Are you scared yet?

Here, something that was never posted on gamespot.
 

 Are you? I’ve been a fan of the survival horror genre for a long time now. And let me tell you something, after spending countless hours crawling through sewers, shooting zombies in the head, escaping bears, walking around in my own nightmares… only one thing comes to my mind. I have seen this before and it’s not scary at all.
Breaking down the formula of a horror game or movie, what is it, that’s supposed to scare us? Most movies and games use a cheap trick, the basic element of surprise. You’re just walking through some corridor and suddenly BOOM! a monster pops out of nowhere! And you’re like “AHH!!”, pulling on the right trigger/R2 button. But that’s not scary. That’s not scary at all. It’s only a surprise, because you didn’t expect that particular monster in that particular place. Movies do the same thing. A girl brushes her hair with her eyes closed, opens her eyes, AND THERE IT IS! A GHOST IN THE MIRROR! Yeah… It’s pretty scary the first time you see it, but how many games like this are there? Dozens. Both FEAR games use this trick, Condemned, Silent Hills, Sirens, Biohazards (Resident Evil series)… The list goes on. I mean, at a certain point you can pretty much tell when the surprise will come. It’s like, ok here’s a dark corner, I bet something’s gonna jump at me from it. And it does…
Another thing both movies and games use to try and scare us is gore. Huge amounts of blood and guts flying all over the place. Zombies biting off flesh. The very image of a zombie, or a monster: big ugly, half-decomposed or skinless, maybe some limbs in surprising places. Well you’ve seen them monsters for sure. And you can’t say that they are not getting boring. Every monster I’ve seen in a game was old news. But the point here is, that gore and ugly stuff are not scary. They are gross. They are disgusting. May make your girlfriend wanna vomit. BUT, being grossed out is not the same thing as being scared.
Think about it. Have you ever been truly afraid while playing a video game? I think it happened to me once. And it wasn’t even a horror game. I’ll get to that later.
To get to the core of this, we have to establish what fear is. Fear is an emotion caused by an increase of adrenaline levels provoked by certain situations: situations (real or hypothetical) in which you feel that your safety, or the safety of somebody you love, is endangered. For example, I’m not scared when I see something disgusting or violent happen, nor when something unexpected happens. I’m scared when something

real

happens, and my brain classifies it as a potential threat. That’s why I was scared when 9/11 happened (a lot of tall buildings where I’m from) and why I wasn’t scared when people received anthrax in their mail (I don’t like classic heavy metal). What I’m getting at, is that only real threats can provide real fear.
What’s the connection to video games? Very simple. I will provide you with the best example I can think of. In the original FEAR, remember that part when you’re about to exit a building and suddenly Alma appears out of nowhere, time slows down, everything starts burning… she’s slowly walking towards you. Your first instinct is: shoot! So you start shooting at her in slow motion, and the bullets don’t slow her down…
Ok, that is a pretty scary moment, one of the few in video game history. And it’s exactly what I was talking about before: you think that when she finally reaches you – you will die (the character you control will die). But then, everything explodes and nothing happens. So you’re scared only for about 15 seconds. But in the end you don’t think “omg! I’m scared!”. You think “now THAT was freakin’ awesome!”
Now, you know what was a scary game for me? Fallout 3. Why? Because at some point it made me realize that this could actually happen in real life. It made me think, that all of what’s depicted in Fallout 3 could happen, and it wouldn’t take much. Just one crazy dictator pressing the red button. Can you imagine that? Well, you don’t have to, just play Fallout 3. That’s my whole point. Fallout 3 scared me on a different level. It scared me psychologically. Nothing supernatural going on in the game. No shock surprise tricks. Nothing like that. Yet somehow, it managed to scare the hell out of me.
You see, the survival horror games are just full of gimmicks, smoke and mirrors. They are entertaining, because they rise our adrenaline levels. Make us feel excited. But when you’re done with the game, you forget about it. So you killed a bunch of zombies. Meh. But with games like Fallout, it makes you think. It’s a different kind of fear. It crawls it’s way into your psyche and stays there.
And you know what? Making a game that has this kind of impact on people is a huge achievement. So I say scare us! But think outside the box, because zombies just don’t do the trick anymore.
30 Comments
31 Comments
Posted by TatsurouXIII

Here, something that was never posted on gamespot.
 

