Reality Check - Why do horror games scare us?
This week Cam investigates the ways in which horror games exploit our innate human biology to cause fear.
by Cameron Robinson on
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Flex those mental muscles and join Cam Robinson on a journey of discovery in Reality Check, the show that investigates the science behind your favourite games, and spawns a few wild theories of its own.
Schedule: Thursdays at 12pm PT
Host: Cameron Robinson
Very good episode. I will say though, nothing has every truly replicated that moment in Resident Evil 1 when the dog jumped through the window in the hallway. Frightful without gruesomeness.
You forgot a few things though... Well I understand this is a short show but hey, why not add this in the fray:
Atmosphere, appearance, you know, things and places that frighten you
Areas can be scary just by it's features, let's say... A padded room, that place can be scary and it can only have a bunch of fluffy mattresses around the area, now why it can be scary is...Well if you look at the rooms, they have...Basically only that, and if it's a small room, that can make you feel like "The walls are closing in..." ala claustrophobia. What could also be in the room is...Darkness, you don't see anything, you don't know what is in the area, and you can't see anything, and that can be terrifying (Like hell, I am in the dark and frightened). Even objects or paint, like blood with some bloody knives or chainsaws, you get the feeling that something terrible happened in that room and thus: You don't want to be in that room. So size, interior, objects and lighting is all a factor here (Even a cheerful looking room can be scary to some)
Now appearance wise.... It could be easy to make something look scary, just slap some strange thing on something and give it an axe and whamo: You have a serial killer, but that's not all that there is to it. Even something like that could be considered as not-so-scary (For example I got a closer look at the enemies in Amnesia double D and I kind of found them funny looking...Aside from that pesky sword.. Especially when I happened to saw one's butt, then I lost all scare from them when they were up close and personal), and even the adorible can be seen as scary (Pikachoo scares me). Now why that would be in the first place is... Structure, something that looks... Unusual or anything, like I get frghtened of ghosts since they look really odd, and they can sometimes look really human... Apart from some blood or look really old or whatever... Also what is the motive of said figure: An alien can be creepy yes, but the real fright would come if it's wielding a laser rifle blasting everything in sight or is it an alien lord, coming to offer a very sexy daughter for breeding... If you are a Mass Effect or Star Wars' Twi'lek fan... So motive has a big part in it too
Anyway if you shall excuse me, a bed is calling me to hide in because I can't take it being in the dark for too long... Evil is shrowded by the darkness...
The first 10 minutes and last 15 minutes of Dead Space 2 are the best moments of the entire series -- glad you showed some of that.
I think the audio impacts on imagination are important as well -- the "I'll tear out your spine" warnings by the mother enemies in System Shock 2 were utterly chilling way-back-when.
So if i anesthasise my lower body, play Dead Space, Isaac gets stabbed then am i gonna feel that too? ..............THEN WHO NEEDS A VIRTUAL REALITY :)
I think those are like the generic aspects of every game because if you take for example "sound" to explain a fun game, if there is clapping or "yays" in a fictitious crowd, it makes you feel good, but I think there's a level deaper which creates a real horror game set apart from generic scares and that's psychological horror, when you purposely stress the mind of a player to a point that their not afraid so much of dieing as they are of not being able to do something under a terrifying situation, the perfect example here would be one that many games adapt and that's giving you an incredibly small amount of ammo or weapons, another is making you so easy to kill that you're actually afraid of your own existence in the game, and what really gets you scared is the fact that you are this way the whole time, therefore you're always tense thinking if i mess up even a little, I'm done for, and another psychological aspect would be the story, making a disturbing deep story that makes it all the worse to die and worse off if you manage to relate to it like the many stories and relations that are made and broken in silent hill games, and of course the atmosphere, this doesn't mean it has to be dark, it just means that the atmosphere has to go with the story, for instance take a silent hill game and make it so there's a ton of dark creatures and colorful stuff and visibility and lots of fun crazy fast pased music and blood flying everywhere and you shoot em up and so on and bam you just ruined the game and got another crappy game like Resident evil 6, but instead they made it fogy, hard to see, hard to manage cameras, pale colors, minimal creatures, not that much blood, in fact the creatures aren't even that detailed or incredibly creative they just have to represent exactly what you don't want to see, overall that would make a great horror game in my opinion.
What about Slenderman, the Drums in that game as well as the Ambiguity was one of the first games that gave me a true sense of fear for what was going to happen next.
Kick ass show mang! This is really the only reason why I still show up to Gamespot nowadays. Love your show, keep it up, I will keep coming back for more!
The best horror comes from a sense of frisson (as opposed to fight or flight). I have a feeling it's because we soon become desensitised to anything that creates a fight or flight response. I think there may actually be a sense of satisfaction in overcoming a horrific situation too... as opposed to a jump scare which only creates anxiety constantly wondering when it will happen again. And I sure as hell don't play PC games or watch movies just to feel anxious, that's what reality is for.
was that dead space 3 in which a thing bites him and he turns into one of them???? please tell me i have not played deaad space 3 yet....
Thanks for another great show, Cam.
That talk of mirror neurons is some crazy shit. Adds a bit more weight to the saying 'monkey see, monkey do'.
yet another amazing episode. really interesting stuff I would never even think to look up. thanks for sharing ;)
love this show! putting research data before impending screams initiated the forewarning mechanism, leaving me more shytless :P
Hey everybody. I love this series- I know its been said. I just had to step in from the insanity over at the GTA5 comment board for a dose awesomeness. This thing is just so well done, thought out and intelligent. As a life long nerd (MD) I love it. I feel like this is what gaming culture really is about.
This series, and similar great ones (the point is so good! And feedbackula is an obvious crowd pleaser) is my number 1 reason why GS >>> IGN. That and I just can't let go of the mass effect terribleness. Sorry for bringing that up I still have some crazy on me from the aforementioned comment board.
Good episode. Wish you had tons of other game footage though. Dead Space is creepy and awesome, but man! This subject gives the opportunity to go through so many great moments (tension build-up, sounds, horrible warnings, whatever you want could be found in Silent Hill).
Anyways, great work, but please ask for more budget and help so you can squeeze all the potential of your show. We'll keep watching, promised.
I find jump scares highly annoying and usually rate films and games that rely on it low. I prefere story and context. That's the mark of a masterpiece -beeing able to make you be afraid to go to the bathroom without making your ears explode due to high pitched sounds.
@CommanderTy Do you watch Adventure Time?
@spideyj08 A textbook response. ;-)
@Grenadeh indeed 1 and 2
I also like to pretend 3 never ever happened ... ever
@jhonel83 Couldn't agree more. It's annoying though because there are so few well written horror movies or games that I'm hardly ever scared by anything fictional. The Woman in Black I thought was quite good to be honest. Made me scared shitless to even look at my reflection in the mirror.