I’m a great fan of horror games, like Resident Evil, which after each iteration has become less and less of an horror game. Silent Hill, which had its missteps but had a great comeback, in my opinion, with Shattered Memories. Another fairly recent game that stroke me as great horror game is Dead Space. Another interesting thing about these games is. As a big horror fan, I have a lot of fun with these games. Granted I play them under the right circumstances: At night, with head phones in high volume and alone. So I do get the occasional scare, and most of the time I’m on my toes about when will the next monster jump on me.
I get to enjoy the atmosphere, the action, the suspense, the surprises, the story. It’s all a great package for me. So I can tell you those are great games, but, I’ve ran across more than a few threads and messages of friends and people in the internet that say they haven’t felt a single thing with the game.
Since I have, I know those things are there. So the question I ask myself is: Are the players around the world, afraid of being afraid of these games, and thus playing and exposing themselves to it in situations were the only option is to ridiculize the game and don’t feel anything?
Or is it a lack of imagination and work from the developers to attempt and convince these players that the game’s worth their attention, or even scare them in the light? (Resident Evil 5 rings any bells?). I’m more convinced of the former.
Horror experiences are fragile, yet powerful experiences that must be exposed to the person, in very particular situations for maximum effect. So if the person buys the game and thinks that playing it in the middle of the day with a bunch of friends around is going to be any good, they’re wrong. It might work for the more easy to impress ones, but for the overall audience, it just won’t cut it.
So I would have to say that there’s an absolute lack of understanding on how to play and enjoy these horror experiences. And if they indeed don’t get scared with the game even playing it under the circumstances I pointed out above, then maybe they’re just afraid of being afraid of something. Which is something bad, because you can only hold your emotions for so long and for so much stimulus. They might not be impressed by a game, but I’d like to see them react to the real thing.
Lastly, I’m not afraid of feeling fear, being afraid, jumping in my couch and feeling those strong emotions, because I believe that’s what those games are for, and that’s the greatest way to enjoy them. So if you have a horror game in your shelf that you didn’t enjoy because it felt bad, wait for nightfall, get to play it alone and with the volume high enough for you. It will be a whole new experience.