PBS Game/Show, Goat Simulator, and “Interactive” Humor

*Author’s Note: This post is a bit late, seeing as this is a response to a Game/Show episode that aired roughly 20 days ago, but still a necessary response, I think.

Justin Keever | Jun 25, 2014

Proper videogame discussion has been colored by problematic player-centric, anti-narrative rhetoric for some time, but I admit I never expected for these sorts of arguments to arise in an analysis of Goat Simulator. But, in a recent episode of PBS Game/Show – titled “Is Goat Simulator Brilliant or Stupid?” – Jamin Warren presents us with a new source of this tired rhetoric. Warren begins the latest episode of his show by lamenting the lack of intentionally comedic videogames, saying that most of the humorous content in videogames comes in the form of bizarre glitches and behaviors. He then lists off a few exceptions to the rule, citing well-known videogame comedies, like Full Throttle and Conker’s Bad Fur Day, before dismissing them in the very same breath by comparing them to Arrested Development or Louie. Dismissing a comedy by comparing it to two of television’s greatest comedy series is a rather odd way to express dissatisfaction, but Warren is not interested in the quality of the comedy, but the method of its execution: “I don’t think they’re necessarily funny in a way that’s unique to games,”  he says. “The game’s writers or designers are the ones writing and telling the jokes. You just sit back and relax.” He continues to posit that this is not case with Goat Simulator, saying that Goat Simulator has now established precedent for “interactive humor that completely relies on the player.” The remainder of the video is essentially just Warren praising the lack of scripted elements (be it narrative, dialogue, etc.) in Goat Simulator, while making a series of extremely problematic, hypocritical, or otherwise reductive arguments and comparisons that wrongfully idolizes Goat Simulator as work of utopian player-centricism, dismissing the importance of the author and an entire history of comedic games.

Continue reading