Immersion Broken: The Problem With Meme Reliance in MMOs
I have had this happen before… people calling me hypocritical for laughing at corny jokes and writing in one game, while bashing another for doing the same thing.
I laughed when Kaguya in Onigiri used the Doge meme.
I groaned in frustration when quests in TERA said things like “Gotta Kill Em All”
I chuckled when an NPC in the Secret World screamed “Get your stinkin paws off me, you damned dirty ape!”
I shrieked at my monitor when MegaGWolf linked me to the image of a Primal fight in FFXIV called “Quake Me Up Before You O’Ghomoro”
Why is it “ok” for that to happen in one game, while other games that do it infuriate me like no other? Well, as I said in the video that likely brought you looking for this article, “It’s all about context.”
In games like Onigiri, Loadout, or ZMR, the tone of the game is fitting of this kind of humor. Even in games that aren’t exactly lighthearted, like The Secret World still have moments of humor, and the real world setting of the game means these references aren’t uncommon or out of place. TSW’s leader of the Illuminati, the Pyramidion, is a disembodied voice that speaks using internet memes, and yet the character is presented in such a manner that you feel they actually are a character, and not simply a sequence of jokes serving to compensate for someone’s failed career in stand-up. Balance is key.
Alternatively, we have TERA, FFXIV and hell, even World of Warcraft. These are all worlds with established lore, yet plagued by stupid shoehorned modern day memes and stupid jokes. I can sort of give a pass to WoW, as the game is Blizzard’s through and through, but they have an occasional tendency to rely on memes too much.
This is why EnMasse is so much more suited for ZMR than TERA. ZMR is a Chinese GoW clone, filled with busty scientists, jiggle physics, guns, robots, zombies, Egyptian gods, and undead concubines. The game is clearly batshit insane and should be treated as such. Regardless of the choice outfits in TERA, however, that game is a world with established characters, an ongoing story, and a fantasy setting. The constant barrage of rampant perversion and stupid jokes with modern references seem painfully out of place in the setting, and comes across as blatant disrespect to the developer and their story.
This is also what makes Final Fantasy XIV so intolerably frustrating. As I said, it’s a FINAL FANTASY GAME. Why did the translation team need to rely on that stupid crap to carry the story? Were they being lazy? Were they not aware of the pedigree of the game they were working with? Are the blissfully unaware of the seriousness of the story, and what came before it?
Here… I’m going to put this in perspective. Below is a video showing the final moments of FFXIV 1.0 before the “extinction event” that took that version of the game down forever. I want you to put yourself into the shoes of these players… to stand around and witness the burning sky of their world…the slow haunting music singing them to their end… the inevitable countdown to their demise that all culminated with this cutscene:
I didn’t even give a shit about FFXIV 1.0, and all for dancing the “Suck it, Squeenix” dance upon its failure, but holy hell if that scene didn’t resonate with me on an emotional level. To witness such utter despair, to see the world people had played and lived in, torn apart by fire and destruction… to see the look of hope upon that Elezan’s face as he manages to port away most of the population of that world, smiling before being consumed by a wall of flames, and fading out to black… it got to me. Now I have to imagine that image. That scenario… every time I come across another instance of “Giant Enemy Crab”, “Give It To Me Raw” or the EX Shiva achievement being called “Let It Go”.
The translation team feeling its story is so weak that they have to rely on stupid jokes and memes for nearly everything in the game is blatant and utter disrespect for the source material, and I find it utterly reprehensible and disgusting. Hell the whole thing gets me so riled up that I had a knee-jerk reaction of anger when I saw a quest called “Too Many Cooks” until I realized there was no way that was made in reference to that very recent Adult Swim sketch.
Now, I understand that we are not all roleplayers. Not everyone cares about the story, or the characters, and that’s fine. But keep in mind those that do. Lord of the Rings fans aren’t going to be pleased when they’re trying to roam around Middle-Earth and take in the sights and sounds of Bree, while seeing an elf named Bonerlord69 running by.
When the game itself starts making the boner jokes instead… we feel the devs really don’t care about the game that we care about, and our confidence in their abilities, our hope for the future of the game, and our immersion, is completely broken.
I’ll leave you all with a final link to a video that Rob “Tyger” Rubin did on his show MUD2MMO that also covers the subject of immersion and memes, and his reasons for abandoning all hope for World of Warcraft.
The Terrorizing of TERA Rising
Hoo boy. Geez… you just never know how things are going to turn out, do ya?
I was originally going to do this as an OWU, but I have far delayed this beyond being able to call this an Off-Week. However, as much as I DON’T want to reopen this can of worms, I will address a few of the most common criticisms of what I’d said.
- “You hated this game, so you were unfair to it!”
