I think the Waypoint PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS
Edit: I was not done writing this and accidentally hit enter, shoot. Please hold while I frantically edit.
Edit 2: Alright, let’s try that again…
I think the Waypoint PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS streams are a good example of comedy arising from players’ interactions with a game. It’s fairly easy to think of other examples of that type of thing, but I guess the real question is whether games writing can make intentional jokes funny through scripted moments.
One of the features of stand-up comedy or comedy television/movies is that they tend to be packed with funny moments at a very deliberate pace. That sort of comedic pacing seems like it would be hard to replicate in a game, since player actions will interfere with carefully constructed setups for punchlines unless a lot of care is taken to restrict player actions. It would be like having an insightful comment about comedy in games ruined by accidentally submitting it after only writing a sentence amiright? Ha! Ha!
I think it’s interesting to look at games that do try to use the conventions of other comedic media, like the old text-adventure Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game, or the more recent Starship Titanic. Filling a game world with absurd events and humorous notes does kind of work, but it’s hardly as effective as it is in a book or movie since watching someone else get frustrated by wacky antics is generally more fun than it is to experience the frustration of repeatedly losing a life-saving translation fish yourself in a brutal game puzzle.
However, that’s not to say that games can’t be intentionally funny. I think Frog Fractions mostly succeeds at pacing its jokes by understanding its players’ expectations. The gameplay in the original Frog Fractions doesn’t leave much room for deviation; it may take a while for players what’s happening, but player ability doesn’t fundamentally change much in the game. In the few spots where players can get temporarily stuck, the game can quickly lose its charm.