Comedy of Contingency: Making Physical Humor in Video Game Spaces

Jaroslav Švelch


Although mediated humor is pervasive in our media cultures, media studies have largely glossed over the role of technology in the process of making humor. This article brings that topic into focus, while examining the Machinima-related subgenre of gameplay mischief video—the video montages of physical humor captured or staged in the simulated spaces of video games. Based on close reading of videos from three contemporary 3D action titles, interviews with the makers of these videos, and an analysis of humor techniques they employ, I argue that this vein of humor arises from the interaction between the player and the game. I also claim that the capacity of games to generate unexpected and contingent events is instrumental to this process.


video games, humor, comedy, slapstick, machinima

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