There have been a lot of articles over the years that argue how games should be considered a legitimate art form, and while I am in agreement with that point, there just isn’t much out there talking about how games can be funny. I have seen some articles that point out how silly the Mario and Luigi RPG games are in things the characters say, but I am not talking silly, I am talking funny and there is a big difference between the two. I liken the silly games (which are not just Mario games by the way, looking at you Lego games) to knock-knock jokes, in that I primarily think of them as for children because the jokes are cute and innocent. Yes those games can be challenging and are enjoyable to play and beat, but I tend to just try to breeze through the dialogue because the jokes usually don’t even cause me to crack a smile.
Funny games on the other hand, are few and far between, but are always welcomed. I get it; there is a lot of red tape involved in making games, and the scripted dialogue can get old, especially when you consider everything you hear will likely be heard several times because of dying or replaying levels, but the adversity can be overcome, and when it does it tends to make for exceptional games. Three games that come to mind are the Portal series, Grand Theft Auto, and Thomas Was Alone (By the way, I know people clamor for Half Life episode 3, but how about a call out for a Portal 3?). These games are super funny, as in there are times where you will likely laugh out loud from the commentary in the games. Both Portal games are fantastic and part of that is due to the gameplay and puzzles, but another factor was the funny things Glados and Wheatley would say throughout the game. The first game had a great end credits song (which I have on my iPod), is held in high regard by many as the best part of the Orange box, and embedded the phrase “The cake is a lie” into the gaming subconscious, which even now causes a slight grin in a corner of my mouth. The point is, as a gamer knocking on the door to 40, Portal was the first game where I really felt like the developers set out to make a game consistently funny, and it was a fantastic breath of fresh air. Sure Grand Theft Auto can be funny, but there is a level of seriousness that it has to maintain as well, and the humor is more of the occasional variety than consistent – however it is still there. All of these games deserve to be played, and even though I suffer from a growing backlog of games to play like many other folks, none of these should not be put off into that “someday” category. They have great ratings, great humor, are amazing to play, and might just open your eyes to realize how much a game can actually make you laugh.
By the way, I do realize there is another type of funny out there in games; the funny that is not intentional, like glitches in gameplay or due to poor translation from one language to another, but I do not really count those games into the funny category. Like most gamers, I know the whole Zero Wing “All your base are belong to us,” is the most prominent example of the translation issue, but I have never played the game and to be honest do not really want to. I want a game that wants to make me laugh as the intent of the developers, not as just a coincidence. Also, I want more of these funny games, because there are not nearly enough of them in my mind.