The very idea of a game based around Monty Python fills me with absolute dread.
A press release landed in our inbox over the weekend from ‘The Ministry of Silly Games’, and I’m still trying my darndest to uncurl my toes:
‘Created by leading, UK-based, social gaming company Zattikka in conjunction with the Monty Python team, The Ministry of Silly Games draws its inspiration from British TV’s most memorable comedy series in the form of an innovative new social game which enables players to play the world’s most ridiculous games within a Pythonesque virtual world on Facebook.
Games such as Camelot Smashalot, Gumby Flower Arranging and King Arthur’s Knight Fight, among many others, take place within the madcap Monty Python virtual world – and will be available to play for free when the game launches in Q1 next year.’
First off this isn’t an attack on Zattikka. We think they’ve done extraordinarily well to harness the powers of two of British comedy’s true greats, especially in a social gaming context. Untold riches await them if they get it spot on. A visit to Zattikka’s front page on Sunday morning though, and the first thing I saw was the following tweet: Not too happy with C4 cutting my interview on Monty Python game launch – ‘ too commercial – too much of a Zattikka advert’.
Oh the negativity. I need to underline something, I currently work in search marketing and all day I have to hear about how the social gaming scene is on the verge of explosion. How, if companies can harness the lingo consistently enough, they can reach an audience of potentially billions on Facebook et al.
Zzz. As far as I can see Zattikka’s Python coup has already got them halfway there – and isn’t the point of it to be a Zattikka advert anyway? To put their name in the shop window and grab a massive slice of the social gaming pie before this ‘explosion’? It can’t all be about Python, it has to be about Zattikka and their abilities as developers first and foremost if they’re to survive as a business.
I think what fills me with fear the most is that Python-esque humour is going to be unleashed on a whole new audience of 11-14-year-olds who won’t understand it, adopt it and who simply won’t let the ‘funny’ die. Sometimes when I’m out in town I see drunk students falling over themselves laughing and quoting Python. They’re getting younger and younger by the pint.
I now associate Python with crap students who weren’t around when it was popular and still regard it as revolutionary. British comedy has moved on since Python and is more daring than ever (unless you count the likes of BBC’s Miranda), and to see it described as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘madcap’ in the same press release brings me close to tears.
Above: What Google Images throws up when you search for ‘drunk Monty Python’
No matter what platform it’s hosted on, whether social or console, things like this just simply don’t work. I present to you the Little Britain game and hold it to task. It’s the same philosophy as why games don’t translate to the big screen. Comedy and gaming are chalk and cheese, polar opposites. The only way comedy can work in gaming is if it’s original and well thought out. Rockstar’s character-based comedy in Grand Theft Auto IV and some of Red Dead’s side missions should be the beacon, the example for everyone else to follow.
“Monty Python is one of the most iconic comedy licenses around, but there has been no new material for over 20 years,” says Zattikka CEO Tim Chaney. “The Ministry of Silly Games will be transporting Monty Python into the 21st Century, with a totally new experience for their unique comedy that will delight old and new fans alike.”
That quote in the PR sums up my point. There has been no new material for over 20 years. Pleeeease Alias Gilliam and Jones, for the sake of the industry as a whole, do something original, developers! Inspire your target market and give them a new generation of catchphrases they can shout at each other when they have their first sip of Guinness at 16.
So, in closing, good luck Zattikka. But if I hit 40 and have to put up with a new breed of schmoozy twats shouting ‘HE’S NOT THE SAVIOUR, HE’S A VERY NAUGHTY BOY’ in my local then I’ll be the only one there who isn’t smiling. And I’ll let you know about it in no uncertain terms.