Thursday, September 23, 2010

Playing the Fool

People are always on the lookout for games that can move us to tears. Personally, I’ve always been more interested in the problem of creating tears of laughter rather than tears of sorrow. Comedy is a delicate, difficult art; one that few games aspire to create.

This is what I used to think, but now I realize I may have been looking at things the wrong way. I’m most used to digesting comedy via literature and through performances in which I am an audience member. In video games, my role as the player casts me as both a performer and an audience member, which changes the way I perceive and experience humor.

To a large extent, all comedy is situational: watching a joke unfold with the privilege of being outside its area of effect lets us laugh at all kinds of situations. I love watching The Three Stooges, but I’m not so sure I’d want to be them:

Is it possible to play the part of a buffoon while still finding humor in the buffoonery? Are practical jokes still funny when you’re always the target? Where is the line between comedy and cruelty?

Funny games seem to be few and far between, but perhaps it’s hard to see humor when you’re a part of the joke?

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