The first time an in-game joke made me laugh it involved, as so many good jokes do, a Rabbi. I was playing Leather Goddesses of Phobos and had a machine that removed the “T” from words. You were supposed to use it to remove the “t” from “tangle” to get an “angle”, but instead I dropped a rabbit into it. When the Rabbi jumped out, curls and all, I laughed. Not a snort of appreciation, not a smile of acknowledgment, a full-bore, out loud laugh. I knew that games could be clever, I knew that they could be smart, but I never knew they could actually be that damn funny. It was a glorious moment.

Since then, plenty of games have thrilled me or scared me, but only a few have genuinely made me laugh. Earthworm Jim‘s “What the Heck?” level complete with elevator music: Genius. Psychonauts‘ bacon, lungfish, and milk: Absurd. Resident Evil‘s voice acting that’s so bad, it’s brilliant: Hilarious. But when I think of nonstop giggles and guffaws the one game that comes to mind is TimeSplitters 2.

The game itself is pretty amusing, what with its tongue in cheek writing and cartoonish art style. It has a multitude of ridiculous characters that you can unlock for use in multiplayer matches, including a snowman on a flying carpet, a monkey, a giant gingerbread man, and a duck. Again, silly, but not really enough to elicit a chortle or even a snicker.

The game’s extremely customizable deathmatches are the path to hilarity. The settings: one-hit kills. The match’s sole weapon: the brick. The brick wasn’t particularly aerodynamic, what with it being a brick and all, so pegging your opponent from across the map just wasn’t going to happen. You could be within spitting distance of other players and still not be able to hit them. All the usual deathmatch strategy went straight out the window, as most points were scored by players getting nose to nose (or nose to belly, if one of them was the vertically-challenged monkey) and chucking bricks as quickly as possible in the hopes of scoring a kill. It was wonderfully stupid and hilarious. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much while playing a game as I did flinging bricks at a duck.

Games touch our spirits in many ways. They make us feel powerful. They make us feel like part of a community. They even make us cry. And sometimes, when we’re very lucky, they make us laugh.

Share and enjoy,

Susan Arendt

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