No Laughing Matter

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BloodRed Pixel:
Sorry, this article does NOT serve gaming culture.

This is single sided propaganda on FOX NEWS level: Pulling out some nasties and totally overlooking the BIG AMOUNT of games featuring the finer shades of humour.

And if one is not mature enough to take a dick joke for what it is then he/she is the REAL immature.

Did it ever occure to some morality preachers writing articles to check the semantics of the verb "gaming"? I guess not.

Couldn't agree more. There are just as many tongue-in-cheek-humor games as there is dick-joke games.

by only focusing on the bad, and just slightly mention the few most well known "correct" humor games, makes the whole article seem like nerdrage-bait. Hadnt it been published on escapist and written by a gamer, raging wouldve been ensured.

What about the "tales"-games? Sitcom and slapstick humor.
what about hilarious discussion that we hear in L4D and Dragon Age?
Completely forgotten the old FF games? Laughed more than I was sad/angry in those.

And the list goes on. All in all, articles like this just fuel the "gamers are generally immature" bonfire, and makes those gamers that dont wanna be asociated with that crowd act even more like hipster douchebags. One step closer to splitting the gamer community completely... Good job!

EDIT: Saying DNF is bad has become the new "George Lucas is destroying Star Wars!"....

three words, 'Sam and max'

On microcomputers and PCs game humour was every bit as advanced, mature and sometimes subtle in the '80s and '90s as it is now. Probably even more so.

Lucasarts games is the obvious example, but Sierra adventures and text adventures in general rarely lacked humour.

Even 'normal' games that didn't have humour as their main selling point, often managed to squeeze in a lot of hidden references and funny details.

The humour of Fallout didn't appear out of nowhere, it was heavily inspired by the 1988 game Wasteland.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasteland_%28video_game%29

There was a rich tradition of humour in video games and I feel this article ignores most of it, to drive home a point that is misleading and plain wrong.

Haakong:

BloodRed Pixel:
Sorry, this article does NOT serve gaming culture.

This is single sided propaganda on FOX NEWS level: Pulling out some nasties and totally overlooking the BIG AMOUNT of games featuring the finer shades of humour.

And if one is not mature enough to take a dick joke for what it is then he/she is the REAL immature.

Did it ever occure to some morality preachers writing articles to check the semantics of the verb "gaming"? I guess not.

Couldn't agree more. There are just as many tongue-in-cheek-humor games as there is dick-joke games.

by only focusing on the bad, and just slightly mention the few most well known "correct" humor games, makes the whole article seem like nerdrage-bait. Hadnt it been published on escapist and written by a gamer, raging wouldve been ensured.

What about the "tales"-games? Sitcom and slapstick humor.
what about hilarious discussion that we hear in L4D and Dragon Age?
Completely forgotten the old FF games? Laughed more than I was sad/angry in those.

And the list goes on. All in all, articles like this just fuel the "gamers are generally immature" bonfire, and makes those gamers that dont wanna be asociated with that crowd act even more like hipster douchebags. One step closer to splitting the gamer community completely... Good job!

EDIT: Saying DNF is bad has become the new "George Lucas is destroying Star Wars!"....

I'm a firm believer that, rather than disservice gaming as a medium/culture, criticism actually helps to promote growth and is more a labour of love than hate. Whether you disagree with my article or not is fine but I really don't believe that a piece like this should be able to "split the community completely". How else are we supposed to get more out of games if we can't talk about what they're doing right or wrong? Every fully formed artistic medium has evolved because of criticism and games shouldn't be any different.

Bostur:
On microcomputers and PCs game humour was every bit as advanced, mature and sometimes subtle in the '80s and '90s as it is now. Probably even more so.

Lucasarts games is the obvious example, but Sierra adventures and text adventures in general rarely lacked humour.

Even 'normal' games that didn't have humour as their main selling point, often managed to squeeze in a lot of hidden references and funny details.

The humour of Fallout didn't appear out of nowhere, it was heavily inspired by the 1988 game Wasteland.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasteland_%28video_game%29

There was a rich tradition of humour in video games and I feel this article ignores most of it, to drive home a point that is misleading and plain wrong.

I can see how you think the article ignores aspects of videogame humour but some examples had to sidelined or omitted in order to look mainly at prevailing trends. Missing out on seminal PC games from the late '80s and early '90s wasn't my intention but it's extremely difficult to try to name everything that has done a good job of advancing game humour while still writing something concise.

In an earlier draft I talked a lot about the good stuff going on in PC games (including some of your examples)in the introduction but, considering that much of this work was being drowned out by more mainstream (and of greater influence outside of gamer/dev. culture) games I had to cut these points.

