The gap between gaming as a medium to be taken seriously and lightly has been narrowing in many storytelling genres. We can find well scripted humor in the midst in contextual-placement of the player in games like Portal or The Stanley Parable, drama in actions that we choose to do or are helpless in preventing in The Last of Us or Bioshock Infinite, or walk through the blackness of our paranoia in Amnesia or Slender Man. What’s interesting though is that other mediums like movies had an extremely rough time getting the average story in a game to not feel forced or that the campiness from genre films hasn’t particularly translated well in gaming as of yet.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a difference between campiness and cliché, and it’s easy to spot one over the other. Cliché is taking what we’re used to and regurgitating it back to us in a form that we are already used to seeing. Campy is taking what we’re used to and being almost self-referential to it by exaggerating the parts that make it campy. I don’t mean self-referential like some side-character saying “Do you think this is a game?” or “What kind of game do you think this it?” because this is already a cliché and completely un-original. The idea of the campy-self-referential is that you make the cliché feel original. Being campy isn’t a bad thing either. Campiness worked in the reboot of 21/22 Jump Street, Hot Tub Time Machine and the more recent Guardians of the Galaxy.