OSRS memes: “Buying GF” in Old School RuneScape

OSRS Grand exchange, buying gf text, maenmiu logo

Old School RuneScape (OSRS), a nostalgic call-back to the early days of MMORPGs, has not only provided players with memorable gaming experiences but has also given birth to cultural phenomena like the “Buying GF” meme. An exploration into this meme unfolds an intricate web of social behaviour, gaming culture, internet humour, and the impact of virtual economies on player interactions.

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What is a meme?

A meme is an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads within a culture, often through the internet for the purpose of humour or to make a point. The term was first coined by the biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book “The Selfish Gene.” Dawkins used “meme” to describe how cultural information spreads, similar to how genes propagate in a population through natural selection.

In the context of today’s digital world, memes have taken on a more specific meaning. They usually take the form of an image, video, or text, which is then copied and spread rapidly by internet users, often with slight variations. They are shared across social media platforms, emails, blogs, and other digital communication channels. Memes often reflect cultural phenomena, social ideas, or shared experiences, and their content can range from the humorous and absurd to commentary on real-world events, social issues, or trends.

Memes play a significant role in modern internet culture, and their rapid spread can influence public opinion and spark conversations on a broad array of topics. Their impact is such that memes have become a topic of academic study in areas like cultural sociology, social media research, and communication studies.

“Buying GF” Meme Origins

The “Buying GF” phenomenon originated from the classic version of RuneScape, where players, mostly newbies, would offer in-game currency (GP) to “buy” a girlfriend – a stand-in for companionship within the game. It started as a naive expression of desire for camaraderie but soon evolved into a ubiquitous phrase in high-density zones like the Grand Exchange or Varrock Square, becoming a meme long before that term had entered popular usage.

RuneScape is renowned for its intricate player economy and rich social features, which fostered an environment where players often engaged in role-play and extensive interactions. This included not just trading items and forming alliances, but also a range of more light-hearted, playful interactions that were less directly tied to the game’s mechanics.

One such interaction was the idea of ‘buying’ a girlfriend in the game, where predominantly male players would offer in-game currency or items in exchange for another player agreeing to be their ‘girlfriend’. This role typically involved participating in in-game activities together, engaging in dialogue, and sometimes, humorously trying to show off the ‘relationship’ to other players.

This practice was especially prevalent among newer or younger players, who were still discovering the game’s social aspects and navigating its virtual world. The phrase “Buying GF” encapsulated this act of seeking a girlfriend in the game and became a common sight in crowded in-game areas, where players would announce their offer to everyone present.

Role play

It’s important to note that these ‘relationships’ were almost entirely role-play and didn’t usually involve any actual romantic involvement. Instead, they were a form of social interaction that added another layer of engagement to the game. Some players took it seriously, but for many others, it was just a form of amusement and a way to create unique, memorable experiences within the game world.

The “Buying GF” phenomenon eventually became a meme, both within and outside the RuneScape community. This was largely due to its humorous portrayal of naive innocence and the quirky dynamics of online game culture. As with many internet memes, “Buying GF” transcended its original context to become a widely recognizable symbol of online gaming and the internet culture at large, used to mock or satirize the clumsy, awkward attempts of online users seeking companionship or affirmation.

“Buying GF” vs. Other OSRS Memes

When analysing the “Buying GF” meme, it’s crucial to compare and contrast it with other memes in the OSRS universe, such as “Trimming Armor” and “Nice.”

“Trimming Armor”, a meme that originated from a classic scam in the game, showcases the darker side of the gaming community, reflecting how experienced players manipulated the trust of newcomers. Comparatively, “Buying GF” offers a more innocent, albeit naive, facet of the player community, embodying a charming simplicity of the early gaming era.

The “Nice” meme, another widely recognized OSRS meme, is generally used to ironically understate significant achievements. The contrast here lies in the context and use: “Nice” is more reactive and is used to comment on situations, whereas “Buying GF” is proactive and forms a situation itself.

Beyond the Game

The “Buying GF” meme transitioned from a game-specific phrase to a universal symbol for naive and awkward attempts at seeking online companionship. It became a running joke within larger internet culture, appearing on various platforms like Reddit, 4chan, and Twitter. This meme’s influence also extended to real-world objects such as merchandise and signages at gaming conventions, illustrating its impressive cross-domain adaptability.

A Sociocultural Perspective

On a deeper level, the “Buying GF” meme demonstrates how player interactions in virtual environments can reflect and affect socio-cultural behaviors. It exhibits the blurring of lines between reality and virtuality, as the attempt to “buy” companionship in a game with virtual currency mirrors the commodification of relationships in reality. It also raises questions about the value we place on virtual companionships and how our online behaviour mimics or sometimes satirizes our offline social interactions.

Cultural Touchstone?

“Buying GF” has become an enduring cultural touchstone for RuneScape players, continuing to survive and thrive despite the evolution and expansion of the game’s universe. It not only provides a window into the gaming culture of the past but also prompts a broader exploration into the complex social dynamics and economic behaviors within virtual communities. The meme’s persistent relevance underlines its ability to embody a shared sense of nostalgia and humour that resonates with both old and new RuneScape players.

The legacy of the “Buying GF” meme illuminates the fascinating synergy between online gaming, community formation, and meme culture. Its multidimensional impact serves as a compelling case study for understanding the wider phenomena of cultural transmission and evolution in the digital age.

I created this article with the partial assistance of an AI tool. Learn about my view on AI and why I’m telling you about it.

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