It would be great to write a more exhaustive history of game humour that includes more titles but I think, ultimately, even with more detail (and absolutely everything considered that ought to be considered) we'd still see the same major trends in game comedy coming through. It's not misleading to concentrate on the most noteworthy examples in a shorter article.

No mention of Ratchet & Clank? For shame. Everything Captain Qwark says cracks me up, particularly, "Take that, culture!"

Reid McCarter:

I can see how you think the article ignores aspects of videogame humour but some examples had to sidelined or omitted in order to look mainly at prevailing trends. Missing out on seminal PC games from the late '80s and early '90s wasn't my intention but it's extremely difficult to try to name everything that has done a good job of advancing game humour while still writing something concise.

In an earlier draft I talked a lot about the good stuff going on in PC games (including some of your examples)in the introduction but, considering that much of this work was being drowned out by more mainstream (and of greater influence outside of gamer/dev. culture) games I had to cut these points.

Maybe it's a matter of perspective, but I as an almost exclusively PC gamer consider games like Monkey Island 1 & 2, Baldurs Gate II, Day of the Tentacle (just to name a few) as pretty mainstream and influential, and those had some great jokes and funny dialogue.

Reid McCarter:

Haakong:

BloodRed Pixel:
Sorry, this article does NOT serve gaming culture.

This is single sided propaganda on FOX NEWS level: Pulling out some nasties and totally overlooking the BIG AMOUNT of games featuring the finer shades of humour.

And if one is not mature enough to take a dick joke for what it is then he/she is the REAL immature.

Did it ever occure to some morality preachers writing articles to check the semantics of the verb "gaming"? I guess not.

Couldn't agree more. There are just as many tongue-in-cheek-humor games as there is dick-joke games.

by only focusing on the bad, and just slightly mention the few most well known "correct" humor games, makes the whole article seem like nerdrage-bait. Hadnt it been published on escapist and written by a gamer, raging wouldve been ensured.

What about the "tales"-games? Sitcom and slapstick humor.
what about hilarious discussion that we hear in L4D and Dragon Age?
Completely forgotten the old FF games? Laughed more than I was sad/angry in those.

And the list goes on. All in all, articles like this just fuel the "gamers are generally immature" bonfire, and makes those gamers that dont wanna be asociated with that crowd act even more like hipster douchebags. One step closer to splitting the gamer community completely... Good job!

EDIT: Saying DNF is bad has become the new "George Lucas is destroying Star Wars!"....

I'm a firm believer that, rather than disservice gaming as a medium/culture, criticism actually helps to promote growth and is more a labour of love than hate. Whether you disagree with my article or not is fine but I really don't believe that a piece like this should be able to "split the community completely". How else are we supposed to get more out of games if we can't talk about what they're doing right or wrong? Every fully formed artistic medium has evolved because of criticism and games shouldn't be any different.

I also doubt that your article will bring forth a gaming revolution, but as I write: It HELPS splitting the community. You can spew out as much exagerated critisism of a fictional problem you want and think its for the good of gaming, but theres too many easily influential idiots out there thats just waiting to get their claws on "proof" like this. One article isnt gonna cause hysteria. 10 articles? Maybe. 100? Now people are really opening their eyes! Then every gamer gotta take a stand: The wannabe intellectuals that shun this kinda fun, or the raging jocks who just wanna blow off some nuts.

My point is, youre fueling the fire. If we keep spewing out about how immature/violent/sexist our hobby is (when its nothing close to the immaturity of certain music genres and films), people will start believing it. In the worst case, many gamers will stop playing games since they grow tired of the ridicule and weird looks.

All here share a hobby, and love it so much were willing to spend hours of our time debating around it! Just stop trying to demonize it. Claiming gaming humor is immature in general is rage-bait.

Haakong:

Reid McCarter:

Haakong:

Couldn't agree more. There are just as many tongue-in-cheek-humor games as there is dick-joke games.

by only focusing on the bad, and just slightly mention the few most well known "correct" humor games, makes the whole article seem like nerdrage-bait. Hadnt it been published on escapist and written by a gamer, raging wouldve been ensured.

What about the "tales"-games? Sitcom and slapstick humor.
what about hilarious discussion that we hear in L4D and Dragon Age?
Completely forgotten the old FF games? Laughed more than I was sad/angry in those.

And the list goes on. All in all, articles like this just fuel the "gamers are generally immature" bonfire, and makes those gamers that dont wanna be asociated with that crowd act even more like hipster douchebags. One step closer to splitting the gamer community completely... Good job!

EDIT: Saying DNF is bad has become the new "George Lucas is destroying Star Wars!"....

