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DribbleDribble

Comedy in Serious Games

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Hello all, this is really just going to be sort of a short question to see all your opinions.

So, some games are meant to be completely serious, while others are purely comedic. But then there are games that seem funny but end up taking themselves way to seriously, and other games that have serious stories, but comedic and serious moments and side quests/stories.

My question is:
Is it good to mix comedic experiences into games in which the story has a serious tone to it?

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Quote:
Original post by DribbleDribble
My question is:
Is it good to mix comedic experiences into games in which the story has a serious tone to it?


In movies and TV, comedy is sometimes used as a tension breaker.

I think you open the game up to criticism, if the humor fails. And it will, since not everyone will fully understand the humor or find it funny.

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I completely understand, and somewhat agree.

But look at games like Fallout and Fable.

In fallout there are pleanty of serious toned missions with comedy thrown in, take the Tree quest line with the man grown into a tree, it, in the end, has a serious tone, but theres quirkky humor there also.

In Fable there is quite a bit, I know Fable is more comedic then serious, but its a comedic game that takes it self seriously to a good extent. I remember in Fable 2 I once dug a hole and found a condom.



Now, I know I, as an indie designer, wont be making Fallout and Fable level games anytime soon, but it brings up the debate of whether comedy is a good or bad thing.

I mean, look at brutal legends, it was a great game, but attempted to be to comedic for me, and I lost interest.

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I think a game could introduce comedy through a few channels, such as:

a) presentation
b) objectives
c) constraints/situations
d) characters

First of all the game is most sensitive to a change of tone in its presentation. If for a serious game you have overall comedic sound effects, the game will most likely lose its seriousness.

Next, since it is a serious game, the objective is probably serious, the game is most senstive to a change of tone in the objective. If you add comedy there, it has to match well. I am not exploring on what makes a comedy match well with objectives, that might be a follow-up question.

Second to that is adding comedy to constraints and situations. The game is less sensitive to that because at least the intention is serious. Funny things could happen during the mission, but that doesn't intrude the player's intention to do something serious.

The game is least sensitive to having characters making comedic comments. Say you are in a serious hit squad and one of the teammembers occassionally make a comedic comment or has a comedic quirk, then even if you don't get his humor, the blame is just on that one character. Note that if your entire team tries to be funny, then to the player, the comedy is not at a character level, but at the situatin level--The player is teamed with clowns instead of hitmen.

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Consider Resident Evil's "master of unlocking" line: pure comedy gold. Unintentional, yeah, but it didn't make the game any less scary.

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Is the game a tragedy? If so, there should most certainly be humor, so that the player is never accustomed to the pain. Even if it is not, the juxtaposition of humor and gravity will make the game seem more serious. Conversely, tragedy in a comic game will exemplify the comedy.

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The gravity of trying to make your game/film/novel/etc. serious all the time can become unintentionaly comedic. There is a danger of your work becomeing a self parody at that point.

At the risk of invokeing Godwins law. Lets say your game/film/novel/etc is a serious attempt to examine the Holocaust. You set it in a concentration camp, showing Nazi soldiers repeating whipping the Jewish prisoners around and into the gas chambers...Problem is that if you focus on this too much you deflate the point of your objective. Depicting the Nazi soldiers as one dimensional monsters negates the true serious horror of the Holocaust. And focusing too much on the details of whippings, beatings, and gas chamber deaths becomes fetistic voyeurism.

However, depicting the Nazi soldiers as normal (even likeable) people celebrating a new years eve party, intercut with the violence against and death of the Jewish prisoners raises the level of horror. Illustraiting the true evil of the Holocaust...Normal but misguided people committing horrific crimes against humanity.

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The problem with computer games and comedy is that they mostly seem to rely on slapstick, which doesn't mix well with serious themes. Fable 2 is the worst offender at this, having fart gags next to atrocities. Parody is also used far too much in computer games too, with most games having stupid elements in them just to point at them and go "hey this is a stupid element, but it's funny because we know about it". I feel for games to grow as a medium they need to properly mix serious events and everyday humour in a way that isn't as childish as they do now.

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Completely agreed.

I wont lie, I do enjoy Fable, its a fun game. But im not a fan of the kind of humor it has most of the time.

My favorite example of humor in games is honestly in Fallout, the context in which they use it fits the game world, and doesnt seem out of place. Also, it idnt the kind of humor that has to be realised, if you understand what I mean. It can be meant to be funny, but hhave enough of a serious undertone or overtone that if the player doesnt realize the intended comedy of it it doesnt ruin anything.

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I think Metal Gear Solid is a stunning example of getting that balance of serious storytelling and humour.

in metal gear solid 3 there are some qenuine heartbreaking moments followed by comedy that flows really well.

example: (spoilers)

Snake is tortured in a very dark, violent scene in which his eye is lost in the progress, it is fairly unnerving and really quite tense. The scene leads on to a bit where snake is lying alone in his cell, one eye short.
If you call your medic on the radio she tells you a scary story, upon falling asleep snake (a badass) has a bad dream that constists of a tech demo for another game. Snake then wakes up and moans about having a bad dream.

It's not in your face comedy but it's a comedic scene following something quite grim and very interesting in terms of tone.

I'd recomend checking out the MGS games if you'e interested in researching this topic further.

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