Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Horror Games and Horror Movies – what elements do they contain that instill fear in their audiences?
Horror games and movies have developed over the years a very successful formula of evoking fear and anxiety in players and viewers.
Early horror films were limited in their technology and used things like lack of colour and sound to place an emphasis on the visual aspects of horror and suspense. Often times the early movies were based off of old legends and stories, like Nosferatu (1922) and Night of the Living Dead (1958).
Early video games were based on movies; the technology too was young and not very sophisticated. Early games included Halloween (1983), Friday the 13th (1985) and Splatterhouse (1988). Then in 1992 we were introduced to Wolfenstein and the Doom series in 1995. These games used new techniques where the characters were made to jump out at you and the music was used to set up the suspense.
In movies we can categorized horror into three genres:
Slasher where it’s the monster against everyone else;
Thriller/Suspense films where the emphasis is on the story and technical aspects that make the telling more effective and;
Gore – lots of violence and blood.
In videos the emphasizes is on strategic play or aggressive play. There is a heavy influence from the Slasher and Thrill genres of movies. The majority of video games are classified as “survival horror”. The games follow a formula made popular by the Resident Evil series. Techniques include:
a false sense of control over the situation
The Strategic play involves the games emphasize on puzzle solving in order to progress in the game and the avoidance of confrontation when possible. The Aggressive play involves the use of a variety of weapons and an opponent.
As horror films continue to push the envelope with the advancement of technology it stands to reason that video games too will expand out of their “survival horror” genre into something more gruesome and controversial.