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Guacamelee dev: In-game memes 'may have gone too far'

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Guacamelee developer DrinkBox Studios doesn't regret the presence of memes and other references to internet culture in the game, but could probably have handled it better, the company said this week in a postmortem on Gamasutra.

DrinkBox put numerous references to pop culture, internet memes and other games into the side-scrolling action game, and thought nothing of it because the studio's previous titles also contained those elements. In addition, DrinkBox made an effort to integrate the references with Guacamelee's Mexican-themed world. But the studio received a backlash from a "vocal minority," including some people who felt offended, according to DrinkBox co-founder Chris Harvey.

"In retrospect, things may have gone too far," said Harvey, acknowledging that the developers may have focused too much on referencing internet memes as opposed to other games. In addition, he noted, by the time Guacamelee launched this past April, games like Borderlands 2 made the referential approach "seem less fresh." Harvey also pointed out that, despite the initial outcry against the references, "there [remains] a large group of players who appreciate them."

"It probably helped it more than it hurt, but in retrospect we would like to have emphasized the game-references more than the memes, and perhaps scaled the quantity back a bit," said Harvey.

Check out the full postmortem for more on Guacamelee's development, which Harvey characterized as "generally smooth."

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