Should games lighten up a bit and make the player laugh? Tim Schafer, the designer of cult hits such as Full Throttle, Psychonauts, and Brutal Legend, certainly thinks so.
He spoke at the NYU Game Center last night and gave his opinion on the matter. To him, “If the game is not funny, you’re missing something.” He felt that while comedy is a risky thing, being subjective and all, more developers should attempt to infuse some humor into their titles. He noted that it helps to ease players into the narrative of the world and helps them to suspend their disbelief. “If you don’t have anything funny to say about a situation, the player will realize something’s fake,” he said.
Schafer also told the audience of the time when he was a writer for LucasArts’ The Secret of Monkey Island. Tasked with writing a romantic scene in just five lines, he decided to play it for laughs and felt it was more successful that way. “You can’t write a serious scene that has a pirate and a governor fall in love in five lines,” he said. “Humor is a tool to cover up the fact that this is not a solvable problem.”
He also expressed interest in wacky Japanese games like Katamari that don’t take themselves seriously, and defended the Mass Effect 3 ending, stating “[Games are] made by people. And those people have a point of view on the world and that’s interesting. Connecting with those people is what makes art art for me.”
Schafer recently raised $3.4 million in fan support to create a title that will revitalize the point-and-click adventure genre. No doubt his ideology towards humor will extend to that project as well.
I think Tim has a point. To me, humor has the power to invite players into a game’s world and make them feel welcome. If the game itself is having fun, the player will probably follow suit. What are your thoughts, single-players?