The issue with “Dark Humour”, specifically in Games

So, I played Still There today and it honestly was great. I heard good things about the stories and the puzzles in that game and frankly, I figured it’d be a good game to stream on Twitch (it was), so I finally gave it a try.

What put me initially on edge, though, was that the game (and I quote) has “dark humour” in it.

My issue with dark humour is that it isn’t exactly always executed well. Especially in games, I noticed that often, developers will put stuff in their games that end up just going too far for no reason in particular. I mean, frankly, the whole topic is quite difficult to execute well… so I’m naturally on the fence about it – and that takes away from the experience.

I believe that this whole thing is so difficult because of the nature of dark humour and the way that people understand it most of the time.

Frankly, “dark humour” is described as humour that makes light of topics that are hard to discuss or that are considered to be “taboos” that you can’t joke about.

Naturally, there are people that think it’s okay to joke about everything. Other people think that only people that are part of specific groups of people can joke about those people… and then there are people that just think that it’s not okay to joke about everything.

Personally, I think that it’s a mix of everything there. “I could make jokes about unemployed people but those just never work” – and I think that’s fine since unemployment is less of a taboo to talk about.

But once you get to more controversial topics, it’s easy to look like a complete bigot when you talk shit about specific groups, then don’t get a reaction, and then try to play it down as a joke.

I noticed that a lot of comedians nowadays try to make up this narrative that you can’t say everything in 2022 and that they’re “brave” for doing exactly so. At the same time, when people get “de-platformed” or “cancelled” for remarks they made, there are people that actively support them because of this notion of “cancel culture” and “political correction” being bad.


ContraPoints is a LeftTube essayist channel that talks about a lot of issues. They make a lot of trans jokes but they’re trans themselves.
Dave Chappelle got under fire for using transphobic and homophobic rhetoric during his comedy special that, according to him, were jokes.

The difference here is that ContraPoints is trans and Dave is not.

ContraPoints has experience in the topic and knows exactly why a joke is funny or where the line is… At the same time, Chappelle is essentially just pandering to transphobes and other bigots, excusing harmful rhetoric and trying to turn it into a joke by making use of the “shock factor” aka the “Oh, no, he said that. I can’t believe it” phenomenon.

In the end, the reason why CP doing it is okay is that she knows more about the topic. Chappelle doing it isn’t okay, not because he’s cis but rather because he’s just being bigoted and using transphobic stereotypes and rhetoric.

Anyway, in games, you can’t really put in the necessary nuance to make something “dark” and also be “funny”. At least, I haven’t really seen it executed well so far – and that’s an issue. You end up with titles where you mention something as a side note, trying to be funny… but it just comes across as bigoted. In “Still There”, it doesn’t really happen… or rather, a lot of it is so tame that I don’t really get why they added it in the first place.

I don’t know. I find it hard to execute dark humour well. Most of the time, there’s this fine line that people can’t seem to find. And that’s a bummer… and yet a lot of devs want to put it in regardless when it really doesn’t help people enjoy their stuff, at least in my opinion. It’s either too tame to notice (and thus unnecessary) or it’s too much and just feels hateful (and thus unnecessary) – at least in my experience.

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken. If you like what you see here and want to see more, you can check me out on Twitch and YouTube as well.

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