onies are everywhere. Ever since My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic became popular with adults, the amount of “ponified” content has skyrocketed. A lot of non-fans find this to be annoying, as they complain about ponies being “everywhere”. They are mainly talking about fans crossing over ponies with things that have nothing to do with ponies. But it’s not that bad, is it? It’s easy to ignore… However, something else has awakened along with this pony trend. Although this isn’t nearly as rampant as the ponification, sometimes video game designers will put specific nods to the fandom or the show into their games, even if said game has otherwise nothing to do with ponies. Usually these nods to the show or fandom are so obscure that only people who have watched a lot of the show or are deep into the fandom will even recognize them as such. But when these little nods are brought to the attention of non-fans who happen to enjoy that particular game, they tend to become upset. The question is: Is putting these little “shout-outs”, if you will, to the show and the fandom in games enjoyed by fans and non-fans alike going too far with the pony trend?
Shortest answer: Yes and no. It’s not bad, exactly, as these references to the show will only be recognized by fans in the first place. Non-fans can’t really complain unless they somehow stumble across the information. And even if they do, does it really effect the game that much? A character saying “20% cooler”, one of Rainbow Dash’s signature lines, doesn’t change the gameplay at all. If a non-fan happens to find out what show it’s from, it’s their own fault if they get annoyed at it being included. Video games, especially popular ones, tend to make references to all sorts of franchises. Why should My Little Pony, flavor of the year, be neglected? Nevertheless, there’s another side to this. An article on HorseNews.com pointed out that the reason video game makers do this is simply to remain relevant. It’s not them supporting Bronies, saying they like the show, or anything like that. They just want to make the game even more popular by leaping on the new “it” things. Just like how The Simpsons has started “upgrading”, for lack of a better word, to fit in with the new generation. In nearly every episode, one of the characters uses their own version of an iPad, iPhone, etc. In earlier seasons, the characters used generic flip phones that clearly didn’t belong to any particular brand. It was around the twenty-second season that this changed. In the case of video games, it’s pretty much the same thing.
Bigger question: Should video games stop doing this? Is it just mindless pandering? While it is mindless pandering in a sense, there’s no good reason for them to stop. The references don’t impact how good or bad the game is, especially since a lot of players aren’t going to understand them. And, in a smaller sense, finding these references can be a bit of a treat for certain Bronies. It makes it clear that others, or at least video game designers, acknowledge that they exist without treating them like deplorable outcasts.