Wednesday, July 14, 2010

EXP Podcast #86: Lay Off the Cake

Aperture Science was a meme factory. Years after Portal’s release, we are still quoting the jokes and phrases that helped give the game its unique personality. With the forthcoming release of Portal 2, writer Erik Wolpaw is grappling with the memes spawned by the original. Making cake references might be an easy way to wink at fans, but there is a danger of the game collapsing under the weight of its own baggage. This week, we discuss the unique challenges facing Portal 2 and consider the ways in which memes function in video games and the video game community. We’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments, be they on the subject of cake, cubes, or Keyboard Cats.

Some discussion starters:

- Will it be hard for Portal 2 to distance itself from the baggage of the first game? Would you be disappointed if there were not cake references?

- What are some of your favorite game memes and why? Is there a specific purpose they serve either in or out of the game?

- Is it possible to have gameplay memes?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 25 min 03 sec
- “Portal 2's Wolpaw: 'I Do Not Want To Resurrect A Three-Year-Old Meme',” by Chris Remo, via GameSetWatch
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. "Meme" has basically become a "meme".

    Is a "gameplay meme" just another name for franchise or genre?

    Anyway, Portal2 is in the unthankful position of being "more of the same" with a little extra thrown in for spice. The fact that Glados and the same testing facility are re-used shows a slight creative bankruptcy so my hope is that there is no more cake and that they invent something a little more interesting and sophisticated than the companion cube, otherwise, just re-use it as is and pretend this whole game's an expansion pack on steroids.

  2. Hey Mariospants,

    Totally in agreement about the hazy definition of meme. I'm starting to think that "meme" is actually becoming a cliche.

    I'll be quite interested to see how Portal 2's setting turns out. Like you say, it might be a bad sign that the setting seems to be same lab. However, perhaps it is all an elaborate part of the marketing campaign designed to shock us when we are unexpectedly transported out of the old facility? With Valve, anything is possible.

    Maybe we'll meet the all-new companion SPHERE? Think of the scientific breakthroughs we could achieve with advanced rolling technology! I'm only sort of kidding.