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A primordial soup of exploding trends and memes: TikTok’s wild world of video games – The Guardian

Video games

Gaming culture has lived online since the internet became a thing, so it is no surprise that TikTok is now a primordial soup of video game memes. The time-honoured “greatest games of all time” magazine feature lives on as clip compilations soundtracked by thrice-remixed SoundCloud rap. Streamers post highlights from their live play, from unlikely kills to spectacular rage-quit explosions. Kids post skits that make fun of their parents’ dismissive attitude to games. Cosplayers dress up as game characters and jump on the latest dance craze. Trends explode for a week then disappear, like that month in 2020 when teenagers were posting clips of themselves studying to Mario Kart music.

Gaming is totally native to the under-21s who power most of TikTok’s content, so music, sound effects and in-jokes from video games permeate pretty much everything. Beware, though, because TikTok’s audience is so extremely young, if you’ve been playing games for longer than about 10 years, browsing will make you feel like Methuselah. I saw one compilation of “old video games that are still fun today” composed entirely of things that came out when I was in my 20s.

There are some exceptionally bad opinions expressed in this ever-evolving morass of short videos, and a distressing number of entries in the disappointingly sexist “girlfriend tries to distract boyfriend from playing his video games” genre, but there’s good stuff too: Shelbyrenaeyt, a 24-year-old Fortnite streamer, posts painfully amusing (or just straight-up painful) clips of all the pubescent boys she encounters in-game trying and failing to trash-talk her.

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There are also plenty of impossibly wealthy kids and pro-gamers showing off their ostentatious gaming set-ups, featuring a million LEDs and spinning fans. One account, Ingrem GamingTech, is a darkly fascinating series of clips from what looks like a primary-coloured frat house where people design zero-gravity gaming stations. Cozy Games subverts all this with her pastel coloured, calming, beautifully thought-through games room, where she mostly plays gentle, atmospheric stuff (like Lake, a game in which you deliver the post in a picturesque town).

Seemingly any game can briefly thrive on TikTok. Although most of what you’ll see revolves around the mainstays of teen gaming culture – shooters such as Overwatch and Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto Online, Fifa, Roblox – more esoteric games also surface. For a short time, there were hundreds of remix videos of an anime music game called Muse Dash, and space skullduggery assassination game Among Us owes a lot of its meteoric success to the millions of clips, skits and bizarre reimaginings that appeared on TikTok.

Watching the most popular content on the gaming hashtag, I found myself caught in a tedious sequence of GTA clips, videos of ostentatious PC builds and mean-spirited piss-takes. But once you make it out of the basic list compilations and eyeroll adolescent “humour”, TikTok is a tribute to the immense energy and imagination of young video game fans.

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A favourite genre: the #videogamesinreallife trend, which involves people walking around the real world with the halting motion of an 00s game character, pastiching the stilted animations and canned dialogue from the games they grew up with. (Depressingly for anyone over 30, those games are things like Minecraft or the 10-year-old fantasy RPG Skyrim, but still.) It’s also a window into the process of making games, as young indie developers post clips and commentary on what they’re making.

It’s heartening to see the relative diversity of TikTok’s gaming scene, too, compared with the almost exclusively white male online gaming community that I came of age in. If there were any doubt that games really are played by everyone now, this is the proof.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/games/2021/nov/12/primordial-soup-exploding-trends-memes-tiktok-video-games

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