 Are you? I’ve been a fan of the survival horror genre for a long time now. And let me tell you something, after spending countless hours crawling through sewers, shooting zombies in the head, escaping bears, walking around in my own nightmares… only one thing comes to my mind. I have seen this before and it’s not scary at all.
Breaking down the formula of a horror game or movie, what is it, that’s supposed to scare us? Most movies and games use a cheap trick, the basic element of surprise. You’re just walking through some corridor and suddenly BOOM! a monster pops out of nowhere! And you’re like “AHH!!”, pulling on the right trigger/R2 button. But that’s not scary. That’s not scary at all. It’s only a surprise, because you didn’t expect that particular monster in that particular place. Movies do the same thing. A girl brushes her hair with her eyes closed, opens her eyes, AND THERE IT IS! A GHOST IN THE MIRROR! Yeah… It’s pretty scary the first time you see it, but how many games like this are there? Dozens. Both FEAR games use this trick, Condemned, Silent Hills, Sirens, Biohazards (Resident Evil series)… The list goes on. I mean, at a certain point you can pretty much tell when the surprise will come. It’s like, ok here’s a dark corner, I bet something’s gonna jump at me from it. And it does…
Another thing both movies and games use to try and scare us is gore. Huge amounts of blood and guts flying all over the place. Zombies biting off flesh. The very image of a zombie, or a monster: big ugly, half-decomposed or skinless, maybe some limbs in surprising places. Well you’ve seen them monsters for sure. And you can’t say that they are not getting boring. Every monster I’ve seen in a game was old news. But the point here is, that gore and ugly stuff are not scary. They are gross. They are disgusting. May make your girlfriend wanna vomit. BUT, being grossed out is not the same thing as being scared.
Think about it. Have you ever been truly afraid while playing a video game? I think it happened to me once. And it wasn’t even a horror game. I’ll get to that later.
To get to the core of this, we have to establish what fear is. Fear is an emotion caused by an increase of adrenaline levels provoked by certain situations: situations (real or hypothetical) in which you feel that your safety, or the safety of somebody you love, is endangered. For example, I’m not scared when I see something disgusting or violent happen, nor when something unexpected happens. I’m scared when something

real

happens, and my brain classifies it as a potential threat. That’s why I was scared when 9/11 happened (a lot of tall buildings where I’m from) and why I wasn’t scared when people received anthrax in their mail (I don’t like classic heavy metal). What I’m getting at, is that only real threats can provide real fear.
What’s the connection to video games? Very simple. I will provide you with the best example I can think of. In the original FEAR, remember that part when you’re about to exit a building and suddenly Alma appears out of nowhere, time slows down, everything starts burning… she’s slowly walking towards you. Your first instinct is: shoot! So you start shooting at her in slow motion, and the bullets don’t slow her down…
Ok, that is a pretty scary moment, one of the few in video game history. And it’s exactly what I was talking about before: you think that when she finally reaches you – you will die (the character you control will die). But then, everything explodes and nothing happens. So you’re scared only for about 15 seconds. But in the end you don’t think “omg! I’m scared!”. You think “now THAT was freakin’ awesome!”
Now, you know what was a scary game for me? Fallout 3. Why? Because at some point it made me realize that this could actually happen in real life. It made me think, that all of what’s depicted in Fallout 3 could happen, and it wouldn’t take much. Just one crazy dictator pressing the red button. Can you imagine that? Well, you don’t have to, just play Fallout 3. That’s my whole point. Fallout 3 scared me on a different level. It scared me psychologically. Nothing supernatural going on in the game. No shock surprise tricks. Nothing like that. Yet somehow, it managed to scare the hell out of me.
You see, the survival horror games are just full of gimmicks, smoke and mirrors. They are entertaining, because they rise our adrenaline levels. Make us feel excited. But when you’re done with the game, you forget about it. So you killed a bunch of zombies. Meh. But with games like Fallout, it makes you think. It’s a different kind of fear. It crawls it’s way into your psyche and stays there.
And you know what? Making a game that has this kind of impact on people is a huge achievement. So I say scare us! But think outside the box, because zombies just don’t do the trick anymore.
Posted by pause422

