Grad Research: Carrie Andersen on Slapstick Comedy and Octodad at Kill Screen

Ph.D. student Carrie Andersen has a piece up over at Kill Screen on slapstick comedy, video games, and Octodad (a video game about a “loving father, caring husband, secret octopus”).


Here’s a taste:

The game centers on the patriarch of an excruciatingly normal family. But said patriarch is secretly an octopus, forced to hide his true identity. Maintaining secrecy is easier said than done: octopi cannot navigate land so gracefully, we learn, and so Octodad wobbles around like a baby deer learning to walk. Think Being John Malkovich meets QWOP meets The Coneheads.

That physical ineptitude is the focal point of Octodad’s comedy. Octodad is a “hard-to-control, awkward mess of a character,” according to John Murphy, a developer for Young Horses, Inc.

According to Murphy, Octodad drew its inspiration from unintentional comedic classics like the PC disaster Jurassic Park: Trespasser, released in 1998. To say this game was overhyped would be an understatement. Meant to be a companion for the 1997 film The Lost World: Jurassic Park, the game’s development occurred in concert with Steven Spielberg himself and Minnie Driver, who voiced the main character. But even Spielberg was an insufficient force to rescue Trespasser from mediocrity and buggy-ness. The game “was supposed to revolutionize AI and games and physics, but it ended up being this weird, accidentally hilarious thing.”

As it turns out, accidental hilarity is ripe for scholarly analysis. Check out the full article here.