We Need More Funny Video Games

Comedy is one of the toughest things to get right. A lot of what makes humour connect is delivery and timing, whether it be an energetic setup to a deadpan punchline or an awkward silence left to linger in a movie scene.

Games have plenty of throwaway jokes, which do shine in games such as Uncharted, but they rarely lean into the humour the way I wish they would. Games where the humour is a defining feature, such as Portal or The Stanley Parable, are too few and far between.

So I sat down this week with Kotaku staff writer Joshua Rivera to discuss why we think games struggle to get that hilarious flavour right. We also discuss some indie games that are taking giant steps in the right direction.


Comments

    Funniest game I ever played?

    Armed & Dangerous. I encourage everyone who sees this to go find it!

    Funny games in this current climate?

    Yeah no.

    Youll end up offended someone who will want the game removed and the devs life ruined just coz.

    Case in point Ion Fury.

      The controversy around Ion Fury was because some of the devs made a bunch of transphobic and sexist comments on their Discord. The game itself had nothing to do with it, unless I've missed something other than the above.

        The devs made no such comments.

        Stop believing resetera.

          He is a poster boy for that place. So good luck with that.

            We've been good since the last exchange, don't ruin it now.

              Considering you claimed i started a dummy account just to downvote you.
              No, No were not.

                I didn't claim it was you. I know who it was, that's why I replied to my own comment and not yours.

                  @m2d2 That name was one of a group of five or six sock accounts used to manipulate votes a while back by someone who took personal umbrage at the fact I consider hunting unethical except for a few limited reasons like population control. The staff can map socking by the IP data and registration email, they'll look after it.

                  They started dummy accounts over an opinion on....hunting?
                  I think some people take kotaku far too seriously.

          They did, and the comments were verified by multiple games media. I don't read Resetera.

            They aren't

            I'll end the discussion here because it's off topic.

              I just went and verified them myself. Head over and look for yourself, it's on the 3D Realms public Discord. Only two of the comments have been deleted, the others are still there, and the surrounding comments for the ones that are deleted is still there.

              Image 1
              Image 2
              Image 3 (original version with deleted messages still present here).

              Are you still going to deny this?

                One I missed also, Image 5.

                  They aren't

                  I'll end the discussion here because it's off topic.

                  My point still stands.

                  @djbear You raised it as an example of how devs can't make funny games, it seems on topic to me. I don't mind leaving it here if you want, but denying and downvoting me for simply stating something factual you can verify yourself is not cool, mate.

          For someone who hates Resetera so much you seem to a) be up to date with all their coverage and b) love mentioning them here a lot. The only time I recall hearing their name or opinions are when you mention them.

              To be clear, I wasn't asking for more Resetera related content. Though this furthers my observation that you seem to bring them up just to complain about them when no one here seems to stand in support of them. It's like you're launching Resetera clay pigeons just to have fun taking pot shots.

                A lot of the Kotaku US Authors are registered users and contributors of the forum.

                And a lot of previous articles have come about because of reeeeeeing on the forums of the most moronic things.

                Kotaku Australia thankfully doesnt. But the US branch sure does. People on here might not directly support them. But they sure do love the faux outrage generated on that forum. A lot of recent faux moral outrages over supposed slights have all originated back on the forum.

                Resetera is far left version of Kiwifarms.

                  No, I get that, and I get what you don't like about it. It sounds like they can be a bit intense. It just seems like you sometimes mention them just for the sake of complaining about them, when no one else is referencing or mentioning them, so it comes across as you just having sour grapes about their community and looking for any chance to say how terrible they are.

                  I mean, comment what you like, I don't want to tone police you, or tell you what you should and shouldn't say, it just seems like you are a bit preoccupied with them at times.

        okay djbear is wrong they made the comments on discord right but the larger point hes making is that people are saying the game is funny yet the people who made it are being harassed by SJW's, i don't care what they said if the game is good i'll buy it because you only get one life and other peoples feelings take a back seat to me enjoying myself before i drop dead.

