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Veteran Member - Level 13
When I'm considering my next game purchase, I usually look towards my favorite reviewers for help. Other times I'll just ask some of my friends what they think of the game, once they've sat with it long enough.
As time goes on and gaming becomes ever more mainstream, I'm starting to consider whether or not a title's memes are a legitimate way to judge the game itself. Love them or hate them, they achieve something that no video review or internet blog can: a meme captures a prime, often knee-jerk reaction from the game they're from.
"Surely you jest, Cru Hunter. We've hung upon your every previous blog with sheer awe until now. How can it be that the unwashed gamer masses can produce a single meme as legitimately critical as a professional review?"
Two things: One, aww, you make me blush; two, well, good question. Look at some of the games recently released, and you'll see my point: the more popular the meme among a game's fanbase, the more likely it's a good look at what the game has to offer, or shows what the game suffers from.
You have to look at every meme the same way as you would any other review of a game. Just as there are terrible reviews, which consist of a low score and the apt description "Eye thnk dis game sux bawlz," not every meme deserves your attention. Just as there are popular, very refined and well-thought-out reviews, there are memes that tackle legitimate complaints and support legitimate positives within the game they're posted about.
Common sense is also a factor: buying a game because of a single review is similarly a questionable decision as buying a game based on one meme. If multiple reviews complain about a lack of story, terrible gameplay, and horrendous graphics, multiple memes will likely do so as well. And of , as with any review, take every meme, and even this blog, with a grain of salt.
Sometimes memes embody a huge controversy, but more often than not they're simply gripes about details.
Memes from Mass Effect 3 take the former to heart. Let's face it: Mass Effect 3 will be remembered for two things: the excellent 99%, and that 1% gamers just won't shut up about. My favorite video review of Mass Effect 3's ending mentioned the inspiration for this blog, and had an interesting point: that one percent made a lot of gamers change from this Fry...
...to this Fry
The sheer number of memes about Mass Effect 3's ending is staggering. When I read my usual reviewers to help me decide whether or not I should buy Mass Effect 3, there was no mention of the game's ending at all: how open it was, how it hiccuped in its scene continuity, etc.
But when I waited an extra few weeks or so, I found that googling Mass Effect 3 images would turn up more negative memes about the game's ending than actual in-game images. Realizing how controversial the ending could be, I decided to check with friends and fellow internetz users. What I heard from them echoed what the memes were all saying: this ending really, really sucks.
Still, I loved Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, the reviews I read nearly worshiped the title, and so I gave it a shot. While most of the game followed much of what the reviewers I'd read had mentioned, my thoughts on the ending resonated with many of the de-motivational posters and Xibit "yo dawg"s I found online.
Just as the meme above, the Mass Effect 3 ending made no sense to me when I thought about it.
As I said before, sometimes the memes run with a more specific complaint. After all, the details matter.
Take, for example, repetitive dialogue that's literally everywhere in Skyrim. This meme has been done to death, and for good reason: it seems like no matter what guard I talk to, they're always complaining about taking an arrow to the knee and lamentations of an ex-adventurer like myself.
Or memes might embody annoyance, for example, that a certain highly anticipated sequel just won't freakin' release already. I swear Gabe has a drawer somewhere in which he keeps all of the sequels that would cap off a trilogy.
And of course, memes tackle minute details within games that just don't make any logical sense what so ever.
Now, I'm an avid believer in garnering a substantial amount of information before deciding on a purchase. I read reviews, talk to friends, look on metacritic, and often wait a few weeks for patches and updates to ensure a better experience. What I am really considering is adding "look at the game's memes" to my pre-purchase checklist. Looking through them all, I really do see some valid problems hinted at that held true in the memes' respective games.
When I'm considering my purhcase of, say, Assassin's Creed 3 or Borderlands 2, I'll read reviews from GameInformer and watch a little of what GameTrailers has to say, maybe check Metacritic and select some reviews from there. This time around, however, maybe I'll add checking Google Images once again to see what gamers are whining about. After all, if you want a complaint distilled into one image, you can't do much better than a meme.