Posted in Champions Online, Fallen Earth, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft

Silly v. Serious

Out of the very, very few common qualities that World of Warcraft and Fallen Earth share, this one I notice the most: both titles are saturated with silly, quirky humor.  Whether it be the thinly-veiled NPC name to a real world celebrity, goofy quests (one of which invariably asks you to dig through poo — what is UP with devs with this?), or laugh-out-loud interactions with the game world, they’re titles that never quite take themselves too seriously.

Heck, not even just those two games.  Champions Online is quirky as all get-out (Foxbat FTW!), and Warhammer marinated itself in black humor that was always worth a chuckle.

Personally, I appreciate that.  I’m never a person who can be serious for long — I love puns, teasing friends and looking at the sillier side of life.  It doesn’t break immersion for me to have a game try to make me laugh, or at least smile.  Jokes and humor have always been appreciated in my video games going back to the time when Syp was a wee laddie, cackling at the gags in King’s Quest and Space Quest.  Pain, as the saying goes, lets you know you’re still alive.  Laughter, as I see it, lets you know you’re still tolerable.  And if you’re a special breed of person, freak everyone out in the nearby vicinity with your braying, unholy brand of chortles.

Of course, my viewpoint isn’t shared by all.  Some gamers downright resent humor — particularly glaring, obvious, silly humor — popping its unwelcome head up in their super-serious quest to pwn n00bs and commit genocide on the local fauna.  These grinches scowl at any attempt of a game to introduce levity in the midst of death, gore and epic loot drops.  And if that’s your thing, then sure, there are plenty of MMOs out there that stamp down on the funny in fear of it taking over like Kevin Bacon infesting that midwestern town with sinful, sinful dancing in Footloose.

So out of curiosity, what’s your stance on this?  Does humorous aspects of MMORPGs annoy or delight you?  Are you too hardcore for a laugh, too uber for a tuber?

"No, the whole article is silly and it's very badly written. I'm the senior officer here and I haven't had a funny line yet. So I'm stopping it."

18 thoughts on “Silly v. Serious

  1. Silly definately has its place in MMOs and other computer games. If it serves no other purpose, at least it reminds us that we are sitting in a hopefully comfortable room, enjoying ourselves by playing a game instead of doing something frustrating, like work.

  2. The Romans loved a good chuckle, sarcastic retort and humiliation by means of trivialising the existence of others.

    They also liked to crucify and feed people to beasts, not to mention invade all known and attainable regions of the known world slaughtering or assimilating its local populous.

    There’s always room for both.

    It’s also great for reminding yourself that you are in fact playing a game. It’s a tether to reality which is always welcome as far as I’m concerned.

  3. It’s always amusing to me to see these references. I think if it’s done well it adds to the game and shows the developer doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    For me, it adds a lot to the game. Now to go have a dead man’s party with Daniel Elfman.

  4. Humor, whether silly or sarcastic, is something I appreciate. Pop references are usually annoying, though. I like a world that finds it humor internally, not because it’s winking at the player about real world pop culture. (Notably, pop jokes also age very poorly, while internal jokes age much more gracefully, as well as contribute to building the world up as plausible.)

    For instance, Mr. Hopelesov, the critically injured footman in Allods Online, has a delightfully punny name. Haris Pilton in WoW is just dumb.

  5. Fallen Earth does it very well (I’m on the 10 day trial). It makes reading quests and NPC talk more enjoyable when you know there might be something clever in there.

  6. For me it depends on how it’s done and what the setting is. The things WoW does drove me crazy while I played it. It seemed less like humor and more like pandering to the masses, or even worse, self-aggrandized back-patting “look how clever we are” nonsense (hint: it’s not clever, really). Blizzard’s “humor” seems to be less about being fun and more about inserting pop-culture that creates common frames of reference for the playerbase to talk about. It’s not humor, it’s marketing, and it’s not being witty it’s playing to the lowest common denominator.

