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RPGaDay 2016 – Day 23

23/08/2016

Identify an under-represented genre in RPGs that you would like to see more of.

Short Answer: Comedy.

Long Answer: This is the second time I’m skipping the set question for today in favour of an alternate. In this case it’s not because I don’t have an answer, it’s more that the answer has already been given. Multiple times. “Share one of your best ‘Worst Luck’ stories” is too easily answered by retelling the tale of my ill-fated Spycraft agent, so I’m picking something more interesting.

There’s an old saying that “dying is easy, but comedy is hard” attributed to many great minds, and wits, over the years. In the end it doesn’t really matter who said it first because it’s true. Sure, telling jokes and making puns is easy, but telling a series of jokes is not the same thing as comedy. You see this every time a stand up comedian is cast in a comedy (either TV or movie). Some successfully transition, while others remain stuck in their stand up frame of mind and ultimately fail.

On top of this, comedic tastes are heavily subjective. Far more so than most other genres. It’s far easier to succeed with an action scene than it is a comedic one. Maybe that’s why we’re more likely to see roleplaying games that more heavily focus on combat and conflict than levity and humour. When humour does appear, it’s usually due to a player or GM choosing to inject it.

There have been some roleplaying games that have, either directly or indirectly, encouraged comedic situation. Paranoia and Toon are two great examples. On the surface, Paranoia might not seem comedic, but the way the game plays easily lends itself to these sorts of situations. It’s hard to take things too seriously when dead characters are quickly replaced by an exact clone, and encourage players to act against their fellows.

Yet, even these games are fairly thin slices of the comedy genre. A quick glance over the comedy role-playing games category page on Wikipedia shows most games fall into a few sub-genres. There’s not a lot of romantic comedy in there, for starters. Maybe rom-coms don’t work all that well as a game, but there’s only one way to find out. I’d give it a go myself, but I have as much familiarity with the sub-genre as I do with the politics of ancient sub-Saharan cultures.

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