THE ADVENT CALENDER – 16TH DECEMBER

Scary Games, but are they?

Gaming has always been a difficult genre to make into true pant wetingly scary output. Take the film industry which has your attention and also your obedience as you cannot impact the outcome of the film can you, they have you locked into their story and through expert use of sound, visuals and our emotions can make you quite honestly leap out of your seat.

gaming has a difficult time with this, if only due to its inability to lock you so you have no option but to submit. games give you weapons, armour, power ups etc that make you feel protected and therefore not helpless.

This obviously comes with a few exceptions, in Aliens Vs Predator, in one particular level, you have no gun and no defence against some rouge face huggers who have escaped, I remember being TERRIFIED as I had to dodge these things scampering around the map. Truly scary as no matter what I did I couldn’t fight back.

Games try to tap into the side of our brain that reacts to stimulus around us, the fight or flight part of our brain is hard wired into our bodies to take over the body’s control from the rational side of our brain when needed to preserve the body whole. Erie music, odd sounds using technology to give the impression they are behind us all add up to giving the impression ‘we are at risk’ this then activates the part of our brain that gets scared, this heightens the human senses and then it’s pretty much autopilot from that point on.

Games try hard to tap into this but it does take a particular type of person to engage correctly with this engineering situation. Often certain age and personality groups just won’t be able to suspend their disbelief as to what is happening and this causes issues all round to the games makers.

Games like Amnesia have come as close as they can to a fully engineered situation that terrifies like a film would but even then, it was patchy and sometimes came across as twee.
So in conclusion, often it takes many different things to ‘scare’ a player in a game, it could be a simple as a book flying off a book case, or the hiss of a creeper stood behind a miner, what I would say is each day and with each game we see, it’s getting better and better.