I love jokes that involve clever wordplay. Whether it’s a fun pun, a side poke from a “dad joke”, some admiration of an alliteration, or an endearing idiom, I get a kick out of them whether I’m giving or receiving. I’m not sure where my love for such jokes that make other people cringe or groan came from, but growing up playing Runescape no doubt had a part in it. The British blokes at Jagex have a knack at throwing them in whenever they get a chance. Whether it’s in an examine description, an Easter egg that might go unnoticed, or perhaps a bit of dialog that breaks the fourth wall – they really have a way with wordplay (sorry, I honestly can’t help myself).
The source of Runescape’s jokes is firmly planted in the fact that they are a British company. England has a long history of wordplay, innuendos, and deadpan delivery in their comedy TV shows and literature. It goes all the way back to William Shakespeare and perhaps beyond. In fact, Shakespeare is credited with creating, if not at least mastering, many forms of wordplay through metaphors and clever writing throughout his works. As a culture reads and studies such works in school, the British have entrenched themselves in such witty and backhanded humor. You can’t talk about British humor without mentioning Monty Python, who are perhaps seen as the gold standard of British comedy. Their use of deadpan humor, satire, innuendos, absurd continuity, and just overall zaniness puts them at the pinnacle of punchlines (gah, sorry again). Runescape pays homage to Monty Python in many ways; numerous lines of dialog is taken from their work, Easter eggs when using items, and general themes throughout quests. Probably the most famous is when using a herring on a tree, in which the chatbox will read “This is not the mightiest tree in the forest!” which is referencing their most popular film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I could write an entire article on all the Monty Python references in RS, but I’ll save that for some other time.
So, you get a culture that enjoys smart witty humor that requires quick thinking. Sometimes the delivery is so well that it takes some time to sink in. Dad jokes are notorious for that. If you aren’t sure what a “dad” joke is, firstly, I’m sorry that your dad wasn’t cool enough to tell you them and secondly, they are just corny or “bad” jokes that often have a subtle reference or double meaning. I’m going to say that most examine texts in game are actually just these kinds of jokes…AND I LOVE IT. For example, if you examine a blue cape it reads “like a red cape, but blue”. That’s not helpful, but it sure is funny. If you examine the horse shoe rack in a blacksmith’s shop it reads “These would make fine shoes for… um… unicorns” which pokes fun at the fact that there are no horses in RS. Again, not helpful, but good for at least a smile. Remember the Christmas event a while back when Santa Clause was locked up and you needed to do the event to free him? Santa was locked in Nicklaus’ Cage (Ok, that was definitely facepalm worthy). I could literally list a thousand of these, but the fact that these made it in game and are so prevalent could just be why I have stuck with this game for so long. Runescape is a game that is casual enough where these sorts of things can exist and not lose anything from it. The player base has come to expect these little jokes around every corner and it can take you years and years just to try to find them all. I literally just walk around sometimes examining things just to see the level of detail and jokes that I can find.
I guess that’s what it comes down to and why Runescape is so endearing to so many of us. RS doesn’t take itself too serious. It’s like any other online multiplayer, but their unique brand of comedy and jokes sprinkled here there and everywhere makes us remember this one so fondly. One could even argue that’s why so many people that leave eventually come back. They remember the little things like these silly jokes even years later and smile. The game creators at Jagex make Runescape a game that they would want to play; filled with proper British humor, dry wit, puns aplenty, satirical takes on pop culture, and topped with good ol’ corny jokes. I guess you could call them joke crammer programmers, because it’s all puns in game on Runescape (I’m so so sorry…).