Scary Video Games, What is Scary?


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Inspired by recent reviews saying Resident Evil 4 is way better than its predecesors, I was wondering what really makes a video game scary. The first 3 Resident Evils (and the games that branch from those games) are filled with lush and atmospheric environments and focus less on mowing down zombies and more on exploration and puzzles. While the atmospheric environments are still present in Resident Evil 4, there are very few puzzles and limited exploration. The fear in Resident evil dosen't come from triggered events that scare the crap out of you. It's the fear of what is in the next room, do I have enough ammo, am I going to be attacked the moment I go inside? Do you really need puzzles to enhance this kind of primal fear? I find Resident Evil 4 to be the better game (probably because I'm too stupid to beat a lot of the neccesary puzzles in Resident Evil 1) when it comes to freaking you out. I loved the new action oriented take they took for the series. I remember coutless times when I had used up all my pistol ammo on the chainsaw grandma, only to hear a scream from behind, turing around I found a large mob staring me in the face. I had no ammo. If running for your life isn't fear I don't know what is. Some people would say the puzzles and exploration make the first three Resident Evils much better. I guess what I'm trying to say is, which is scarier? Exploring a dark hallway filled with corpses and spring loaded traps, or being chased by zombies with nothing but a combat knife? Just to clarify, this discussion isn't about RE, but scary video games in general.

This post was edited by SilenceOmo7 on 3/06/2007 11:04 AM
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I tried playing Resident Evil because I love scary movies. I really wanted to be scared. But I just can't immerse myself in the character enough to get scared. It kind of sucks, actually, I was looking forward to being scared. Maybe I'll give Resident Evil 4 a try.
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Play Resident Evil with the lights off on the part when the zombie dog jumps through the window. That part scared the crap outa me the first time I saw it.
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Well it won't anymore now that you told her! :P

Games can definitely be scary, I think any gamer that's played a "scary" game alone, at night, with the lights off can attest to that fact. The scariness comes from getting really into the game, which involves A LOT of factors, but when the stars align, and you connect with the game, there's no other experience like it.

I think you've done a pretty good job grabbing the essence of what is scary in video games, it's the tension that you might die at any moment, and what the heck you're going to do next to survive. If you go back and play the original Resident Evil games they're probably not that scary at all, precisely because of the lame puzzles.

But is fighting for your life scary or just tension? What is scary? There's also creepiness. I think if you play any of the games outlined here and get into them you'll be really scared. Where I consider that getting your heart pounding, and your palms sweating, but not keep you up at night psychological terror.

And for the extra-bit of creepiness check out Bioshock. It's the spiritual successor to System Shock, and it looks CRAZY! I warn you though, the footage could be a little disturbing...

This post was edited by Omar on 3/06/2007 11:57 AM
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Ok, I don't know HOW to get into a video game! I seriously would like to, but I just can't!
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I think getting into a video game has a lot to do with controlling the character and know what's going on. There's a HUUUUUGE gap between what someone who has been playing a game for 10 years knows, and what someone that's never played a game before knows. I mean, to the seasoned gamer, a health pack is a standard thing, but a non-gamer doesn't know what the heck that is. Same with bashing crates, etc etc. There's all of these standard gaming conventions that modern games rely on that gamers take for granted, but are completely nonsensical to non-gamers.

I actually talked about about this concept of non-gamers here. This is one of the reasons why the Wii is so successful is because it doesn't rely on traditional gaming conventions, which opens up the experience to everyone, not someone that grew up with the Playstation (or the Nintendo like me). If you combine the strategies I talked about in rethinking game difficulty, with making games more mature I think you'd have something really special, and if you made your game scary, it would be truly terrifying and reach that keep-you-up-at-night level.

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Can games really ever be scary? There could be a high level of creepiness, but in order to be truly scared you need to be in danger, like the character is. The security comes from knowing that your safe, that it's just a game.

There's a cool video I found at StumbleVideo.com. Search for Derren Brown-Zombie. It's a really interesting experiment that kinda relates to this disscussion. Or click this: http://video.stumbleupon.com/#p=6bz6sqguuw The video contains some strong language and violence.

This post was edited by SilenceOmo7 on 3/06/2007 6:21 PM
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I have a problem with being scared of games, any tips?

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