I think at this moment in time, to me anyway, video games just arent real enough to feel scary in any way. And trust me, I really dont want video games to ever feel so real...I want video games to be that, GAMES, that are fun. I like plenty of horror games, and I like ones that can do a good atmosphere and give you some feelings of uneasiness. Ive never been scared of anything in a game though, ever. I think eventually they could get to that level, but it just has never happened for me. I immediately always reason Im just playing a game, and that is enough to make none of it seem real, or scary in any way.
 
I think a lot of horror games do the wrong thing though, so many just try to surprise people with monsters jumping in front of you surprising you, at the most making the player jump, or in my case, usually laugh. I think more people need to work on the atmosphere and sound design better to get that eerie bad feeling vibe moreso in the front of it, instead of relying on those little jumps and dark corners with things hiding in them and what not.
 
So end story- I dont think games are scary at all, and can really ever be unless they turn into something most of us dont want- for them to feel like they are just absolutely real in every sense, visually, and gameplay wise.

Posted by ryoma122

the one and only time i was ever scared of a game was resident evil 1 i was like six and i was scared very easy then  
but now i look at stuff and think well this cant happen so its not going to there for why should i waste my time being scared  
and in most horror games the jump out scares are lame at best now adays  and yeah when teams are making games   
they should think about the atmosphear and not how many jump scares they can fit into 15 mins of game play  
and they shouldnt follow the simple fact of theres a dark room lets have some ugly retard jump out of it
Posted by Pazy

I think its harder to do scary games than scary films since you have control over whats happening and you have no real sense of reprocution in a game (for example in Halo if you run headlong into a brute and die, you respawn and try again and again and again) but in a film the character is afraid of what might happen. If for example you have the classic image of someone phoning the character to tell them "I can see you", then they perhaps hear the door knob turn and see a shadow at the window it creates for for the character and they will run from it and hide because they are afraid of being killed (or similer) but in the same situation in a game my first instinct would be to go to the door to find out what/who is there since nothing bad can actually happen to me. Though some games make you feel weak and helpless (I think Clock Tower did it but ive never played it) and that means you want to run away it still dosent work the same way as a film since you just respawn and do it again.

Perhaps the way that Forbidden Siren did it is the way forward, it made you helpless and the only way to know where an enemy was is to see from their point of view which makes you unable to move (while your seeing through there eyes) which makes you even more helpless. That is one of the ways I see horror games working which is to make the player feel helpess and to make the only way to proceed is to make them more helpless. Though that might be less fear and more that sort of "No..no.noo" thing you get if your character is wobbling over an edge or something.

I dont know if any of this post makes sense but ive typed it now, and side note: I dont play horror games or watch horror films...they scare me.

Posted by Jerr

Fear is a product of atmosphere and complex intellectual events to me. And inherently, as you have said, to cause a real disturbance you need realism. So naturally, anything supernatural to most people is going to not be scary. And this I find is exactly what the horror game developers base their games on, the supernatural. I think theres a place for these types of games, but I would consider them more thrillers or action titles than scary.

Posted by MasterOfPenguins_Zell

I saw a thing on TV about Zombie Fire Ants, and how these flies could infect the ants and make their heads fall off and they'll walk around still. So yeah, the idea of zombies is pretty real.

