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DiscussionMay 12, 2022 8:00 am CT

What’s your favorite in-game parody or reference to real life?

Video games are full of real-life references — some of them are more overt, like WoW’s Floyd Pinkus, while others are a little less obvious, like a license plate on a car or a background piece of artwork that reference something a little more niche. The screenshot above comes from Overwatch 2’s Midtown Map, and it’s a bit in the middle in terms of overtness. “OwO” and “UwU” are relatively well-known online — though not ubiquitous — and finding this little bit of laundry detergent requires going out of your way to pay attention to small details in a fast-paced, team-based shooter that also demands your attention.

But while UwU may not be quite as well-known as Pink Floyd, I think I still prefer the more subtle approach to the more overt. It can sometimes be hard to find the right balance when it comes to references, and if they’re too obvious, it actually takes me out of the game. Then again, part of that also depends on how involved the reference is.

Some games will turn an entire city or setting into a parody, like Grand Theft Auto often does — in this case, the fact that I’m playing in such a large location doesn’t take me out of the game so much as make me want to explore it further. (Maybe it’s cheating a bit, though, since creating a whole city as a reference inherently involves sub-references in the buildings and businesses throughout.)

At the end of the day, I don’t know if I actually have a favorite. I know roughly what types of references I like — less overt, not a one-off that stand out too much — but it’s sort of a “case by case” thing for me. That’s why I turn to you, now!

Do you have a favorite in-game parody or reference that stands out? Anything you wish more people knew about? And when it comes to said references, do you have a preference for how they’re implemented?

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