Gamers logo

Horror Games: Why are We Drawn to Them?

These games pull our safety nets away from us and drive that sense of horror into our immersion.

By Dustin MurphyPublished 6 years ago 4 min read
[Courtesy: SEGA of America]

Laying in bed at night isn't as difficult as much as one would think. In my youth I was one that found myself swooned to sleep by the articulated writings of H.P. Lovecraft. On Friday nights when I was six, I would sit on the couch beside my favorite stuffed bunny (whom I have to this day), and watch Sigourney Weaver and Bill Paxton team together to eliminate their xenomorph threat. On Saturdays, I would sit quietly on the floor with my parents, all perked up and watching Hellraiser. My favorite parts of all three? The artistic creativity behind all three of them. The artistic imagination it took to create the things I was seeing visually.

Is it the creative studies needed to bring such tales to life? What about the craftsmanship to create the creatures that drive the horror theme home? If you look at the movie series #Alien, one can understand the lure to what makes horror such a unique genre, and why fans like myself find ourselves drawn to it with such fascination. However, what about games? Why do we play horror games and consume them with such eagerness the way we do?

Horror-Survival games strip away safety nets.

[Courtesy: Red Barrels Studio]

In most games these days we are used to the ability to survive, the ability to fight back, and to get away from our assailants. Such is the case with games such as #HorizonZeroDawn, #GhostReconWildlands, #FEAR, and many more. However, what happens when games strip away our chances of survival? This is the type of horror we are talking about. Not the games where you have an arsenal that allows for a chance to fight back, but instead, the games that leave you vulnerable and weak.

If you have ever played a game such as #Outlast, #AlienIsolation, or #Slender; you know your chances of survival are slim. Your only friend is your attention to detail, awareness, and your knowledge of the area around you. Even with these strengths in your favor, the games are unpredictable, they rely on your ability to make mistakes. Most-of-all, they are programmed to scare the ever living Hell out of you. Many video game A.I.'s learn the players actions. It's because of this approach we feel vulnerable. It's almost as if these games pull our safety nets away from us and drive that the sense of horror into our immersion.

Is it mental or physical reactions that drive us to enjoy horror?

[Courtesy: Capcom]

What is it though that really gets under us and draws us into a good horror game? Is it the knowing that the games will hold some grand secret for us to find? Is it the idea that we may be defenseless at any given moment? Is it the mental knowledge that around any corner a scare could be around the corner? For some of us there is not a mental implication behind why we play horror games outside of the creepiness factor that draws fans in. For some of us it's the idea of the bodily impact they have upon us.

It's the idea that our uneasiness begins to prepare for anticipation as we try to mentally prepare for the enemies that will leap out. The moments where we will encounter our greatest fears, and those moments where we will feel ourselves come loose as our blood bumps. It's those very things that wrack our bodies as our games of choice get underway and provide us with an experience that can't match anyone script that every gamer will encounter. It's that very knowledge that we figure we are mentally prepared that makes us seek out such events. These very elements that drive us into our seek to play horror games, watch horror films, and even read horror books.

But is that really why we like horror?

[Courtesy: Visceral Games]

Probably not. While the excitement for horror tends to drive us raving mad, much like some enemy out of #Outlast, it's the designs we also like. We love the atmospheric pressure the games put on us whether it's environmental or even artistically. The challenges presented to us isn't just about how we would react in a game, but how we would truly react in that situation. That is one of the things that drives us there. We want the immersion, we want the realism, and we want to feel as if we are that character.

It is the very thing that lures us in is the psychological factors. We want to be scared, we want the predictability we are used to - to surprise use. We want that instinct we have to shatter every expectation we had and push it aside. Just as all of us play games, all of us have different approach to the world around us, and each of us will take in each encounter differently. Whether it's trudging through the depths of the Baker Farm in Resident Evil VII: Biohazard or even the institute in Outlast where players run for survival.

Whether it's psychological, a fascination, or even an approach to any of the above. Fans will undoubtedly find themselves seeking out the next horrific adventure they've never been prepared for in any form. So sit back and know that you aren't alone. There are plenty of us horror fans out there that delve into the creepiest areas ever.


About the Creator

Dustin Murphy

A video games journalist and Content Creator. He has been featured on sites such as AppTrigger and MoviePilot. He's the president and editor-in-chief of the independent news publisher Blast Away the Game Review.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.