Posted by TatsurouXIII
@pause422 said:
" I think at this moment in time, to me anyway, video games just arent real enough to feel scary in any way. And trust me, I really dont want video games to ever feel so real...I want video games to be that, GAMES, that are fun."
I'm on the opposite, I'm waiting for games to become hyperreal, so that you can't tell that it's a game. It's an old cyberpunk fan's dream. Probably won't be even one bit as enjoyable as I'd like it to be though.
Posted by Mac

Thief 3 -> Shalebridge Cradle 
 
'Nuff said.
Posted by Akeldama

as soon as you said Silent Hill was in the same category as FEAR for using cheap scares, you lost all credibility. Nice try.

Posted by TatsurouXIII
@Akeldama said:
" as soon as you said Silent Hill was in the same category as FEAR for using cheap scares, you lost all credibility. Nice try. "
Yeah they are completely different games, but they both operate on the same basic concept. Silent Hill is much better executed, but the foundation for both is the same.
Posted by FlamingHobo

The only game I've ever been truely "scared" by, was Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. This was due to the fact I was in a strange town, with no weapons to defend myself with and the people around me genuinely creeped me out. You go for a majority of the game without a weapon, and it isn't until you actually get your hands on one that the fear aspect of the game is somewhat lost. There is a segment of the game when you wake up in your hotel room to find the owner and two goons trying to break down your door, again you have nothing to defend yourself with. It was genuinely terrifying having to run from room to room, locking doors behind me and pushing drawers out of the way of blocked doors whilst I heard the crazy dudes breaking down the door to the room I was in.
 
Games such as F.E.A.R. did actually creep me out, but not on the same level as Call of Cthulhu, as I had the power to defend myself against some of the threats that surrounded me. If more games made a decision to make the player feel helpless, instead of making a monster jump out of the shadows and crying out "BOO," then we would probably have games that are far scarier than what we have on the market today.

Posted by Meowayne

 how many games like this are there? Dozens. Both FEAR games use this trick, Condemned,  --- > Silent Hills <---, Sirens, Biohazards (Resident Evil series)… The list goes on.


Fail thread fails hard.
Posted by Everyones_A_Critic

I think the jump scare is a lost art form. On the one hand, if used sparingly and with perfect timing (when you REALLY don't expect it to happen) it can really make you jump out of your seat. On the other hand, if used in the wrong hands (i.e. the mirror trick) they soon become expected by the player/viewer and lose their potency.  
  
***SPOILERS FOLLOW******* 
 
     There are some moments in survival horror games that come to mind when I think of moments that scared me, like the first killer dog in RE1. However, like you said, you don't stay scared for long apart from a little jolt to the system. One of the few instances where I've been creeped out and pretty disturbed in a game is the "Andale" hidden quest in Fallout 3. Andale is a little street of a town, populated by two families that are just too damn jolly for their own good. When you wait until nightfall, you can search either the basement or the shed out back of one of the houses, and make a gruesome discovery: human limbs and other dismembered body parts. Upon leaving the shed/basement you're confronted by the cannibalistic family and can kill them all or play it off.

Posted by mark2000
@OracleXIII said:
" @Akeldama said:
" as soon as you said Silent Hill was in the same category as FEAR for using cheap scares, you lost all credibility. Nice try. "
Yeah they are completely different games, but they both operate on the same basic concept. Silent Hill is much better executed, but the foundation for both is the same. "
 
Depends on what 'foundation' you're talking about.
 
Cheap scares and surprises: No
 
Artificial stimulant for the imagination: Yes
Posted by Plasma

Yeah you obviously haven't played much Silent Hill, as it goes for the exact sort of horror you seem to want. 
 
Its more psychological than frightening, more drawn out horror than jump scares.