I'm a firm believer that, rather than disservice gaming as a medium/culture, criticism actually helps to promote growth and is more a labour of love than hate. Whether you disagree with my article or not is fine but I really don't believe that a piece like this should be able to "split the community completely". How else are we supposed to get more out of games if we can't talk about what they're doing right or wrong? Every fully formed artistic medium has evolved because of criticism and games shouldn't be any different.

I also doubt that your article will bring forth a gaming revolution, but as I write: It HELPS splitting the community. You can spew out as much exagerated critisism of a fictional problem you want and think its for the good of gaming, but theres too many easily influential idiots out there thats just waiting to get their claws on "proof" like this. One article isnt gonna cause hysteria. 10 articles? Maybe. 100? Now people are really opening their eyes! Then every gamer gotta take a stand: The wannabe intellectuals that shun this kinda fun, or the raging jocks who just wanna blow off some nuts.

My point is, youre fueling the fire. If we keep spewing out about how immature/violent/sexist our hobby is (when its nothing close to the immaturity of certain music genres and films), people will start believing it. In the worst case, many gamers will stop playing games since they grow tired of the ridicule and weird looks.

All here share a hobby, and love it so much were willing to spend hours of our time debating around it! Just stop trying to demonize it. Claiming gaming humor is immature in general is rage-bait.

I'm definitely not saying that one piece of game criticism is going to start a revolution either -- I'm just saying that, like books, films, music, etc., beginning a dialogue is extremely important for helping to move things forward. If anyone putting forth any kind of critical questions has to worry about catering to "easily influential idiots" then criticism will always stay in a stasis and the medium won't move forward.

There's nothing wrong with immaturity in games (or any form of art/entertainment) but the point of the article was to look at how "immature" humour (and I realize that humour is very subjective and tried to maintain objectivity in the article for just that purpose) has typified some of the blockbuster games in the short history of videogames. Sure, that requires some level of generalization but nowhere does the article "demonize" games on a whole. It only points out that games are a medium in their infancy and that we owe it to the medium to maybe want its humour to "grow up" in a sense.

When setting out to write this I really thought hard (and had discussions with an editor) about how to approach this subject without it coming off as "trolling" or "baiting". It's unfortunate if you think that that's what the bottom line of the article is when there actually was some careful thought behind how to present a subject like this without unnecessarily provoking readers.

I also wish that I had asked for a 500 word extension to write solely about early adventure games and how important they've been for setting out a blueprint for successful videogame comedies. I'll still stand behind the fact that they are far less "generally" influential than louder, dumber examples of game humour though -- I think the non-gaming public are more likely to know what Doom or Mortal Kombat are than Day of the Tentacle or Monkey Island.

Reid McCarter:

I also wish that I had asked for a 500 word extension to write solely about early adventure games and how important they've been for setting out a blueprint for successful videogame comedies. I'll still stand behind the fact that they are far less "generally" influential than louder, dumber examples of game humour though -- I think the non-gaming public are more likely to know what Doom or Mortal Kombat are than Day of the Tentacle or Monkey Island.

But is other form of media that much different from video games when it comes to comedy? For every genuinely funny and intelligent film, there are dozens of "comedies" which comedic depth doesn't go further than jokes about sex and bodily functions, and those aren't all box office flops either. The most financially successful comedy movies aren't the most sophisticated, and I'd say it's very similar when it comes to games.

Humor's almost as bad as porn. If it works, it works; if it doesn't, it's embarrassing.

I don't think this article's going to add much to anyone's understanding of humor and its use in games. I'm perfectly happy to believe that Duke Nukem Forever fails where other shooters succeed; but the suggestion that DNF is not satire in intent seems ludicrous.

Subatomic:

Reid McCarter:

I also wish that I had asked for a 500 word extension to write solely about early adventure games and how important they've been for setting out a blueprint for successful videogame comedies. I'll still stand behind the fact that they are far less "generally" influential than louder, dumber examples of game humour though -- I think the non-gaming public are more likely to know what Doom or Mortal Kombat are than Day of the Tentacle or Monkey Island.

But is other form of media that much different from video games when it comes to comedy? For every genuinely funny and intelligent film, there are dozens of "comedies" which comedic depth doesn't go further than jokes about sex and bodily functions, and those aren't all box office flops either. The most financially successful comedy movies aren't the most sophisticated, and I'd say it's very similar when it comes to games.

That's a really good point. I think the only difference is that, since games are still more of a niche form of entertainment/art than movies (although this is, thankfully, becoming less true with every year), general audiences are more likely to hear about only the massively successful titles than the smaller ones.

