At E3 This Year, Memes Won

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A little over eight years ago, just a month prior to E3 even, a little game called Skate 3 was unleashed on the world. At the time, the third installment of the popular skateboarding franchise touted the idea of forming a skate crew with your friends and really embodied the simulation of skating, nearly paralleling exactly how cool it felt to do a trick or even just push. Little did the world know though that this near perfect foray into skate culture would be the final one of the series. Despite popularity among its fanbase, popularity on Youtube, great sales, and as I’ll bring up later, memes, Skate did not continue beyond its third entry, much to the chagrin of the millions of fans it had attracted by the end of its brief lifetime.

The reason this is important this far down the line is because this week at the Microsoft conference, we got confirmation that a skateboarding game unrelated to Tony Hawk or Skate is happening. It’s called Session, it’s releasing in early access, seems like a novel approach to building a game world and features a true-to-life progression system that feels like the natural evolution of Skate. I’d be so bold as to say that upon release, it’ll do bigger numbers than Skate, even, and will actually be the next great skateboarding game. But it was almost Skate, and I think we owe Skate for it.

Yep, that looks just like Skate.

I don’t know how much I have to explain internet memes in an internet article. I don’t even know if I can explain memes at this point, as I’ve lost the narrative there. The basics of it is that the internet, in its seemingly infinite capacity to keep a joke running, does so without end. It means that every joke is played out before it was even novel. More importantly though, it means the idea being transmitted is never outside of the general mindshare. And so we arrive at #Skate4.

When the Skate series unceremoniously ended in 2010, fans wanted a fourth installment. It was a series people loved playing and that people loved watching, weirdly enough. The impossibility of a fourth game in the beloved series broke hearts around the world ranging from your average gamer to your most hardcore fan. It seemed like everyone wanted Skate 4 to be a real thing. So with the knowledge that EA retained the rights to the series, fans took to social media under #Skate4. When it begun, it was the earnest work of fans trying to resuscitate the games they loved. Now though?

Now #Skate4 is more an embodiment of trolling, silly internet behavior meant to elicit an explicit result. Every year just before EA takes the stage, millions of users across a variety of platforms adorn their profiles with #Skate4, almost as a means to harass EA to make the thing come true. Others do it to spite believers into thinking that the game does indeed exist. Every E3, #Skate4 goes viral and trends at least once, and given how we approach news that trends, people flock to the hashtag thinking it’ll happen and are crushed when it hasn’t. Nonetheless though, it means pressure is being applied on EA to actually make Skate 4 all the time and as the hashtag has become more rampant, the fanbase has legitimately grown. So where it might have seemed like everyone wanted Skate 4, now everyone does actually want Skate 4. A cult classic, for lack of a better term has become a sales hit in death, to the point where it was one of the most requested titles for Xbox’s backwards compatibility and EA just turned servers back on for the game prior to their presser, igniting rumors of a follow up.

That’s all pretty big but it’s not even the only meme.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the next game in the incredibly successful crossover fighting series under Nintendo, had its full unveiling at the Nintendo Direct at E3. There, they went into very minute details about the supposed thousands of changes they’ve made to the game. Its biggest draw however, is that it is bringing back every character to ever be playable in the series, making for arguably one of, if not the largest rosters for a fighting game. It seems that they really took the message of everyone to heart though, because in a surprise that delighted literally everyone(I don’t care how untrue that statement definitely is) they made a meme come true. After being hounded by fans for upwards of a decade to introduce Ridley, a monstrously huge space dragon from Metroid who has made appearances in Smash, he is now finally actually playable. He’s glorious and is the only character I’ve ever felt that embraces the actual wackiness of Smash. This in turn prompted a bevy of responses, memes and of course, anime analogs.

Which is all to say, memes fucking rule. Just look at what Fortnite has done to illustrate memes to the general public. They’re emblematic of what the general people want, they’re quickly shareable, they almost exclusively come around in huge numbers, they’re wack and wild which means everything and anything can go viral, and at this point, have proven to be a better means of fan input as far as the games industry. With memes, nothing is no longer “out of sight, out of mind.” Now, everything’s on the table.


Follow all of OK Beast’s E3 2018 coverage here.

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