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Video games aren’t funny.

Video games aren’t funny.

I like to laugh. Shocking admission there, I know. I like to laugh, I like to make people laugh and I like to be made to laugh. Watching, listening to and discussing comedy takes up an inordinate amount of my time, and yet video games constantly let me down. The news of Ron Gilbert joining up with Tim Schafer at Double Fine reminded me of this fact.

Where are the truly funny games? There’s a lot of talk along the lines of ‘where is the Citizen Kane of gaming?’, but I want to know ‘where is the Airplane! of gaming?’ Where are the games that make me involuntarily spit my drink out? The experiences that make me laugh so hard it quite literally hurts? Sure, there are examples of ‘funny’ games and developers known for their comic styling, but there still hasn’t been a game produced, to my knowledge, that has been genuinely very funny.

A fall-back response would be the output of Tim Schafer (and Ron Gilbert, but more on him later). One hand in The Secret Of Monkey Island means he’s heralded as a comedy God, but is Monkey Island really that funny? Is it? Go back and play it now, and see how many times you’re made to actually laugh, rather than merely chortle, or smirk. Unless you’re mentally sub-normal, it won’t be many. I’m not saying it’s a bad game – it’s one of my favourites – but even as an eight-year-old it didn’t really make me laugh.

Psychonauts? A great game and one sorely overlooked (then painfully over-referenced in pieces like this), but not a really funny one. Of the games on this list it’s probably the one to have made me laugh the most, but that’s not saying much. Especially if it only made me laugh a couple of times.

Brutal Legend? Jack Black being Jack Black, and the only truly funny thing about it is “DECAPITATIIIOOOOOON!”. Other than that? Stilted Jack Black-isms wrapped up in a game that doesn’t know what it wants to be.

Ron Gilbert’s Deathspank recently appeared on PSN, and it’s another game I’ve been enjoying (along with the quick-release sequel). But laugh? No chance. Both games are home to some of the most painful voice acting I have ever heard in gaming, and any chance the writing had of making me laugh is completely lost in the overblown delivery of some (‘most’) of the talent on the game. Learn what you’re supposed to be saying and how you’re supposed to be saying it, chaps. Otherwise it ends up ruined.

What about other games? Fable 2? Not funny.

Armed And Dangerous? Relies too heavily on Star Wars gags, and is a bit of a crappy game.

There are many more I can’t quite think of right now, but surely that’s a telling fact – if I can’t even think of the game, how can it have made me laugh? It’s something that would have stuck with me forever, but it clearly hasn’t.

I’m not about to analyse how things can be made funnier, or even make any suggestions as to how to remedy it. No, I’m just pointing out that I really don’t think there are any genuinely funny games. Because there aren’t. The re-teaming up of Gilbert and Schafer, if previous records are to go on, means nothing for the improvement of comedy in gaming. They’re unlikely to make the Airplane! of games.




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  • Abe’s Exodus. Tip-toeing past a sleeping Slig en masse, then hitting the wrong button and accidentally starting a punch-up with one of the other Mudokens. I nearly crapped myself.

  • harus

    bard’s tale was funny. absolutely funny… 😀

  • B

    Play Splinter Cell Conviction with a friend on Hunter mode and just listen to the bad guys yell all sorts of things. It makes me laugh every single time and makes me wonder if the developers were joking around when they recorded the voices for these guys.

  • Link01

    You should play Barbs tale… it’s hilarious.

  • Luillo

    Or Little Big Planet with 4 players :D!

  • Taiga!

    Conker`s Bad Fur Day and the Mario & Luigi RPG series

  • Spiderman Shattered Dimensions is a nice funny game

  • Pingback: In Other News – September 28, 2010 | Lazygamer .:: Console and PC Gaming News ::.()

  • Armen Severence

    so you make an article like this without playing grim fandango?

  • valleyshrew

    You never played GTAIV?
    Seriously, GTAIV is the most underappreciated game of all time at least from the internet reception. Compared to the amount mediocre developed games like Portal get talked about, GTA is almost never mentioned for what it is: The greatest single piece of entertainment ever made. It’s the only game that has all these things together, other games only have a fun gameplay gimmick and a few bits of funny dialogue.

    GTAIV has:
    1. An hour of funny tv shows (look up republican space rangers).
    2. Tens of hours of funny radio shows, including funny news updates while you play the game.
    3. Great cultural parodies (adverts, shops, everything in the world)
    4. A deep internet parody that is on it’s own funnier than anything else I’ve ever read and is pretty much the complete cultural parody with incredible depth*.
    5. Hilarious personalities (e.g. yusuf & brucie & tens of others)
    6. Even a damn comedy club with a couple of great stand up shows.

