted, “I have no ******* idea who put this here, but when I deleted it the game wouldn’t start. Words cannot describe my ******* confusion.”

That description of events has become a source of viral jokes in the game’s community, and people have begun sharing it as a factual retelling of why the unused coconut image is in the game’s files.

THE QUESTION

Did a game developer for the game Team Fortress 2 discover an unused coconut picture in the files was necessary to run the game?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

No. While this unused coconut picture is in the game’s files, there’s no evidence that the game would stop working if it was removed. The quote was a joke made by a Reddit user.

WHAT WE FOUND

The coconut image first gained attention in the game’s community when a person discovered it and posted it to Reddit in September 2020. Sure enough, the coconut picture can be found if you dig through the game’s files, it can be found inside of a “tf2_textures_dir.vpk” file under the name “coconut.vtf.”

Credit: VERIFY

It takes a special program to convert it into a viewable image file, but when you do it’s the same coconut image from the viral tweet.

log of the game’s update history shows that the file was added to the game in a June 2014 update.

The top comment from that original Reddit thread is the exact quote in the viral tweet. That quote cannot be found anywhere before that user, u/Bucketfullabiscuits, posted it to Reddit.

Following the recent virality of the coconut file, u/Bucketfullabiscuits clarified in another thread that his original comment was a joke. “You've probably seen the memes by now, and I don't mean to be a killjoy, but it hits different seeing people post memes that quote my silly comment word for word as a dev note,” he said. “I don't have a good way of interacting and checking if this file actually crashes TF2, but it probably doesn't, sorry.”

No developer at Valve, the company that created TF2, has ever mentioned anything about the coconut file publicly before. Given that the original claim came from a joke by someone not affiliated with the game’s development team, it’s unlikely the unused coconut photograph has any impact on the game’s ability to start.

VERIFY

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