Humor, It’s a Tricky Beast to Handle

I hadn’t heard earlier about Achmed the Dead Terrorist, and after watching one show (which by the way has 117 million youtube views, cough, 117 million) I started thinking how difficult it is to do any comedy stuff – if you don’t want to offend anyone.

If you have a character called “a dead terrorist” who talks this and that, chances are you are insulting somebody.

If you make jokes about different countrymen… you’ll mock somebody.

In fact, unless you are mocking yourself with jokes… chances are you are offending somebody else. Possibly.

One indie developer is doing game about private parts. That will most likely offend somebody. There’s all sort of humor going on in games (and inside game dev teams).

Some people think that “hey, if you are offended by this – go to other room”. It’s like everything should be tolerated… since “it’s just humor”. But is it so? Is it so that everybody should tolerate the guy who makes the worst jokes in a game dev team?

Is it okay to present offensive stuff and make jokes about it? How offensive is fine?

Where and how do you draw the line?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. I’ve learned to regulate things that offend me to the ‘not worth getting worked up about’ category. Like bathroom humor, instead of getting offended by it, I just figure that the people who use just aren’t smart enough to come up with better jokes. And then ignore it/them. Hence why I seldom watch comedies, most have little real humor in them.

    All that does make me sad, humor is one of my favorite things. It’s disappointing that most people don’t put any effort into it, and just default to jokes about sex or poop.

    Just look at XKCD, or any of the gamer humor webcomics, if you take out the sexual jokes, there’s a ton of good humor. Why don’t people come up with more like that?

  2. By default humor is offensive. You have to laugh at something/someone. And that one might get offended.
    In Romania we have something that’s called “Dry jokes”, like “Two children were counting one ball” or “What’s tiny, green and eats rocks? The tiny green rock eater”. But these jokes are funny because they are so stupid and work well in high-stress conditions when anything can make you snap and go in a laughing frenzy.
    The thing is that real life is different from games. If someone comes in the room where I am and starts saying all sort of stuff, I might get offended and ask him to leave. But with games, nobody forces you to buy them. For every game there are reviews, gameplay videos, even rating systems on the box. You can’t say you haven’t been warned. So if you’re offended by body parts, don’t buy a game about body parts, go get “My happy pony in wonderland, part 16: the return of the happy pink-ish rainbow”. The opposite is also true, maybe I’m offended by talking ponies and pink rainbows…

  3. Q: Is it okay to present offensive stuff and make jokes about it?
    A: Yes. Lumooja said it all.

    Q: How offensive is fine?
    A: I think about it like the right price for a game. Most fans will buy it for 1 buck – high sales, small profit/copy. Only a few will by it for 100 bucks – few sales, great income/copy.

    Q: Where and how do you draw the line?
    A: My sense of humor isn’t for everyone, especially not for youngsters :) I’m trying to lower the “nice-and-friendly-talk” bar slowly during conversations. When the percentage of leaving women reaches 50% I’m going to stop… or go on and have big laughs with the left guys :)

    Finally it’s a shoot-out of audience. Sharper jokes may wipe out the faint-hearted but also may give a feeling of identification and reflection to others.

    Breadth vs. Depth

  4. Basically everyone can get offended by anything. Sometimes more people get offended by some commonly known thing, but it doesn’t really change anything, since if someone gets offended he gets offended and he is not counting how many others are. So you can’t do anything to stop people from getting offended. Someone might get offended if you don’t say anything :)

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