If there’s something strange in your neighbo(u)rhood… who you gonna call? Don’t call anyone. Just stay indoors and read this month’s entries for Blogs of the Round Table until the weirdness subsides. We care about your safety.
This month’s theme was Fear and Loathing in Game Spaces:
“Since their inception, games have explored that most primal of human emotions: fear. Whether it’s shambling zombies, ghosts, relentless killers or arachnophobia, we’ve never been short of scares. Some can’t stand horror games, while others thrive on them.
Are games uniquely suited to instil fear in the player, beyond a film or a Stephen King novel? Does your skin crawl at the mere thought of being scared, or do you relish the surge of adrenaline? Have you ever been scared or felt uncomfortable in a game that wasn’t intended to make you feel that way?”
Christopher Floyd writes about the fear of death, specifically dealing with the consequences of death Silent Hill: Downpour and the tangible loss of a squad member in XCOM: Enemy Unknown rather than the death of the player character.
Peter Shafer talks about how horror games force us to look on, unable to cover our eyes unlike if we were watching a scary movie. Silent Hill again! It’s times like this I almost wish I owned a Playstation instead of a Saturn. Actually, that’s the real stuff of nightmares.
Cha Holland conquers her fear of the sadomasochistic platform game VVVVVV and its infamous ‘Doing Things the Hard Way’ section. It’s good to know someone finished that bit.
Shawn Trautman introduces us to Andrew Shouldice’s lo-fi indie horror game Hide, which was released before Slender and makes the latter seem like an… interesting homage. The fear of being pursued without hope of escape is quite prevalent in other indie horror games, like SCP: Containment Breach.
Kim Shier points out the difference between the “armchair apocalypse” of cinema and the active participation of video games. However, this actively leads to greater emotional investment, as with The Walking Dead, where tensions comes from making a bad choice in a world packed full of bad choices.
Cameron Kunzleman’s expansive Designing Horror series covers a lot of interesting indie horror games I’d never even heard of before. It’s been running for the past couple of months and is well worth taking an hour or two to read through all of the entries. Possibly before sunset.
Marc Price was so scared by Resident Evil as a child that he embarrassed himself in front of his mother. Better than wetting yourself in a shopping centre, I guess. Now he laments the death of the survival horror genre with new action-focused titles like Resident Evil 6 and Dead Space 3. Yet if there’s one genre that can rise from the dead and walk the Earth, it surely must be survival horror.
Richard Moss revisits his childhood fear of crowds with At the Carnival. Is it just me, or is there something inherently creepy about those screenshots, phobia or not?
Nathan Blades compares the demonic shopping mall of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey with the real-world horrors of the London riots. He goes on to talk about Westfield Stratford: I’ve been there too, and let me tell you, the queues in that Primark are nothing short of terrifying.
Cody Steffen offers an omnibus of his experiences with horror games. Like Kim, Cody explores the idea of heightened interactivity keeping our eyes fixed on the television instead of cowering behind the sofa.
Eric Swain has been writing about horror games all month at PopMatters (and now that I’ve mentioned it, hopefully he’ll stick a link in his blog) and sees them as more thought-provoking than other games: not just those annoying chess piece puzzles in Resident Evil 2, but because players are “complicit in their own fear.”
Nathan Altice argues, very convincingly, that Silent Hill 2 understands temporal horror and the slow psychological buildups that are more effective than monsters bursting out of closets. How bad of a port Silent Hill HD Collection? I really want to play SH2. There is no punchline here. It’s a serious question.
John Brindle takes a different angle on the topic with a look at ‘The Political Uses of Fear’ (trigger warning for street harassment, passing anxiety, rape culture). As well as fear for fear’s sake, the more ‘everyday’ horror of a game like Hey Baby or Lim can be far more terrifying than the mutant freaks of Dead Space, because those are nightmares from which we can’t awake.
Bonus I Can’t Believe It’s Not BoRT Halloween Content: Craig and I played the point-n-click-n-jump horror game The House 2 for Split Screen and recorded a video. Contains very strong language, mostly from me.
There is a small chance I may have missed an entry due to paranormal activity. If your entry isn’t listed here, you haven’t been snubbed- please email me or send me a message on Twitter and I’ll add it to our roundup.
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