    However, that’s not to say humor has no place in the game, but I prefer topical in-game humor like Warhammer has to out-of-game real-world pop-culture BS like WoW has. You can be funny without breaking the 4th wall, so to speak.

    Foxbat in CO was a bit much . . . but at the same time it was kept perfectly in-game. Foxbat’s powers and personality just happen to be extremely weird and quirky but he doesn’t leave the game world with it.

  7. I liked Foxbat a lot in CO. He was an oddball psycopath who constantly broke the 4th wall. He definitely wasn’t as good as Deadpool in comics, but he’s similar. CO also had a lot of pop culture refrences. Like rescuing a news crew that mirrored all of Anchorman cast? Yeah, good stuff.

    I’m all for humor.

  8. I love humor in most games but Blizzard sometimes takes it too far. “Haris Pilton” and “Oprah Windfury” are examples of that. I enjoy in-jokes and pop-culture to a point but that is just stupid and too obvious to truly enjoy.

    I love the humor in WAR, especially on the Greenskin side. Such dark humor. This is why the Greenskin starting area is ranked very high in my list of all time favorite starting zones.

    Allods Online seems to have a similar view of humor in games, though since it is from a Russian point of view, it may not register with many American players. Still, I have seen a few things in Allods that have made me laugh out loud.

  9. I like some humour in MMO, the more geeky, the better. I don’t think it breaks immersion and sometimes it can be a nice nod to the thing that influence the game and it’s surroundings.

  10. I liked some of the Movie ripoffs in WoW. I can’t seem to think of them right now except for the Gorilla one in Ungoro Crater that was like Chasing Aim-me 1 or something like that.

  11. Linguistically humour is one of the ultimate uses of language. Understanding the humour is one of the last thing non-native speakers master when they learn a new language.

    Humour has profound implications for social groups, speaking of shared experiences and themes. Former Diablo 2 players all remember that combination of danger and zaniness known as Rakanishu.

    I found with games like Runes of Magic and Shaiya the lack of humour which was a direct result of non-mastery of the English language by the people who localised those games detracted enormously from the enjoyment.

    In a wider sense one of the draws of beautifully crafted games like WoW is the mastery of language. As Brian Inman remembers above allusion is a powerful element in making the game memorable even though allusion is not strictly humour. Rather the two are elements of a greater whole: mastery of the English language.

  12. Wow often goes too far. I loved the theatre boss fights in karazan(sp?) and the setting etc all worked well.

    The Mr T stuff is a bit much though.

  13. I laughed at the Haris Pilton in WoW, if you buy the bag off her you get the achievement ‘ My sack is gigantique’ …….. come on lighten up ya miserys. Comedy genius I tell thee!!!!

    Fallen Earth has some great Dark Humour thrown in, however I just laugh when my toon starts swearing. Easy pleased I guess.

  14. I’m one of those guys who think that the perfect jokes are told with a deadpan voice and a straight face. Therefore I’m fine with pop culture references and self-deprecating humor as long as they don’t stand out that much from the game lore. For example, you can think of the Linken questline in Un’Goro as just an another quest if you’ve never played the first Legend of Zelda or don’t look too closely at the Sword of Mastery. Or pay too much attention to innkeeper Norman of Undercity or innkeeper Bates of Sepulcher.

    I’m also fond of GTA’s and Fallout’s style of humor, where the original premises are stretched to the point of absurdity. For example, Fallout 3 has the Republic of Dave, which has all of the trappings of a real republic.. and a population of one family.

  15. I really like the sense of humor Blizzard sets into its game, Yes alot of it is common pop culture and even more is silly low common denominator humor, but there is so much in so many places there are whole sites dedicated to tracking down ALL of these obscure jokes. That by its self is something special. Besides warcraft has never tried to be the serious hardcore game, its always taken a light sense of humor with jokes thrown in. I love it.

    World of Weirdcraft.net your source or all things WOW

  16. It depends on the type of humor. The christmas event in Fallen Earth is a perfect example. E.L.F.S as an evil faction and you get to kill them? Funny.

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