Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Horror Games Just Don't Exist, Cliffy.

I think Cliffy B. just enjoys hearing himself talk, because he really didn’t need to give an opinion about the horror genre, something he has no interest in with his personal work. But people will listen, and write an articles about it. Damn, even I’m doing it.

It boils down to this: people don’t play horror games anymore because they don’t want to play them. Dead Space 3 has morphed into an FPS because of this. The “horror” genre is solitary, confined, where as so many of today’s games is about a group experience.

Maybe the answer is much simpler than that: people don’t play horror games because so few of them exist. How about that for an epiphany?

The problem with the horror genre is that it’s no longer about scaring people. It’s about swarm and gore.  Left4Dead has capitalized on this, along with the humor of possibly being in a live-action zombie movie. Resident Evil has diverged from its original calling and focused more on this in the recent games. Even Silent Hill and Fatal Frame are losing their touch. More gore, less scare.

You could easily compare this to the horror film genre. Think back to the last time that a movie really scared you. Maybe Paranormal Activity. The first one. What are we at now, 5? Too much. But why was that scary? Because the focus wasn’t on cutting off limbs via-Saw, or making you laugh at the ludicrous death sequences ala-Final Destination. Horror movies are no longer about psychologically scaring the crap out of you. They want to make you leave the theater feeling queasy, but relatively unscathed.

That’s the way the trend has moved. Scary is no longer the cool thing. Why? Well it’s hard to really say. A part of me believes that the task of creating a movie that truly scares people is quite daunting. You have to push yourself into the minds of the audience and figure out “what really would frighten these people?” To achieve that goal is incredible. But it also leaves open a lot of room to fail. Horror movies are a hit or miss. What might scare one person may not faze another. And in entertainment, sometimes you only get that one shot. So you don’t want to screw up and you go with the obvious: gross people out. Because everyone thinks cutting off a limb is nasty, even the non-squeamish ones.

People don’t play horror games because they’re not around. The few that are, are not really “horror.” Slenderman is probably the scariest game people have played in years, which is a solitary experience. Simple game play, graphics, design, and movement. But it will freak you out. If we had more games like that available, then more of us would play. It’s just simple logic Cliffy B.


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