Reviving the Comedy Game Genre

Gamasutra recently published an interview with Al Lowe, creator of Leisure Suit Larry, one of the very few successful “comedic” game franchises ever developed. After many years, Al is jumping back into development with Sam Suede: Undercover Exposure. Yes, goofy sexuality has returned to the industry.  😉

I’ve often wondered why comedy-centric games are so rare. After all, every other visual medium has its fair share of humorous content. When Henry and I last chatted about this, he offered the following insights:

  • As they often say, comedy is when YOU slip on a banana peel, tragedy is when I slip on a banana peel. Games are (mostly) all about what happens to the player.
  • You can make elements of a game world funny — a kind of Alice in Wonderland effect — but the player may become frustrated if they don’t know what to do or how to respond. In other words, games can inadvertently drag out that uncomfortable feeling that happens when you “don’t get it.”
  • Comedy is rooted, in part, in the broad range of potential, unpredictable human responses. This is why flexible comedians like Robin Williams and Jim Carey are so successful (and even they botch the job from time to time.) How do you capture this element of comedy in a video game?

I’m not sure what can be done to account for these issues, and it’s been so long since I played the Leisure Suit Larry games that I can’t recall many examples of what made them funny. (I do recall that the Larry games were more interesting and ingenuous than funny… and maybe that says something.)

What are the funniest in-game moments that you have ever experienced?

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