UX & Game Designer
Buttttuch

During undergraduate, I took a course called "Advanced Game Design" taught by Brian Schrank. The course was intended to give junior students a chance to design games outside of their comfort zone and practice for capstone, where we were expected to work on one game for two semesters on one project. For the second project in that class, we were asked to design and prototype a comedy game, and from that prompt "Buttttuch" was born.

Buttttuch is a game where you play a man checking out at a grocery store that really wants to pump his fist into a jar of pudding without being noticed by the girl ringing him up.

That idea was formed in response to the professor's insistence that our games attempt to be funny through the game itself and not through elements that could exist in another medium. In Schrank's mind, there were two general categories for humor, contextual and physical. There had been a few successful physical comedy games in his mind (Goat Simulator, Surgeon Simulator) but there were no obvious examples of games that were successful in contextual comedy. Specifically, there are games that have funny dialogue or characters, but rarely are the actions the player can take funny without being physically funny i.e. Psychonaut's dialogue is funny but Psychonauts platforming isn't. As a counter-example, the closet joke in The Stanley Parable is funny both because of the dialogue and because the player is partaking in the act themselves. The act of standing in a closet for no reason is funny (I'm clearly ruining the jokes).

Considering all that, we wanted to design essentially a sketch comedy scene where the player can participate in something that's contextually funny. In our case, violently shoving your hand in a jar of pudding is also funny, so we were only partially sucessful there.