220: A Comedy of Errors

A Comedy of Errors

It's taken a while for videogames to become a vehicle for developers to express their sense of humor. But games have been unintentionally funny for as long as they've existed. Brett Staebell examines the humor inherent in poor translations, awful voice acting and good old-fashioned bugs.

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Oh man, My buddies and I have always found many things in the games we play hilarious. Alot of the times, it rooted to our own experiences or we simply add something to the game that just makes it funny to us. Sometimes the greatest comedy are unintentional ones; your article encompassed that idea well. Also that Goldeneye video was priceless.

Humour is wierd - apparently, most things we laugh at aren't actually funny.

Like watching someone fall over - you don't think of the pain he'll have to go through afterwards, it's spur of the moment stuff - break a joke down, and it is killed.

Also, you can do hilarious things in the SSB series, but as you said, it's not intentional, and sometimes you laugh at things because they're so unbelievable/awesome.

Finally, in my essay of a comment, Portal is subtle humour - games can't be over-enthusiastic about these things, or they are ruined (like that game I saw a while back on these forums which was basically full of innuendo).

For a mate of mine running around in a circle in metal gear 1/2/3 is the height of humor. I think it's the way he looks so determined...

Multi player has always been the height of humor in video games. Playing the original Team Fortress at Lan parties made humourous kills a vital game mechanic.

I think it's interesting how you didn't mention things like Gary's mod or even Red versus Blue as a way for gamers to create humour out of video games.

Or maybe thats next week

One game that was a really funny game was Stubbs the Zombie. Not only was it a fun little game where the player is the zombie, but the game had some wonderful moments.

For example: Chief Masters and Stubbs squaring off.
Stubbs falling for Maggie Monday.
The parody of General Patton's speech in front of 'Ol Glory.
Andrew Monday's "You destroyed my town, ate my mother..." speech.
Otis Monday's quotes.
The snooty police officers.
The pedestrians outbursts as Stubbs chows down on them.

It all adds up to a funny game - and what's more, it's also a good game. In conclusion, I think it is indeed possible to have a good comedy game.

Funniest/strangest error I've ever gotten in a game...
playing the original Halo, just after landing in the escape pod, I got the joy of watching a Banshee ram into a tree, have it's pilot go shooting out of the front, and the Banshee itself fall to the ground as a usable vehicle. I rather enjoyed flying around a level that wasn't supposed to have flight and seeing where the actual level borders were.

Humor can be great in a game but only if it comes easily. You can't sacrifice fun for funny. Some games try too hard and then the joke ends up being on the person who bought the title.

That's the way I felt when I got No More Heroes. Yes it was a very humorous game (one of it's few virtues) but often time (while playing mingames usually) I felt like the joke was on me.

SirBryghtside:
Humour is wierd - apparently, most things we laugh at aren't actually funny.

Like watching someone fall over - you don't think of the pain he'll have to go through afterwards, it's spur of the moment stuff - break a joke down, and it is killed.

This is what makes the weird bugs and bad dialogue funny. You see a mistake and you laugh because someone messed up.

I find it funny at just what the gaming/omline community will find hilarious because it's rarely something that was inserted purposefully. Also, has any other recent game spawned a meme as popular as Portal's cake?

Well, people find all things funny, most of all when they happen to other people. And heros in computer games have a myriad ways to meet their doom or suffer deep discomfort. We find it funny because it's not us.

So, yes, we can laugh at computer games because that's how the human psyche can be. But that's pretty much the way we laugh at bad movies, or bad theatre, or bad song...

that's odd Im seeing comedy of errors tomorrow

I had actually not seen the 007 Get Down thing before. It had me in tears, especially the plane.

I'd never known about the goldeneye thing until now, but it was the one of the most hilarious thing I've seen in a while. I've known that cartridges go wack if moved, but never knew that they all went spazzy and made planes attempt to be Taz

Battletoads. I Remember going into fits of hilarity every time one of the toad's foot or hands would enlarge after a combo. Every time I played this game with my friend, I would almost immediately start fighting him. Too bad I never won any of the fights because I was paralysed with laughter with the antics of the Battletoads.

I still get occassionally reminded by staff of one mining multi-national that my software used the 'Lost in Space' robot's voice ("danger! danger!) when a critical fault was detected, possibly resulting in one of the worlds longest and heaviest trains derailing.

Lets say the reviews were mixed...

Dwarf Fortress is comedy gold, even in ASCII. Many of the hilarious moments aren't scripted but are actually created by the game's many systems interacting with each other. Toady's development diary alone has some absolutely belting bugs that are guaranteed to raise a smile. Check out Boatmurdered, you won't be disappointed.

Bugs are sort of a lost art to games, as well as game breaking mechanics. Yesterday my friends and I had a bit of a laugh during a game of Rainbow Six Vegas when I walked up to a wall and promptly died. I didn't even fall through, I died. It's not just what happens, but the reaction as well.

Overall, humor from glitches is sort of becoming a lost art. I'd love to see a game that is intended to be a sort of self-aware parody in the manner of SpaceBalls or other Mel Brooks films. I know there are some out there, but they are typically sophomoric in style and appeal to an unsophisticated "I'm in College and drink BEER!" mentality. They're basically video game versions of all these "Not another shit movie" coming out. I want a game where the big bad evil emperor is actually living in his mom's castle, and the heroes escape the dungeon by exploiting the glitch that drops them through the level and respawns them back at their base.

