Unleashing laughter: exploring the comedy potential in gaming

Video game controller

When you think of British comedy, which classics spring to mind? Harry Potter? The Crown? EastEnders? Just kidding...those would be weird choices for classic comedies. You were probably thinking something like Fawlty Towers, Dad's Army or Only Fools And Horses.

But what about video games? You probably didn't name a computer game when just thinking then.

It's easy to think the success of video games revolves around the quality of graphics or the level of gameplay difficulty. But doing so neglects that many great games have an interesting storyline and an excellent script that contains plenty of comedic beats. All sorts of games, from RPGs to point and clicks, from VR to NetEnt slots, feature some rich humour, often influenced by classic comedy.

Video games that also crack you up

When thinking about funny video games, there are plenty of titles that have gained a reputation for their humour. Grand Theft Auto is an obvious one. Created by Scots David Jones and Mike Dailley, GTA is not only funny on a satirical level but also contains wickedly sarcastic dialogue as well as ridiculous situations.

Lego Batman: The Videogame, is another classic, combining the humour of the Lego franchise with the iconic Batman characters. Created by Jon Burton, a Winchester native, the banter between Batman and Robin, as well as the comical situations they find themselves in, are brilliantly comedic.

While this is just a gentle reminder of a much larger catalogue of funny video games, it would be criminal not to mention Fable. The setting may be Medieval Britain, but the humour is Britain today, Britain tomorrow and Britain forever. Fable is British humour at its... crassest.

Writing side-splitting game scripts

Writing comedy is as easy as following the rules of the road in GTA - which is to say, it's not easy at all. Game scripts, like any form of comedy, require a combination of creativity, wit and an understanding of comedic timing. Specifics will depend on the type of game. For example, RPGs usually involve a more in-depth storyline, with humour weaved intricately into the storytelling while casino or slot games are likely to rely on amusing images or quick one-liners.

The general rules for scriptwriting will almost always apply: know your audience, develop strong characters, focus on worldbuilding and create a plan for the plot. To inject humour, ingest as much as you can. Play funny video games, watch stand-up, re-watch Harry Potter - um, we mean Monty Python - and take note of the timing, wordplay, visual gags and any moments that lead to a hearty chuckle. Use those beats to guide your own writing.

Published: Wednesday 6th September 2023

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