We Want Our Tea Back! 11.20.03

More Rugby

Well, I was 1 from 2 last week, but I called the important one, so that’s OK. England Australia, the final? Hmmm. The Aussies dominated their semi, but what sort of a New Zealand side were they playing against? One that forgot to turn up, by the look of things. England won’t be such a pushover. However, from my own experience (when I last saw England play Australia), you can never discount the Aussies; give ’em an inch, and they’re away. This time however, I can’t see England letting this one slip away. The team’s just about the best it’s ever been, and we have a huge advantage in that we have TWO very capable kickers, while the Aussies have one mediocre one. All else being equal, Wilkinson and Catt will win it for us. It might not be pretty, but it’ll be a win. And the nation will go mad. And I’ll probably still be celebrating this time next week, so if I miss a column, you’ll know why.

UK Gaming News

Time to try something different: Here’s a few UK releases, due out this Friday, courtesy of gamesradar.co.uk

Championship Manager: Season 03/04 (PC)
XIII (PC)
Manhunt (PS2)
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (PS2)
Grabbed by the Ghoulies (Xbox)
Ratchet and Clank 2: Locked and Loaded (PS2)
Tony Hawk’s Underground (PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, GBA)
Need for Speed Underground (PS2, Xbox, Gamecube)
Pro Evolution Soccer 3 (PC)

Pimps like a Hollywood Madam

Lee is doing his damnedest to find work, so “mad props” to him. But he’s using his down-time in a highly-unproductive manner (playing video games lots), so even bigger “props” for that.

Cory has clearly mastered the Art of Studentdom ’cause he, like me, is currently sacrificing his further education to provide gaming content. Ah, well, 411Games will look good on a CV!

Lucard comes up with one-and-a-half columns this week, as he talks fighting games and talks about post

Bryan has good news if you think “video games brainwashed my kids” legal action is absolute B.S.

Alex Williams must be exhausted; So enjoy the double-helping of DDR obsession while you can.

Can LiquidCross be angry when he’s talking about Megaman? Click and find out.

Commentary

Humour. Spelt with a “u” because I don’t speak American. It’s an elusive beast, not least because it’s so subjective. One person laughs at a fart joke, another person cringes. It’s very difficult to get demographics for because tastes vary so wildly.

What does this have to do with games? Easy. This week, it’s time to look at the funny side of gaming. An exploration of humour types, and how they relate to this worderful medium we know as video games.

First, and most obvious, is “visual humour”. By its nature, this lends itself very well to video games. Anybody can code a visual gag; whether it’s Earthworm Jim taking on Heck’s army of nearly-indestructible lawyers, or classic Warner Bros cartoon slapstick (be it Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck or Tiny Toons; they, and more, have made it into games with the style intact). Whilst this can be very effective, its ease can often lend itself to hideously bad toilet humour (anybody ever heard of Boogerman? That was a *bad* game, and totally unfunny).

Secondly, you have “bizarre humour”. Stuff that just makes you go  and then laugh out loud. Monty Python would have to be the classic example of this (Fish-slapping dances? Dead Parrot sketches? Mad as a legion of hatters, I tell you!) Earthworm Jim, again, comes into the fore. 30 seconds into the first game, and you’re required to launch a cow high into the air in order to progress. Then later on, you engage in a bungee battle with a giant ball of snot. Highly surreal, but it gets its response (often because the brain doesn’t quite know how to react). Some, however, might see this as “cheating”, because you’re not actually putting in real humour, you’re just messing with people’s heads. But I say ‘feh’ to them. The strangeness inherent in so many jokes is what makes them work. And anybody knocking Monty Python needs their heads examined.

Now we look at something more specific: the “In-Joke”. This of course relies on some prior knowledge, but if you have that, it can really open things up. I’m thinking about examples like Castlevania, when The Vampire Lord shows up, and there’s a joke about “not being able to use his name”; that never made any sense to me until I met the real A. Lucard, and he explained it. Or the classic from the end of Super Mario Bros 3: “Our Princess is in another castle… Just kidding!” These sorts of jokes are arguably the hardest to implement, because they work off the extra knowledge: if you want the jokes to work, you have to have enough of a franchise (or a fanbase) to make it worthwhile.

Finally, we come to a method seen in moderation, though perhaps more recently since a TV show known as Buffy The Vampire Slayer really stepped it up a notch, and more recently, Disney’s Haunted Mansion followed the example. I refer, of course, to Pop Culture Reference Humour, which I’m separating from In-Joke humour because it tends to require a more general knowledge of pop/subculture, rather than specific knowledge of a specific game/series. I’ll admit to not having played HM because it’s not out over here yet, but I still know it’s packed to the gills with knowing references: the 411 Review makes it quite clear. These sorts of references used to be very difficult to insert, because they tend to be verbal in nature, but in recent times, with even platforms, action games and shoot-em-ups having more and more story (and accompanying text), as well as increased use of in-game voice-acting, the opportunity is there. Hell, even True Crime has the lead character making self-referential comments about being stuck in a bad cop movie.

Oh, and I’ll just mention, there’s “Train-wreck Humour”. This can come from playing a game that is laughably bad (eg Tomb Raider) or the schadenfreude of watching some ill-advised gaming business venture going down the pan, which isn’t *technically* humour in a game, but right now it’s an excuse to berate Nokia some more (N-Gage fails horribly! HA HA!), so I’m taking it.

So there it is. Humour doesn’t have to be the preserve of Have I Got News For You, The Daily Show, or yet another tired Hollywood comedy. There are plenty of laughs out there in the world of video games, if one only knows where to look.

This is Misha, signing off.