The closest to that I can recall playing is Gex: Enter the Gecko, a platformer I'd love to see revived properly. Overall it was more a big joke on television than video games (but tell me you wouldn't love to see a game spoofing Left 4 Dead, Super Mario, Halo and God of War all in one level).

There are entire sites dedicated to this kind of thing. A personal favorite is the video games section of:

http://www.engrish.com/

There have also been a number of games that were self-aware parodies (to answer one of the responders). A personal favorite is one of Naughty Dog's very first games called "Keef The Thief" which I have been hoping they would do a remake of.

My personal favourite is from the House of the Dead 2 on the Dreamcast.

The woman who keeps saying "Don't come" while sounding highly aroused.

There were plenty of responses along the lines of "I hear that a lot".

Funny voice acting is even funnier in co-op as it's a shared experience.

ccesarano:
Bugs are sort of a lost art to games, as well as game breaking mechanics. Yesterday my friends and I had a bit of a laugh during a game of Rainbow Six Vegas when I walked up to a wall and promptly died. I didn't even fall through, I died. It's not just what happens, but the reaction as well.

Overall, humor from glitches is sort of becoming a lost art. I'd love to see a game that is intended to be a sort of self-aware parody in the manner of SpaceBalls or other Mel Brooks films. I know there are some out there, but they are typically sophomoric in style and appeal to an unsophisticated "I'm in College and drink BEER!" mentality. They're basically video game versions of all these "Not another shit movie" coming out. I want a game where the big bad evil emperor is actually living in his mom's castle, and the heroes escape the dungeon by exploiting the glitch that drops them through the level and respawns them back at their base.

The closest to that I can recall playing is Gex: Enter the Gecko, a platformer I'd love to see revived properly. Overall it was more a big joke on television than video games (but tell me you wouldn't love to see a game spoofing Left 4 Dead, Super Mario, Halo and God of War all in one level).

Gotta agree with you that the humor of bugs is a fading element in gaming. It becomes more apparent when you notice my most recent example is James Bond. Really, one NEEDED humor to deal with some of the shenanigans of programming past.

There are still plenty of funny bugs, but gaming has become so diverse that it's hard to pick any single one that would have as much broad appeal as the "classics." For recent examples just type "gaming glitch" into youtube. There are some Madden glitches that are no doubt a result of the one-year cycle of the games, but that doesn't make them any less hilarious.

As for breaking the fourth wall, I also would like to see a game that plays more humorously with the fact that it's a game. Eternal Darkness proved how effective that technique could be, now somebody just has to harness the idea for humor.

The Spoony bard line was a mistranslation, not censorship

Also did no one play Conker's Bad Fur Day?, pure art and hilarity

I find humor to be best when it is completely unintentional. Such as shooting someone in a game and sending the ragdoll spiraling through the air only to get stuck on the wall. GTA4 had me chuckling quite a bit at the way npcs rolled lazily over the car when hit.

Also, thank you. I will NEVER be able to get that song out of my head now.

Blanks:
The Spoony bard line was a mistranslation, not censorship

Also did no one play Conker's Bad Fur Day?, pure art and hilarity

It's really not so much a mistranslation as it is a localization choice brought on by censorship.

http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=663760

The original Japanese would more literally be interpreted as "you son of a bitch!" or something along those lines, but Nintendo circa 1991 - and even now - gets a little squeamish with risque language in its big games. Spoony is admittedly a HELLUVA stretch, but if you go by the dictionary definition it's actually pretty appropriate for Edward, however outdated/unknown.

And Conker's Bad Fur Day is one of those games that I've always wanted to play, but never managed to sneak it into my schedule. It's given a pretty epic status by my friends who have played it, but something tells me odds are slim it'll make the leap to the Virtual Console. Here's hoping!

I have to agree that it's almost a shame that bugs are a thing of the past, though you often still find a few that go so horribly wrong that the entire scene is hilariously unexpected. Take for example the 3D "falling into the void" glitch of falling through the floor - you often find that if this happens you end up splattering against something eventually, either because of a loop from floor to ceiling or a bottom of the game memory. Some games such as Saints Row 2 are innately buggy; likely due to a flawed or unreliable engine. This seems to add to the charm of the game though, and not many people seem to hold it against the game when their vehicle suddenly disappears and they're left hurtling around the city sitting on air and waggling their arms around in a freak contorted mime.

I do disagree that games are losing their humour though. I know a good number of fairly recent games that have made me laugh, from the subtle (Arkham Asylum, namely Joker, or Company of Heroes' one-liners from the units) to the downright obvious (Psychonauts, to name but one). Many of these games are not at all designed around humour, but they wouldn't be complete without it. It's the part that sticks in my mind when I recall them. Games such as Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl or ARMA, although fantastically realised games, cannot compete with the attention grabbing of the more light-hearted titles when it comes to fond memories.

I always thought this game deserved more attention:

http://blood-bowl.se/imagine/abnf.JPG

What of Armed & Dangerous? That game was full of attempted funnies, and I laughed at most of the jokes. Infact, that game was more than 50% humor.

 

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