Gaming: No Country for Funny Men

Portal 2

On top of being innovative and addictive from start to finish, one of the things that I loved about Portal was that it was devilishly clever to boot. This didn’t just stop at its gameplay, but carried over to its script, which was genuinely funny. As much as I can’t wait to see more of Aperture and its insane puzzles, one of the things that I’m dying for in Portal 2 is the sidesplitting humor that came from the writers at Valve.

Oddly enough, it’s not that often that we get to play funny games these days. That might sound strange, but it becomes more noticeable when you play games that actually make you laugh. Games like RDR: Undead Nightmare or Secret of Monkey Island. So why aren’t more games funny? One of the great legends of game comedy himself, Tim Schafer, has an idea.

Here’s a quote of his from a recent interview:

There are a lot of funny people in the games industry, and [they seem to] think of the funny thing, and then say: ‘No, I can’t do that. Let’s cut that out because someone might be bothered by that.’

I think if people censored themselves less there’d be a lot more funny stuff out there.

He’s implying that if people only censored themselves less, games would be a lot funnier. While I see what he’s saying, I doubt this is the actual reason that we don’t find more genuine humor in video games. I see very few examples of the game industry censoring itself in such a way. Just look at Black Ops and Grand Theft Auto IV to see that not much gets held back in terms of what may or may not offend gamers.

I think what it comes down to is the level of writing across the board. Like I said before, you don’t always notice quality writing until you play a game that hits it perfectly on the head. Really clever games like Uncharted 2, Mass Effect 2 or Portal cement the impact of awesome characters unleashed by solid writing.

What do you guys think? What are some of the funniest games you’ve played and do you agree with Schafer? Go!

Source – MSN UK

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

8 thoughts on “Gaming: No Country for Funny Men”

  1. While I can appreciate humor from Duke Nukem in its mock-serious ironic tone and Brutal Legend for its “Metalhead in King Arthur’s court” or Ace Attorney’s ‘everything is serious business’ elements, I think what really elicits the best laughs are those moments that come when you least expect it, the ones that come to mind are Rockstar’s GTA4’s Onion-esque satire that’ll come out at you in the middle of Niko negotiating a job or just cruising around while listening to the radio or those rare funny moments in RDR, whether its just an ironic callback or somebody making a last ditch comment before the bullets start flying.

    I mean, then on the other end of the spectrum, you have Bulletstorm, which I find just sort of painfully juvenile.

  2. I really enjoyed a lot of ME2’s writing. My favorite two where when Mordin breaks into song, and when you randomly encounter the Sergeant drilling his gunners on the Citadel.
    ” That means Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest son of a bitch in space!” is one of my favorite quotes of all time

  3. Bioware definitely have a grest sense of humour. Alistair was my favourite character in Origins. Also, the fact that they made a t-shirt saying “Morrigan disapproves -15” shows they can have fun with a great meme of their own creation. ME2 also has a bunch of great characters (I challenge you to NOT laugh at Mordin singing) and both it and Origins have really great dialogue with those natural-to-conversation jokes which make it seem so real. Uncharted also has those.
    Also, Clap trap.

  4. Jack, I feel the exact same was as you about the humor in Bulletstorm, and almost called out that game specifically in my post. If that’s the example of game devs not censoring themselves, then I frankly don’t want to see more of that.

    And I agree Skuba, Bioware’s games have some great examples of humor.

  5. I think that Portal was just the right environment for the kind of humor it used. There’s a reason action movies starring The Rock or Nicholas Cage that try to be funny here and there usually suck so bad.

    What I do like though, is when a serious game has ridiculous easter eggs. That’s always a plus.

  6. “He’s implying that if people only censored themselves less, games would be a lot funnier.”

    He didn’t imply it, he said it!

    But I think you may be right in saying that’s not even half the story.

  7. Borderlands has some very funny writing. It’s part innuendo, part slapstick, and part tongue-in-cheek. It was probably one of the things that propelled the game above the usual crop of shooters. If only there were more spoken lines and more liveliness in the characters.

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