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When Will Games Disturb Us?

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the creepy-little-girls dept.

242

Game Girl Advance brings up the subject of emotion in games, again, by going to the dark places. Jane talks about movies that are just plain uncomfortable to watch (shades of Donnie Darko), and wonders why when games will have the same effect. From the article: "Yet you could argue that Manhunt used a cheap trick - it set up the situation in order to exploit it for someone's idea of 'fun.' You could say that the developers did not mean to convey any message beyond entertainment. City of God was entertaining, in the broadest sense of the word, but it was also a portrait of hopelessness and a cycle that trapped its inhabitants; it was also in some ways a social history of gang violence in the slums from the seventies to the eighties. Manhunt does not have enough external references to be about anything other than what it is."

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When? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15721988)

Until that damn kid turns that Godawful noise down, that's when!

And get off my lawn!

Q: "When Will Games Disturb Us? " (4, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | about 8 years ago | (#15721991)

A: August 2, 2004

Sorry doom 3 was creepy as hell (bad pun) when i frirst started.. then again i did start at night with the lights off and hifi audio going - the random people screeming through the walls really got me

Not disturbing, just scary. (4, Insightful)

AEther141 (585834) | about 8 years ago | (#15722145)

No current games are disturbing in the "keep you up at night thinking, appear in pathologically terrifying nightmares, make you think twice about telling people about it" sense. They're scary and shock in the same way a slasher movie will, but ultimately they're shallow in the same way, lacking in depth and development. Nothing 'horrific' in that sense happens in films like Donnie Darko, Jacob's Ladder, Requiem for a Dream or Silkwood, but they're far more emotionally disturbing than, say, Doom or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. They express a deep, complex and gut-wrenching fear of the real and utterly tragic rather than simplistic caricatures of brutal violence. No game has ever made me rethink my attitudes to nuclear energy, phone up an old friend just to see if they're still alive or toss and turn for days.

[Life] Not disturbing, just scary. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722296)

"No game has ever made me rethink my attitudes to nuclear energy, phone up an old friend just to see if they're still alive or toss and turn for days."

Try playing Life: The Deluxe Edition.

Re:Not disturbing, just scary. (0)

NeMon'ess (160583) | about 8 years ago | (#15722381)

Donnie Darko only disturbed me because I kept trying to figure out why they hell people liked it so much. What I saw was a dumb movie with an illogical concept and execution. I only saw the theatrical version, but people liked that one too.

WTF was up with the rabbit?

Re:Not disturbing, just scary. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722728)

File under "NeMon'ess didn't get it.

Re:Not disturbing, just scary. (4, Interesting)

choprboy (155926) | about 8 years ago | (#15722423)

No current games are disturbing in the "keep you up at night thinking, appear in pathologically terrifying nightmares, make you think twice about telling people about it" sense.

I'd have to disagree with that. While I'd agree with you that Doom3/etc. had little "nightmare" factor and quickly became predictable, there is one game that kept me having flashbacks for some time. The game was called "The Suffering", by Surreal/Midway.

Quick plot line: You have just been sentenced to death row for killing your wife and daughter in a crime you can not remember. Your first night in prison, all hell breaks loose, leaving you to fend for yourself and find a way off the prison island... The most effective scare-tatic of the game is that it combined lots of "flash-backs" of the horrific murder you supposedly commited, at RANDOM times, over your field of view. Could be in a slow game point when you have already cleared a room, or in the middle of a battle. Overlayed with the typical dark hallways, ominous sounds, and various "bad things waiting" of a typical game, it convincingly created an environment where you quite literally don't know what might happen next...

Wolfenstein 3D, anyone? (1)

michaeltoe (651785) | about 8 years ago | (#15722426)

I don't know about you, but my twelve-year-old self et. al were terrified.

Yes, but only for a while... (1)

OneoFamillion (968420) | about 8 years ago | (#15722158)

Doom 3 was kinda uncomfortable for the first 5 minutes or so, but then became just plain predictable and boring. The games that have disturbed me most are System Shock 2 and - somewhat surprisingly - Sentinel Returns.

Re:Q: "When Will Games Disturb Us? " (2, Insightful)

creimer (824291) | about 8 years ago | (#15722172)

Doom 3 is old hat and monsters jumping out of the closet horror been around forever. F.E.A.R., on the other hand, is a bit more scarier with the psychological horror of actually seeing things. Now that's disturbing.

Re:Q: "When Will Games Disturb Us? " (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722357)

The lurking horror of System Shock 2 still does a superb job at unnerving.

Re:Q: "When Will Games Disturb Us? " (4, Insightful)

dubmun (891874) | about 8 years ago | (#15722232)

A: As soon as we all play the Silent Hill series.

