In Team Fortress 2, the characters each have a number of sound bytes. With each new unlockable or character update, there are generally new sound bytes added.
For the Heavy, his first unlockable was the Sandvich in September of 2008.
And Valve made a video to promote it:
Knowing that gamers like memes, Valve’s writers chose to make the Heavy go OM NOM NOM when he heats his Sadvich. And when the players saw this, they lol’d.
And people created tribute videos to the Sandwhich, but it was mostly all just part of the existing OM NOM NOM meme.
Now, as part of the release, the Scout got a new “Domination” sound byte, in which he says, “I eat your sandwich. I eat it up” which is a new instance of the “I drink your Milkshake” meme.
But within Garry’s Mod, this spawned a submeme of the Scout saying “I eat your X” where X is any other noun within the Scout’s built-in sound library; quite often is “pancakes.”
So the TF2 developers referenced both OM NOM NOM and “I drink your Milkshake” in the dialog added to the game when they created the Sadvich.
- TF2 OM NOM NOM videos aren’t a meme, they’re just instances of the existing OM NOM NOM meme.
“I eat your Sandwhich” videos aren’t a meme because they simply repeat the joke that the TF2 developers wrote.
“Scout eats your X” videos ARE a meme because the formula follows a participatory “fill in the blank” style.
As for Bonk: there was a similar hype around the Scout’s first unlockable; the Sandman.
When the Scout hit’s someone with his baseball, he yells Bonk! This was advertised on the Valve website upon announcement of the release.
So it is obvious that Bonk is something that players would latch onto.
But Bonk has been remixed in so many ways it’s ridiculous. There is a huge mass of Bonk/Boik videos, but its hard to tell if its a meme because the format is so simple that it’s nearly impossible to notice trends or deviations from those trends when all you have to go off of is Bonk.
Despite the Youtube videos, Overall TF2 has done nothing to impact interest in Bonk or Boink in Google searches.
So what is there to say about the phenomenon? What is there to write about it?
The Scout says Boink when he uses his Sandman bat and ball. Fans of TF2 created remixes of the Boink sound clip. The end?
There’s a safe bet that for each unlockable, there will be content written into the game that the players will latch onto and create videos of; but how much original content or to what degree must something be remixed before it’s a meme?
I mean, couldn’t “Need a dispenser here” be considered a meme just because it’s spammed constantly during gameplay? And doesn’t the idea that these fads are incited by the game developers make them less organic than other memes?
This is an open discussion.