Edited by MarcusOfLycia
@Plasma: 
 
I've only played the first one (working on doing the others), but that's the same perspective I take. I don't know if anything ever jumped out at me in the game... the scary part was the psychological horror. Not knowing what was real or fake, and being told just enough about what was going on to only make the situation worse. I found the sound/music in that game really contributed too. You felt like you were in actual danger while playing it (and I only played it late at night, so the effect was more prominent). And creepy hospitals with zombified nurses in the middle of complete darkness never sat well with me psychologically, anyway.
 
The other games mentioned sound about right though... at least the one's I've played.
Posted by Plasma

I quite liked Dead Space's horror, it was just polished and awesome to play, while being scary at the same time.  
My GOTY I think, much better survival horror than RE5.

Edited by teh_destroyer
@Plasma said:
" I quite liked Dead Space's horror, it was just polished and awesome to play, while being scary at the same time.  My GOTY I think, much better survival horror than RE5. "
I forgot about Dead Space, was surprised at how good it was.
Bioshock's eerie atmosphere added some creepiness to it. The Penumbra games were also fantastic psychological horror games, and they were pretty frightening at moments, because whenever you had to run away, you never exactly new what you were running from. 
Posted by Jeust

I agree with blog post, as cinema and game horror technics haven't improved all that much since the early city of the damned and alone in the dark. 
 
Most games aren't as scary anymore. 
 
There are the ones that though break thru and are scary. Games like FEAR, Dead Space and Silent Hill 2. 
 
I don't agree also with the Silent Hill 2, but i did understand what you wanted to say. Though the core of the game, is less in the cheap tricks, and more on the emotional and mental thrills that it brings, when everything starts breaking down, and you see the filth that was in the dark. 
 
There aren't many games like that. 
 
And to the zombies, i can add the ghosts, as they were over used since the birth of horror, and now they aren't all that scary. 
 
The horror genre has to break thru new barriers to keep on going. 
 
Though as Resident Evil 4 showed if you give a bit of credibility into a source from fear you can increase it's effectiveness. They did it with the Las Plagas, when they talked about similar exemples in the animal kingdom.

Posted by TatsurouXIII
@Plasma said:
" I quite liked Dead Space's horror, it was just polished and awesome to play, while being scary at the same time.  My GOTY I think, much better survival horror than RE5. "
RE5 wasn't really that much of a horror or survival. Turned into just another action game, to some extent. Dead Space wins over RE5 on all grounds, but especially on one: in RE5 you have a partner. How can it be survival horror if you're not alone?
Posted by Gamer_152

I agree, a video game has never truly scared me beyond a jump scare. I appreciate the atmosphere a lot of horror games bring across (prime example for me is Bioshock), but appreciation of atmosphere and fear are two different things. Even Dead Space which I thought might be genuinely scary only really made me panicky or got me with a few good jump scares. I suppose for me it's really the element of surprise that makes something scary (I even jumped a little at Pikmin once) and whenever you go into a survival horror game I think you have a level of anticipation which usually means you're never actually gonna be all that scared.

Moderator
Posted by ShaunassNZ

Games aren't scary anymore, though I was screaming whilst playing Deadspace, but that was just to piss off the people in the party.

Posted by Akeldama
@OracleXIII said:
" @Akeldama said:
" as soon as you said Silent Hill was in the same category as FEAR for using cheap scares, you lost all credibility. Nice try. "
Yeah they are completely different games, but they both operate on the same basic concept. Silent Hill is much better executed, but the foundation for both is the same. "
no. Silent Hill is subtle and psychological. All those games are totally opposite. 
Posted by TatsurouXIII
@Akeldama said:
"no. Silent Hill is subtle and psychological. All those games are totally opposite.  "
agreed, that the rest are not subtle. but wouldn't you say that all of them are psychological? if they weren't they'd just be action games where you walk around and shoot stuff. the tension has to be built in one way or another. Silent Hill is a different game, but it still falls into the same category of survival horror.
 
 
BTW, did any of you hear of that Haunted House Simulator game coming out on the Wii soon?
Posted by eroticfishcake

I"m terrified of everything so yes I already am. 
 
