Perhaps in my 25 years of life, I’ve just become jaded.
And maybe it has a lot to do with the fact that horror doesn’t scare me EVER, or maybe the fact that I only WATCHED the game on youtube as opposed to experiencing it firsthand, but once again the hype built by the internet surrounding a game-and much like Slender, a “SCARY” (in quotes to ensure perspective) game-really let me down. Unlike Slender, which had been run into the ground and sold to Hot Topic in the form of t-shirts by the time it came out (and only ever REALLY utilized well by Marble Hornets, frankly) I will give credit where credit is due. The premise of 5 Nights At Freddy’s is frickin fantastic. There’s no doubt about that. I mean, we all remember those animatronic things from Chuck E. Cheese’s right? THEY ARE TERRIFYING, DUDE. And as much as I WANT to attack the game for not letting you go anywhere else in it except the room you start in, I also think that’s part of what makes it fantastic. While being allowed to free roam would be interesting, the fact that there IS no real safety and you CAN’T go anywhere makes it even creepier.
But the thing is it’s all jumpscares. And while that may work for some people, it’s not “scary” in the real sense. And that’s a problem I have with a lot of games branded under the “horror” genre, and like I said I’m sure half the problem is on me for not being scared by anything considered “horror” but it is also starting to make me wonder about the validity of the genre in gaming itself. Can a game really be scary? I mean SCARY. Like what people consider The Exorcist to be. I’ve played my fair share of horror games, and as ashamed as I am to admit this, I was a kid when I played Resident Evil: Survivor (which is widely considered the worst game in the ‘series’) but it made me have nightmares. Why? CAUSE I WAS LIKE 9. But after I grew up and stopped being a little bitch, I played other horror games:
- Dead Space
- Silent Hill 2
- Silent Hill Homecoming
- Silent Hill The Room
- Resident Evil Zero
- Resident Evil 6
- L4D & Bioshock (if you wanna consider those horror)
- Dead Island (?)
- Walking Dead (?)
- Dead Rising
Some of those are hard to say if they’re REALLY “horror”, but Silent Hill (though The Room is a BRILLIANT concept) and Dead Space are the ones people consider terrifying, and that’s what brings me to this. Dead Space and Silent Hill are VERY comparable in the sense of atmosphere. They definitely utilize it well to build an uneasy feeling, but then all the “terror” moments are, again, jumpscares. Is that the only thing horror gaming can BE? And I’m legitimately asking because I think it IS; I mean gaming is an interactive activity and jumpscares definitely are a way to scare someone deeply focused on the product the way people are while gaming. It makes sense. But it’s not what I’d consider “horror” at all.
It just makes me wonder if the horror genre in gaming really exists. But horror is an odd genre even outside of gaming, mostly because much like humor, it’s a VERY subjective genre. I mean what some people find funny others find absurd or stupid, and same with horror. While jumpscares don’t make ME feel scared, they certainly scare the living doo doo out of other people. That’s the ONLY reason Paranormal Activity can be considered a success. It HAS to be, because otherwise that means giving the people who made it artistic credit and I’m sorry, I’m just NOT about to do that.
So, can gaming be scary?
Or should I just keep reading Pokemon Creepypasta?
Maggie Wiland is a 25 y/o transgirl. She wanted to do something productive for a living, but has now been resigned to bitching about video games after realizing she is ultimately talentless in every other aspect of her life. She’s also been said to make a mean casserole. She also writes poetry on tumblr.