i made a joke that happened to be a video game

The Project

SPOOKY SELFIE is a playable joke released in February '15. People have:

  • played this joke over 70'000 times.
  • downloaded the joke about 2'000 times.
  • recorded 2-6 minute let's plays of the joke.
  • written about this joke in Kotaku, Rock Paper Shotgun and various non-english speaking sites.
  • liked the joke so much that they gave me money??

the work

I literally made this in four hours with some stuff from the asset store and Playmaker. It was a sunday afternoon when I got so bored right after a period of crunch that I decided to make something.

I updated it twice for quality of life issues:

  • added ability to add/remove cursor lock for web build
  • added ZQSD for azerty keyboards because apparently french people liked the joke too and I saw someone complain about it.
Aren't We All

What I learned

Oh boy. You're actually here, huh? You wanna know what I learned from making this joke. So, this is the thing.

The weeks right after I made and released Spooky Selfie, no, wait, sorry, SPOOKY SELFIE was one of the weirdest moments in my life. Watching this joke suddenly become popular is absolutely fascinating because actually using video game PURELY as a mechanism to deliver a joke is a super weird problem. Writing jokes is theoretically simple but how is that translated to video games? What makes a mechanic 'funny'?

Playful, absurd interactions. Comedy from self-performance. Laughing at oneself and one's actions. From this tiny game, it seems to me that these are the roots of an actual comedy video game, especially if we don't want to be self-referrential and focus on comedy that's only funny to people who understands the language of video games. Of course, the joke contained in this videogame comes twofold: From the absurdity of everyday interaction taken to an illogical conclusion of taking pictures of yourself after you have died and from stupid skeleton memes.

Both seems to be what pushed it to become that little bit viral. Memes are ultimately a form of cultural touchstones for generations who grew up with the internet around them. It makes the joke relatable and likely reminds a player of friends who share the same cultural touchstones and make them more likely to share it. The absurdity, the core joke, pierces through language barriers. 

Side note: Watching let's plays of this joke is actually really funny. Primarily because you see what kind of people they are and just how long the joke actually stays funny for them. The ones who realy like the joke end up exploring the space, jumping out the graveyard after wondering if they can do so and fall into the void. I never placed a kill collider. They can just take selfies in the void as they fall. The ride never ends.