Huge film comedies can range from a "Meet the Parents/Fockers, Whatever" to a "Kick-Ass" or "True Grit" because film is a more widely accepted medium in our culture right now than games are. More people are paying attention to what's being talked about, basically. Luckily, as mentioned in the article, big game releases are maturing along with the medium and we can have a spring release schedule where Portal 2 is as noteworthy as DNF.

I definitely see what you're saying but I think big, culturally-noteworthy games are still in the process of reaching the kind of mix of sophistication/lack of sophistication of films. This is especially true with older titles. As people who are passionate about games we understand that there were great, truly funny titles being released at the same time as gross-out ones but not everyone will be able to see this as well because the "immature" games took up more cultural real-estate.

C'mon, when making an article talking about humor in video games, you can't just go straight to the crudest failure of humor like Duke Nukem. That's like saying all comedy films are only as good as "Good Luck Chuck" or "Freddy Got Fingered".

Where's the mention of Portal? Where's the brilliant humor of Monkey Island? What about the Lego Star Wars games? Mass Effect has some awesome comedy moments in it. Even a horror game like Silent Hill 2 has moments of bizarre humor and easter eggs (just like the Dog Ending).

My friends and I still laugh over Brutal Legend and we still find the goofy bits of Mortal Kombat endearing. Even Pokemon White is filled with these insipid side-characters that are beyond ridiculous and have some of the most amusing dialogue in any video game ever.

Focusing on Duke Nukem Forever and Shadows of the Damned is, yeah, a bit of a disservice to humor in games, just as it would be like saying Postal and Leisure Suit Larry are the most prominent "mature" games on the market. The games and genres have given us so much more than that.

Reid McCarter:

I definitely see what you're saying but I think big, culturally-noteworthy games are still in the process of reaching the kind of mix of sophistication/lack of sophistication of films. This is especially true with older titles. As people who are passionate about games we understand that there were great, truly funny titles being released at the same time as gross-out ones but not everyone will be able to see this as well because the "immature" games took up more cultural real-estate.

Let me first say that I appreciate your activity in the discussion, you are receiving a lot of flak for this article, and a lot of people would have taken cover by now. :-)

I realize that full coverage of video game humour isn't possible due to space restrictions. Still I don't agree that immature games took up more cultural real-estate and I especially don't agree that games have moved to a more mature stage over time. This seems to be your basic claim but it only looks like that because of the examples that you use.

It's a very subjective topic of course. Trying to cover the topic from an objective stance would be impossible.

I find that movies in the 80's were far more immature than gaming culture, who mostly looked to litterature and earlier decades of moviemaking for inspiration. Monthy Python was used a lot for inspiration in video games, so was Douglas Adams. It was a culture of geeks, and geeks tend to have pretty advanced humour. Since then the market has become more mainstream and this rarely helps maturity in my opinion.

Still my own point of view is also limited of course based on age, platform and nationality. And the 80's and 90's certainly had its share of immature games. The sheer amount of games made in that time was staggering.

I think the thing that is being overlooked is that when dealing with humour in games, unlike in say movies/music/books/tv shows with humour, is that how we feel about the game aspect of the game is going to affect our appreciation of the humour. While I haven't played Duke Nukem and as such cant comment on the gameplay or the humour, I'm willing to bet that the fact that DNF's gameplay was crap was also why people didn't like the humour, and while I'm not saying that the humour is bad only because the gameplay is bad, what I am saying is that bad gameplay is inevitably going to have a negative view on the humour, worsening it by one level (amazing to great, great to good, good to bad, bad to awful, etc.). And this doesn't have to be all at once either, it can happen gradualy as the game continues.

Take Shadows of the Damned for example. The game is certainly a humour-centered game, and as the game contiues the humour should grow with it, but it doesn't. Why? While the humour certainly continues for a while, there appears to be less of it, and in some cases the quality of the humour goes down, with humour peaking during the Big Boner section, and then the humour sort of just drops alot in both quantity and quality. But again, why, even though there were still some things left, did the humour feel really bad towards the end? Because after the Big Boner section, gameplay started to drop down. There were no more new mechanics, enemies started to repeat and were following predictable paterns, basically it felt like alot of potential had gone untapped, and that in turn affected the humour. After all, dick and fart jokes can only go so far, and when the gameplay that helps to disperse the jokes feels bad, the humour feels bad as well, even if the humour from before was good and is somewhat unchanged throughout. The gameply is ultimately going to decide the flow of the humour, and unfortunately for games like Shadows of the Damned even if the initial humour was pretty hilarious its the humour towards the end thats also going to determine the full quality of humour, which in this case does not work in SotD favour

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