Oh. This WAS me being fair. Those who attended my stream, or hell, even read what I’d written on this very site a few times know just how much I really despise TERA. Regardless I could have been much MUCH harsher to this game, but I reeled back every time I felt something was unquestionably my distaste and not being an objective representation of the game. I personally find the combat to be painfully overrated, the graphics to be “pretty for the sake of pretty”, lacking completely in immersion and substance. I’m not just including this because of a certain commenter that seems to have at least backed off from trying to infiltrate my filters, as it was a fairly common observation. However, I can’t help but wonder… had I not openly stated my distaste for this game, would everyone still think I was being unfair, and taking every standard observation and critique as a damnation of this game?
- “Playing an Elin doesn’t make me a pedo!”
I never said it did. This was probably the moment that most baffling got taken out of context. This whole part was a mere observation of the most common criticism of TERA, as well as addressing the controversy behind it. I fully understand there are players of the game, usually female players, who like the Elin because they are a “cute and girly” race that still can kick ass with giant axes and swords. It’s a fun juxtaposition, and no different from the players of WoW who wanted to play as Female Gnomes for the same reason. However, there’s another audience out there who aren’t interested in them for that. There’s a reason they’re wearing bikini bottom thongs in Korea, and despite why YOU play an Elin, there are many MANY others playing them for an entirely different reason. Those crying censorship over them being placed in (very short) shorts I can’t help but feel shouldn’t concern themselves with their avatar’s crotch, “fashion faux-pas” or not. Trust me, most of those in an uproar were NOT concerned about the “fashion choice”. Also the last sentence of the rant was meant for those people, not for people who roll Elin in general. They’re the ones trying to excuse their behavior with logic detours, like “But they’re really thousands of years old!” That does not make an avatar designed to look like an 8 year old OK to dress up in revealing clothing, and no amount of stupid arguments I have received, or have yet to receive, will convince me otherwise. I will not budge on this stance. As I said to one comment on this site mocking me for this purely opinionated observation, “I’m objective to the games. Pedos can fuck right off.”
- “Quest translation was fun, not bad!”
Story time. Does anyone remember US anime publisher “ADV Films”, original rights holder to Evangelion, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, Martian Successor Nadesico, Generator Gawl and many more? Well they got a LOT of shit for “playing around” with translations, in some cases the English Dub was so far from the Subtitled track that they were almost literally two different stories. Entire SCENES would have their meaning changed. I remember specifically in Gawl when two female characters were talking about the main characters, the Japanese track was a fairly innocuous conversation about crushes, while the English Dub had them speculating if the main character was gay. This was pretty common in early ADV stuff, dropping in purely American references that wouldn’t make contextual sense in the universe of the show, or adding in lines that were never there. What ADV saw as spicing up the dialogue and “having fun”, a lot more anime fans took as being disrespectful to the original content. When you have characters in space making references to an old McDonalds slogan it not only rips you out of the universe, it completely dates it, a joke that will be killed by time. I feel EnMasse is doing this exact thing with TERA. How can you respect a story that doesn’t respect itself? This is a pretty common thing in Free-to-Plays, to be honest, especially with Korean Grinders. LUNA Online was notorious for it, but what story did it have? TERA obviously has a story, with cutscenes abound, (even if the Vekas thing is horrendously stupid) but when your game seems to not give a shit about something that’s obviously there, it comes across as being just as disrespectful as those old ADV translations. If it’s your lore, like Blizzard (notorious for references abound), fine, do whatever you want. But it’s not EnMasse’s story. It’s Bluehole’s.
- “The game isn’t grindy at all!”
Again, I think this is some out of context observations being translated incorrectly, but I feel this game is a SLOG, not a grind. When I think grind, it’s when I’m out of quests and am forced to walk around killing monsters in order to reach a new level. When I think slog, it’s when the quests themselves feel like you’re grinding, and TERA has NO imagination on what it’s doing. It’s the most basic quest types in MMOs. you kill, you collect, you travel. NOTHING interesting happens during any of these moments. Other MMOs might try to break up the monotony, changing up what you do mid-quest, having an event occur while you’re playing, but TERA keeps things at the basic formula and does nothing to change it, relying solely on the combat to carry it along… when you don’t think the combat is the best thing ever, it’s NOT fun to play. With only a level 60 cap, I don’t see why people think this game has fast progression. I even crowdsourced the question to Twitter, believing maybe I was being unfair, but a lot more people felt the game just drags on. The 20-30 minute opening tutorial followed by an even longer and insultingly simple Newbie Island is NOT a good way to start out the game. I think the game would been loads better if they cut down the time of both areas, or removed one of them altogether. (Yes, I know the tutorial is skippable later, but being forced to enter it initially, only being able to skip it by logging out and in shows they really wanted people to play it.) In any case, it’s a poorly paced game and could seriously benefit from some early game streamlining.
With that I am DONE talking about TERA. Not planning on a backtrack for a LONG time, and I uninstalled it the minute the review was uploaded. If you like, cool, great, whatever. I’m not stopping you, and you certainly shouldn’t need my approval. However, you want to know how I really feel, it should be pretty obvious by now. There’s also a “secret code” of recommendation I do only on Blistered Thumbs. I wonder if anyone noticed it yet…