Man vs Meme (For Great Justice!)

Alright, so I’m guessing most of you are wondering just what the hell that video was about and why am I showing it you…..don’t worry, on some level I myself am wondering the same thing.


We are not here to question, or at least, I’m not. No! I am here to make clear the unclear, give sense to the senseless and generally just make the weirdness of the internet a little less weird!

So getting back to on point, the video above I so shamelessly exposed you all to is the introduction to a 1989 Japanese arcade game called “Zero Wing” that would eventually be ported, with questionable translations, to North America in the early 90’s. Of course, it would not be until 1999 (after people actually had access to the internet) that the game, or rather, the games introduction dialogue would go viral and be immortalized in the annexes of the internet forever. With some of its more ridiculous quotes going on to become extremely popular memes:


or hell….why not let this professional lab-coat clad gentleman explain?

Well, with that out of the way I guess I finally tackle just what an internet meme is huh? Well, to keep things simple (since there isn’t really a complicated way of explaining it) an internet meme is an “idea” (picture, video, quote, etc) that finds some kind of traction in a community on the internet where users then propagate it by submitting it to other users in “generally” unique or funny ways. This entire process can take anywhere from days to hours to occur, and it is not uncommon for some of the more popular memes, such as: lolcatz, demotivational posters or advice animals, to meteorically rise to the forefront of the internet almost instantly.

Memes have also come to play a fairly significant role in defining internet culture, with many of the the more popular one’s evolving (I use the word evolving here because the entire process of a meme catching fire and growing in popularity is generally a very organic process with the original poster/OP likely never intending for their submission to take on a life of its own) to fit into relevant or pressing issues affecting the community.

 In fact, memes have also evolved into a means for normal everyday netizens to express their personal feelings through images, generally in the form of: advice animals, demotivational posters or rage comics.

Internet memes have also had affects on peoples’ lives outside of the internet, with a couple examples being Scumbag Steve, College Freshman or the more recent Ridiculously Photogenic Guy:

All of whom have become aware of their online fame to some extent and have had their lives changed for it.

Now, I realize that my explanations may have left some confused and others wishing they had never read this post at all, but I felt that is are to stand any chance at surviving on the internet we should probably learn about the culture, and memes are the back bone of it.

If however, on the off-chance that you did find this post interesting and would like to dig deeper into the bizarre phenomenon that is the “internet meme” I would like to point you towards . A site chalk full of all the wonderful information about the internet you were probably better off not knowing.

And with that I conclude my second post, but leave you one of my personal favorite memes right now:

That will be 100 Gold Peices Please …. Or $10 USD

As this is my first post, I feel I should warn you all that I am not a very interesting man.

So when Marty told us to come up with blogs about interesting topics we were familiar with…well lets just say I didn’t have the easiest of times coming up with anything in particular.

Thus, in a desperate attempt to come up with something to blog about, I decided to write about online culture, so if anyone has ever wondered what memes, trolls, e-sports and many other weird internet terms/phenomena are all about, you have come to the right place.

Now, with introductions out of the way, I figure I should probably get back to the main topic of this post, which if you hadn’t guessed by the absurd title of this pose, will be all about the absurd nature of virtual currencies.

Now, a virtual currency acts exactly like real life currency in that it is used as a means to buy and sell goods, however, unlike real life currencies which works pretty much anywhere, digital currencies only work within their own digital worlds and possess no real buying power outside of their virtual environments. Or at least, that’s how it used to work until the introduction of the internet and more specifically, online games, which sparked the beginning of a strange and controversial movement, wherein virtual currencies began to acquire real life dollar values.

Now, I realize this likely all sounds pretty lame or pointless so far, but unfortunately, much like real economics, virtual economics suffers from the curse of being ridiculously boring. However, many of the transactions themselves do prive to be significantly more interesting.

Take for example the case of Erik Novak (aka Buzz Erik Lightyear as he is known to his peers online). Mr. Novak was an avid and dedicated player of the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) Entropia Universe, and proud owner of Planet Calypso.

Now before I go any further, Entropia has taken a fairly unique approach to their virtual economy in that players can make real money transactions in order to by in game currency, also known as PED (Project Entropia Dollars), as well as withdraw PED for real life funds at a 10:1 ratio, meaning that everything in the game has a real-life dollar value.

So, with this information regarding Entropia’s economy in mind, we return to the case of Mr. Novak who won the planet Calypso in an online auction. Now normally, someone winning an auction in a video game garners little to no attention, as it is one of the most popular ways to make online transactions. However, Mr. Novak is a special case, in that he spent $330,000.00 USD to win the rights to the planet.

Yes, I do mean three-hundred and thirty thousand US dollars.

To most of you, I imagine this seems like an absurd amount of money for what really amounts to nothing more than some fancy pixels on the internet, and I would be inclined to agree with this sentiment. However, the case of Mr. Novak, though fairly extreme, is not as uncommon as you probably think.

While the practice of digital currency aquiring real-life value has generally been confined to the realm of more traditional online games, markets dealing in real and virtual currencies have also been rising in more social environments as well. Think, Neopets or Habo Hotel.

Slowly but surely, the practice of tying real life currency to digital currency is becoming more prevalent.

(I should probably mention here that unlike Entropia Universe, most games do not have a legitimate means to convert digital currency into real dollars, and thus spawn vast unregulated black market enterprises to facilitate these transactions)

In fact, the practice has become so big that many developers have given up trying to combat this issue and are instead pursuing different means of cashing in on it. Such is the case of Blizzard Entertainment, developers of the: Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo franchises, who recently created a new currency called Blizzard Bucks, which will essentially act as a medium for players to exchange real money for in game currency in their newest release of Diablo.

So what does this all mean?

Well to most, probably nothing.

But to a growing segment of users, it means that they can potentially make a living playing virtual markets for real life dollars.

I can’t help but wonder, where exactly this movement will lead, and to what extent this emerging market may develop.

While it may seem ridiculous and borderline absurd, I can’t help but wonder if one day I’ll be able to go to the mall and instead of paying in dollars and cents, I could potentially pay in digital dabloons or gold pieces?