        I haven't looked at the game yet i have been busy and classic is coming but lets assume i am one of the people that find it funny, how is it even remotely okay that a bunch of other people try and decide for me that i am not allowed to play it. These people are trying to have the game yeeted and they are trying to have the devs fired it is way worse than anything said on discord.

          If you want to buy and play the game, no problem. If you have no difficulty separating the art from the artist in this case, no problem. If what they said does bother you and you don't want to buy it, that's no problem too. I can't watch Kevin Spacey any more after all the shit about him came out, but I don't judge if other people want to watch him.

          If there are people trying to decide for you what you're allowed to play, they're outliers. Most people just want to make sure people know before you make up your own mind. That seems fair to me.

          I don't have any opinion on the game, I've never played it. I'm just saying the criticism the devs got wasn't because of the game, and it wasn't for no reason, it was because of things they said.

            Sorry for taking this off-topic again but those the legal cases against Kevin spacey have been dropped by both the person who accused him and the prosecutors.

            The person who accused him has very loose with the truth and refused to present any evidence backing up his claims and invoking the fifth amendment so he didn't have to hand over his phone records.

            https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-18/massachusetts-prosecutors-drop-kevin-spacey-sex-assault-case/11320896

              Sorry for the late reply, I was sick yesterday. That was the 2016 groping accusation, yeah. Only two have been dropped by investigators, the 2016 one and the 1992 Hollywood one that was dropped because of the statute of limitations.

              More than thirty people have made allegations against him though, including three that happened in 2008 from a barman, an actor, and Richard Dreyfuss' son; a 2007 one from the Norwegian king's son in law; a 2005 London one; twenty individual allegations from his 11 years as artistic director at the Old Vic Theatre; some from the House of Cards set; and of course Anthony Rapp's original allegation from 1986.

              I don't know if he'd be found legally guilty of any or all of those, but I do know that's a lot of smoke to have without fire, and with Spacey acknowledging some of them and entering treatment for sex addiction I'm just not personally comfortable watching his stuff any more. And that really sucks, because he was one of my favourite actors before all this shit came out.

            i wouldn't compare transphobic comments and sexual assault, to me these two things are worlds apart.

            i realise you aren't trying to yeet the game or sack the devs or anythig like that i actually meant to put that in the comment but it's not there, but half the controversy is the transphobic comments and shit on discord the other half is people trying to have the game yeeted and the devs fired i am well aware they are small in number but that who cares tiny groups of very loud butthurt people have succeeded pretty well on getting others into hot water in the last few years.

            Look at Carlos Maza and steven crowder from what a month ago now? Carlos is mad because crowder makes fun of him calls it harassment, pride month just happens to be happening at the same time he notices this, so he proceeds to form a mob and go after crowder. Youtube sticks with crowder initially then backflips after the pressure builds and advertisers start getting nervous i have no horse in this race but if crowder is supposedly guilty of harassment then fuck me Carlos definitely is also. Yet only one of them was punished.

            you say the criticism wasn't about the game and it was deserved, i agree the problem is that the game was targeted and criticising the devs is fine but trying to get them fired and blacklisted is not. I don't think we really disagree on this as far as i can tell the only difference we have is i don't think comments on discord are the same as sexual assault (truth of the accusations and state of the case to be disregarded for the sake of the argument plz) and that you don't think the extreme minority going apeshit in this case are anything to worry about where as i do.

      Didn't happen to Borderlands 2.

    Day of the Tentacle. The pinnacle of comedy in gaming. It's been all downhill since then.

      I was more into the Sierra games myself. The Quest for Glory and Space Quest series both had great humour (of different kinds).

    Do we need more funny games? Hellyeah!
    Do we need more unsuccessful attempts at funny games? uh... *sweats nervously*

      mostly i'm either on board with you or indifferent but are you gatekeeping funny games here?

