I love games. I also have a healthy appreciation for the funnier things in life. I love fantasy too. So, obviously, I love Lord of The Rings. Guess what happened when the Lego Lord of the Rings game came out?
I did wonder how they would get around some of the more PG-13 stuff since Lego is a completely family-friendly game. Then this happened:
Yeah…I cracked up. It was such a uniquely Lego moment. Something that was still relevant to the source material, but silly, while still being a genuinely good boss fight. I realized I loved the game more for that silliness. When I thought about it, I began to see that there were so many games that embraced silliness and were well-loved as a result. I couldn’t help but wonder why.
Why do silly games work? I reached out to gamers around the world to see what they had to say.
What is a silly game?
By silly I don’t mean childish or stupid. Instead, I am referring to the games that embrace the absurd and fun in more ways than just simple comedic dialogue.
Family games like Lego where flying chickens replace arrows. Adult games like Deadpool and Borderlands where zany characters and crazy NPCs give us a laugh even as we go through darker material. Games with ‘silly’ mechanics and crazy weapons, like Splatoon or Besiege, where we get to do new and interesting things we otherwise couldn’t have imagined. These are single-player, social, or co-op games that, through silliness, change how we relate to the game or to our friends while we play it.
I love the weird sense of humour in games like ‘Destroy All Humans’. They embrace a good story-telling plot with an overdose of creative fun. Often in this genre, we get to view humans as the over-dramatic species that we are.
Darrel D, Australia
Connecting with the details
Many of the gamers I spoke to agreed that silly games were interesting and different. For some, it was the crazy characters and world details they encountered that made the games memorable. Many could name specific NPCs that changed their game experience.
Boring NPCs can feel like an obstacle when you are focused on an objective. I think eccentric characters in video games grab your attention and enable better in-mission storytelling – Tiny Tina e.g. grabs your attention even as things blow up around you.
Adrian K, Germany
The story (of Borderlands) took me in immediately. But it was also the absolute weirdness of the landscape, the main conflict with Jack (one of the best-written antagonists of all time), the sheer insanity of the side quests, and how it catered to different playing styles through the vault hunters. As a result of these details and the world, this game became replayable gold. I am still able to discover something new every time I replay it with different friends.
Sarat G, India
A safe space
The details are simply things we encounter. Silly games also make an incredible impact with interesting mechanics or crazy protagonists. They provide gamers with a chance to play in unique, often cathartic ways. They allow you the freedom to try things knowing you won’t be penalized for it.
I think maybe it’s a personal thing but I like chaos in a game
Like in Hitman, I love that you need stealth. But I also love that you can literally throw a frying pan at targets and run away and still be successful. All that goofiness in many games allows me to be myself within the game.
The characters in silly games are mirrors of the sillier parts of our personalities. It provides freedom and a safe space where you are able to see parts of yourself being a hero and doing insane things.
Deadpool let me live my best snarky life, including making a ton of pancakes and chasing the ultimate chimichanga!
Zen J, India
The Ultimate Break
For all those reasons and many more, silly games serve as the ultimate break. A fun way to shake off difficult days or the pressure from more serious games.
I usually play deep dark fantasy games or survival stuff (souls like games, The Witcher, Final Fantasy, etc.). Fluff and silly stuff are like a palette cleanser. When it gets to be too much, I revert to Lego Harry Potter and Borderlands. It feels like silly games take a normal familiar premise and get a 5-year-olds opinion on “what could go wrong.”
They require very little brain power and they do not make me cry and/or throw my controller through the window.
Dominique D, Germany
Deer/gear simulator or Katamari are games I would consider silly, and I love those. The stakes aren’t high and the games are funny but still challenging. Then there are games like Fallout 4 where you’re going about your day and find some stuffed bears playing out a tiny scene somewhere that makes you smile. It became a goal to try and find more. I like a little goofiness mixed into things
Nakita S, Washington
To celebrate #NationalPandaDay, our very own Panda will be running our TEKKEN Twitter account.
Please welcome her as our Social Media Manager for the day!🐼💗 pic.twitter.com/qcqPQNV6TY
— TEKKEN (@TEKKEN) March 16, 2022
Right now, everything around us is a mess. With Covid and the economy, life is just plain depressing. Some of us want an escape to something that has no pressure and can just make us smile and laugh. Games like ‘Have a nice death’, Ori, Tekken, Devil May Cry, Deadpool… They’re just… fun. When was the last time anyone just did something for fun?
Karina D, India
The magic of silly games
In the middle of finals, while I balanced work with 12 hours of assignments a day, Lego games became my escape and a weekly tradition for my circle of friends. Along with Overcooked and Jackbox games, they formed Game nights where we all hung out, bickered, and ate way too much food. These games helped us unwind and close out our long weeks.
It is something we still do, even though we are now spread out across the globe. It may not be weekly or even monthly, but when we get on a call, we choose to pick up one of these games rather than Destiny or COD.
Silly mechanics/rules put players into a specific mindset that favors the social aspect of gaming over the competitive. Their mechanics are easy to remember because they stand out. This makes the game session have less downtime with questions about rules.
Silly games are the ultimate party games because it removes the pressure to win. They have a lower barrier of entry and are thus accessible to all kinds of gamers.
Adam B, Sweden
Games have genres like tv or movies. Not everyone is a horror, adventure, or romantic fan, but most people, especially in a group are down for a comedy. Silly games are the comedy of the world of the games. You get to be silly with the game. Along with having more age-appropriate options, they allow for all kinds of gamers. Beginners, casual, and hardcore gamers.
Tina C, California
Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that the competitiveness goes away. You only need to look at a Splatoon or Fortnite tournament to see that people still want to win. But the fun element makes it easier to have a laugh with it. Even while siblings around the world wage wars over Mario Kart, friends giggle as they throw banana peels.
While driving this morning, I saw a banana peel in the road and swerved to avoid it…Thanks Mario Kart. pic.twitter.com/6fpoYBpZRa
— MatPat (@MatPatGT) June 29, 2016
I am not really a gamer but I like silly games. I genuinely enjoy watching people play games and a silly game becomes more than an activity for the players but a social activity for everyone. I feel like I’m participating in my own way by enjoying the humorous aspects/storytelling that is present in less serious games
Megan W, California
We are the heart of a Silly game
What I took away from this entire exercise is that silly games are loved because they mirror who we are as people. It’s why I believe they will always have a place in gaming. They are competent, yet unconventional. They are the perfect representation of us with all our friends- chaotic but loving. They give us a safe comedic lens through which to assess serious topics. But mainly, they give us a chance to be silly and have a good time. They provide us with a chance to laugh even as we are challenged and raised up.
So, for every Last of Us and Dishonored and Diablo, we get a Bugsnax and Ratchet and Clank. We all need a little silliness in our lives, and games allow us to live it.