Haunted House Simulator? That's too good to be true.

Posted by Venatio
@Everyones_A_Critic said:
"I think the jump scare is a lost art form. On the one hand, if used sparingly and with perfect timing (when you REALLY don't expect it to happen) it can really make you jump out of your seat. On the other hand, if used in the wrong hands (i.e. the mirror trick) they soon become expected by the player/viewer and lose their potency.    ***SPOILERS FOLLOW*******       There are some moments in survival horror games that come to mind when I think of moments that scared me, like the first killer dog in RE1. However, like you said, you don't stay scared for long apart from a little jolt to the system. One of the few instances where I've been creeped out and pretty disturbed in a game is the "Andale" hidden quest in Fallout 3. Andale is a little street of a town, populated by two families that are just too damn jolly for their own good. When you wait until nightfall, you can search either the basement or the shed out back of one of the houses, and make a gruesome discovery: human limbs and other dismembered body parts. Upon leaving the shed/basement you're confronted by the cannibalistic family and can kill them all or play it off. "

That Andale thing really creeped me out too, I just didnt expect it while searching areound for items, but I did suspect that something was wrong because everybody was too damn calm
Posted by Akeldama
@OracleXIII said:
" @Akeldama said:
"no. Silent Hill is subtle and psychological. All those games are totally opposite.  "
agreed, that the rest are not subtle. but wouldn't you say that all of them are psychological? if they weren't they'd just be action games where you walk around and shoot stuff. the tension has to be built in one way or another. Silent Hill is a different game, but it still falls into the same category of survival horror.   BTW, did any of you hear of that Haunted House Simulator game coming out on the Wii soon? "
by psychological, i mean the game (silent hill 2) gets its scares from within the player. Less is more and the game knows it. They fuck with your head using situations that often dont lead to combat (monster closet or pop out scares). Resident evil (to a lesser extent) used to be in the category as well. Crazy visions of a little girl rapidly popping up as you climb a ladder is not psychological, its just a scare tactic.
Posted by RichardLOlson

Survival horror games are not really scary anymore...I mean the old school stuff was kinda scary, but nothing really got me jumping out of my seat then the very first doom for pc.  But then doom 3 game out for the x-box 360 and I was shitting my pants.  With the lights out and the surround sound going on, oh yeah I was on the edge of my seat and I wanted to shit my pants every time I would turn around a corner and see something jump out at me.

Posted by TatsurouXIII
@eroticfishcake: 
seriously, they're making it for the 10th anniversary of The Grudge movie franchise.
Posted by eroticfishcake
@OracleXIII: Just wow. That has to be the most exhilirating name I've ever heard for a horror game.
Posted by GreggD
@Venatio said:
" @Everyones_A_Critic said:
"I think the jump scare is a lost art form. On the one hand, if used sparingly and with perfect timing (when you REALLY don't expect it to happen) it can really make you jump out of your seat. On the other hand, if used in the wrong hands (i.e. the mirror trick) they soon become expected by the player/viewer and lose their potency.    ***SPOILERS FOLLOW*******       There are some moments in survival horror games that come to mind when I think of moments that scared me, like the first killer dog in RE1. However, like you said, you don't stay scared for long apart from a little jolt to the system. One of the few instances where I've been creeped out and pretty disturbed in a game is the "Andale" hidden quest in Fallout 3. Andale is a little street of a town, populated by two families that are just too damn jolly for their own good. When you wait until nightfall, you can search either the basement or the shed out back of one of the houses, and make a gruesome discovery: human limbs and other dismembered body parts. Upon leaving the shed/basement you're confronted by the cannibalistic family and can kill them all or play it off. "
That Andale thing really creeped me out too, I just didnt expect it while searching areound for items, but I did suspect that something was wrong because everybody was too damn calm "
I thought there was something wrong with those people. I'll have to check it out.