      Your subjective interpretation of whether a game is funny or not is meaningless, half the reason devs are afraid to try and make funny games is the outrage machine and whether or not they piss off a terribly obnoxious minority and lose 2 months of potential happiness while twitter and resetera go full retard. I don't know what games you had in mind when you made this post but some people may have found it funny and enjoyed it. I thought the Doom Eternal game trailer thingy that set the SJW's off when they made the demons as immigrants memes very funny, i thought it was very clever. clearly many people shit their panties over it.

      perspectives are different do you really think that you not finding a game amusing is cause for people who would to miss out. What if you favourite funny game makes me cringe can i have it yeeted into the sun?

        You’re saying that like games need to court controversy to be funny. Some of the funniest games I can think of aren’t at all controversial in their content. To me some of the funniest games have been thematically funny and inoffensive like The Stanley Parable, Portal 2, Undertale, and Sam & Max Hit The Road. Games can also be functionally funny and inoffensive like Overcooked, Human Fall Flat, Surgeon Simulator, QWOP etc. Of course there are games that are funny in controversial ways like GTA, Stick of Truth, Trover Saves The Universe, Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Point is, comedy comes in many forms so to say that developers are scared of making funny games because people are too sensitive is maybe not untrue for some types of humour but it’s certainly not the whole story.

          You’re saying that like games need to court controversy to be funny.
          um no Cathy Newman that is not what i was saying, i was just. nvm i'm not going through it all again.

          additional information for you in response to your post, no i do not think games have to be controversial to be funny that is incredibly silly nobody thinks that, like legit nobody.

          developers are scared of making funny games because people are too sensitive is maybe not untrue for some types of humour but it’s certainly not the whole story.

          Big true my dude, in future maybe consider if someone is in fact just talking about part of a whole, particularly when it is a reply to another statement. My views on the comedy gatekeeping happening right now in all media where comedy exists doesn't need to also talk about all the games or movies or whatever that do not count because they are outside the issue of gatekeeping.

          so your saying that because games can be made that are funny but aren't controversial, any games that are controversial should be banned?

          i don't actually believe you think that btw i'm just being an ass.

            Your subjective interpretation of whether a game is funny or not is meaningless, half the reason devs are afraid to try and make funny games is the outrage machine and whether or not they piss off a terribly obnoxious minority and lose 2 months of potential happiness while twitter and resetera go full retard.

            This was the bit I was referring to. But yeah, fair go, you did say “half the reason” so I’ll cop to misrepresenting your argument. You almost had me at your second last paragraph lol.

        (Just FYI, now that this page isn't as busy: My comment was a joke. The irony of it offending someone is... perfect.) :D

          i wasn't offended by it i completely missed it being a joke though so that's embarrassing.

    Considering how badly people understand context these days, funny games will be few and far between, especially when most of the people who say "but we have these games" tend to be indie darlings.

      I don’t think this was your point, but it made me consider this as interesting regardless: I wonder if it’s harder for bigger studios to do correctly. Humour is so subjective and often defies formula and, when you have massive teams collaborating and compromising back and forth spread across the world, it’s harder to drill down to the essence of funny, and sometimes it can get lost in the process.

      Maybe smaller indie studios with a more auteur-focus would be able to be more interesting and focused with humour. It might not be a humour to everyone’s liking, but it avoids the humour-by-committee approach of the triple A world.

        Bigger the studio, the bigger the lens the game will have on it and much easier for someone to pick apart the humour on show, especially when as you alluded to, the humour that will be on display from AAA will be either be satire, or low brow, then when too many people are shouting X or Y cant be joked about, the window is so small that its best to not bother, or have it (humour) be the icing on a different type(genre) of cake.

          Yeah, I think you’re right when you’d say we see more games with humour sprinkled on them without being a comedy game because it constitutes less risk. The difference between Conkers BFD (what I would consider a triple A game that put comedy front and centre) compared to something current-ish like Titanfall 2 (a FPS first and foremost, which some nice humour in there for relief).

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