Mirth is perhaps the most difficult reaction for a videogame to elicit from a player. Timing is the essence of comedy, and when a player controls time, it becomes difficult for a game maker to establish the rhythm necessary for a successful joke. American-born Tim Schafer has succeeded where many others have failed, establishing himself as the comedic star of videogame writing. His many releases are considered some of the funniest ever created.
Schafer’s first position in the videogames industry was at LucasArts as a tester on the early Indiana Jones games, before working as a writer and programmer on The Secret of Monkey Island (1990). While waiting for a final game script, Schafer inserted humorous quips into the dialogue as placeholders. Designer Ron Gilbert was convinced by the quality of the writing to change the initially serious game into a comedy, after which it became one of the best-loved adventure titles ever created.
Schafer continued to work on LucasArts adventure games, directing classics such as Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle (1993), Full Throttle (1995) and Grim Fandango (1998) for the studio. He left in 2000 to found his own studio, Double Fine Productions, the first release being the cult classic Psychonauts (2005).
In 2009, Schafer revisited his passion for cars and rock music when working with actor-comedian Jack Black on the heavy metal-themed action adventure Brütal Legend (2009).
In recent times, Double Fine has shifted development away from blockbuster releases to smaller, downloadable titles, releasing a clutch of critically acclaimed games including Costume Quest (2010), Stacking (2011), and Iron Brigade (2011). Continuing his playful approach to game development, Schafer’s latest game is the absurdly fun Double Fine Happy Action Theatre (2012) for Kinect.