    What other piece of comedy comes remotely close? But other than that I completely agree the games that are considered comedy like Portal, Monkey island or Ratchet and Clank are pathetically unfunny and stupid. The problem with any other open world game is they don’t have any of that stuff gta has, most don’t even have radio stations making them really dull to play, these are the things that bring GTA’s world to life and take it lightyears beyond any other funny game.

    *Just a quick list of all the things that GTAIV parodies:
    cash4gold, alternative medicines, youtube, conspiracy sites, mail order brides, criminal gangs, dating sites, reality tv, celebrity stalking culture, sex tapes, slave trade, restaurants/fast food, sports brands, anorexia, feminism, holidays, steroids, mmorpg’s, diet pills, the ipad, chiropractic, fantasy sports leagues, poker shows, art industry, apple, online banking, car manufacturers, ringtones, protest sites, theme parks, homework helpers, animal cams, fantasy movies, old fashioned anti-technology sites, meat loving, vegetarian, eugenics, mysogynistic, hilarious cartoons, pregnancy sites, range of newspapers, fox news, outsourcing and immigration, lots of different conspiracies, politicians, the snuggie, drugs, photosharing, adoption, prostitution, all sorts of scams/spam, blogs (really in depth character parodies with goths, serial killers, jocks, sluts, etc.), skype, silly instruments, real estate, pornography, alternative medicine, paedophilia, cigarettes, beer, mexican doctors, police, modification of a variety of items (cars/toilets/appliances), radio, cults, farming, robots, gossip, lawyers, clubs, baby names, twitter, myspace, facebook, etc.

  • sudama

    I must say that I had a lot of good laugh with “A bard’s tale’ on the PS2. Even if the gameplay was somewhat flawed.

    If you never played it just give it a try. Even the character creation have moments!

  • Jose

    Grim Fandango.

  • Ben There, Dan That and Time Gentlemen, Please! from Zombie Cow studios are hilarious. Indie titles, so easy to miss without massive piles of marketing.

  • Kroms

    I think either Portal or Hidden and Dangerous should do it for you.

  • Why is this article entirely about you? Every person differs in what they find funny.

  • Kroms

    Scratch Hidden and Dangerous. I meant Giants: Citizen Kabuto.

  • Many games produce humour through gameplay: the unexpected results of some quirky behaviour. There are very few games with funny scripts that deliver humour with deft comic timing.

    One of the few games that has really made me laugh out loud is Try Not To Fart, one of those cheap throwaway games on XBLA. The combination of nail-biting finger-Twister with sudden, severe mistakes, followed by the look of shocked guilt on your character’s face and the swift reprimand he receives from his “hot date” never fails to make me laugh.

  • Lets not forget everything ZombieCow studios have ever made, everything is comedy genius, those guys are leg ends….. Play Privates now, die laughing, don’t and die of ignorance.

  • Stew Hogarth

    I’ve seen people watch Spinal Tap without raising a smile either. What can I say, some people are idiots.

    At the same time, I’ve seen people play Wishi Washie, Singstar… and almost die laughing.

    Different comedy is funny to different people. It’s mad to say that games aren’t funny. Man, four of us were bent double playing New Super Mario just last week!

  • Beast…

    Heavenly Sword had the most genuinely funniest moments I have seen in a video game. Although humour wasn’t its prime objective it did actually make me physically laugh. Even after I had unlocked theater mode I went bact to watch the funny parts again. King Bohan was probably the funniest character throughout, but there were a few other characters in the game who also had me laughing. Heavenly Sword was a really underrated game in my opinion too.

  • Stew Hogarth

    Here is my one-link response which proves that games can be funny…

    I challenge you to film your face on your webcam before clicking the link, then post your reaction while you watch it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOvq3-oG5BM

  • I’d suggest the warioware games. smooth moves and twisted to this day still make me crack up.

  • Ian Dransfield

    Two things: one, I’m surprised by the general friendliness of the majority of commenters here. I’m not used to that.

    Two, there’s something similar to this piece going up tomorrow that may answer some questions you have in your heads. Just before you brand me a humourless berk.

  • Ash

    Bulletstorm, purely for the humor. I wouldn’t could GTA or Saint’s Row just merely because only the violence is funny.