Benign trials, vexing violations: Reading humour in puzzle games

Wyatt Moss-Wellington, Paul Martin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review


Researchers in several felds have noted similarities between humour and
puzzles (Johnson 1975; Bergmann 1986; Heßler in this volume;
Karhulahti and Bonello Rutter Giappone 2021; Bower and Steyvers
2020). These discussions usually draw upon incongruity theories of
humour to argue for this parallel, with the joke’s set-up/punchline structure being homologous to the puzzle’s problem/solution structure. These
structures also serve a similar function in introducing and then (partially
or wholly) resolving incongruity. In this chapter, we argue that benign
violation theory (hereafter BVT), which defines in greater detail the sorts
of incongruity that lead to humour, can extend and deepen analyses of the
joke-puzzle connection in video games
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVideo Games and Comedy
EditorsTomasz Z. Majkowski, Jaroslav Švelch, Krista Bonello Rutter Giappone
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9783030883386
ISBN (Print)9783030883379
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Comedy


  • Benign violation theory
  • Braid
  • Limbo
  • Puzzles
  • Riddles
  • Platform game
  • Indie game


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