Re:Q: "When Will Games Disturb Us? " (1)

Xymor (943922) | about 8 years ago | (#15722460)

Man I remember when I was 12 and played Resident Evil for the frist time, I couldn't play the game with the lights off. I couldn't play Silent hill until I was 16, because of all those monsters, dark rituals and blood everywhere. The memory still scaries me. Man, I sound like a wuss, but today there's nothing they can do in a game the would remotely scary or provoke a moral aversion. All I care about is fun and the challenge(Even if I have to blow up the heads of scaried orphans by apparently no reason at all).

Re:Q: "When Will Games Disturb Us? " (1)

z0I!) (914679) | about 8 years ago | (#15722543)

I always thought Carmeggedon 2 [gamespot.com] should have been disturbing, but i found it funny instead. I did find Quarantine [abandonia.com] disturbing though.

Re:Q: "When Will Games Disturb Us? " (2, Interesting)

soulshinejam (985430) | about 8 years ago | (#15722364)

My deeply scaring PC gaming experience was the old game Blood, where you were raised from the dead and spend the levels in (already creepy enough) funeral homes and crematoriums. Never really understood why that FPS wasn't has popular as some of the other ones of the time. Kicking heads of your dead enemies around in '97 definitely seems much more disturbing than GTA nowadays.

Doom III disturbed me ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722000)

to the tune of 50 bux down the drain. No movie ever cost me that much, though I would've paid close to that to escape the Twin Peaks movie some years back.

When? How about now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722014)

Lots of games already disturb me. In fact half of the games I've got I can't play after the sun goes down :P And some titles I pass by because I find the content offensive, and I'm not very conservative!

F.E.A.R. (4, Interesting)

preppypoof (943414) | about 8 years ago | (#15722015)

F.E.A.R. is the only game I have ever played where I was literally scared to play any further...especially since i was playing during nighttime.

F.E.A.R-of the unknown. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722167)

F.E.A.R. followed the Hitchcock principle of "less is more", and "anticipation".

They don't now? (3, Insightful)

sc0ttyb (833038) | about 8 years ago | (#15722016)

It would seem that the author's never played a Silent Hill game before. Or System Shock 2. Or Eternal Darkness.

There's a difference between Creepy and Disturbing (5, Insightful)

Drogo007 (923906) | about 8 years ago | (#15722056)

And I don't think mass audience interactive entertainment (a.k.a. Video Games) will cross into truly disturbing Territory anytime soon. There's a difference between being a passive observer to something disturbing such as all the many movies already mention and being an active participant. And I think that the mental and emotional consequences of crossing that line are going to be too high for the majority of people to accept.

Granted, there's games out there with downright creepy premise, but they don't tackle such socially disturbing topics as movies because movies don't require that you project yourself as an active participant. The mental and emotional toll required to do that would, I think, force 99%+ of people to abandon such a game only a few minutes in.

Re:There's a difference between Creepy and Disturb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722111)

Here's a GREAT game idea: It's called "Ichi the Killer: The Game".

You play a guy named "Kakihara," and you're in possession of some very long, sharp needles and... ...on second thought, I think I'll stick with creepy games.

Disturbing games (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 8 years ago | (#15722028)

The first game that disturbed me in a good way was the original Doom... even low res, those weird textures that seemed to be based on skinned flesh was just creepy.

The first game that disturbed me in a bad way was the first Duke Nukem, where if you shot the strippers, they turned into piles of money. That's just mysogonystic. Yes, in theory the strippers were taken over by aliens, but that's wasn't the primary reason strippers were shootable. Someone on the team just wanted to be able to shoot woman (and let's face it, if you listen to the guys at the top of 3D Realms, they strike me as men with serious psych issues with women).

Even games like GTA didn't give me a sick feeling like that did. The violence in GTA is in the context of the world. The Duke Nukem thing felt like it was someone's sick fantasy that they thought was funny.

Re:Disturbing games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722039)

But shooting men is just fine and dandy, right?

Re:Disturbing games (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 8 years ago | (#15722098)

But shooting men is just fine and dandy, right?

LOL. Way to miss the point, Mr. AC. Exactly where did I say that shooting men was OK? If you had male strippers that were shot in the same way, I'd say the same thing. It's all about context and purpose. DN3D basically made shooting sexually exploited women a joke, for no other reason than it was someone's fantasy to do so.

Re:Disturbing games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722119)

>>If you had male strippers that were shot in the same way, I'd say the same thing.

You call that mysoginistic? Wierd..

>> DN3D basically made shooting sexually exploited women a joke, for no other reason than it was someone's fantasy to do so.

Maybe they wanted to put strippers in the game, but just having them as a wall texture would be cheesy.
Got to do something with them, and you've got a gun ;)

Re:Disturbing games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722335)

Long story short, he shot a stripper, felt like a sick, sick man, then decided that the guilt wasn't his fault, it was the fault of some even sicker programmer because they allowed him to do it.

The programmers of Fallout must have some real issues. They allowed me to shoot children in the groin with a shotgun.

Re:Disturbing games (0, Troll)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 8 years ago | (#15722390)

Long story short, he shot a stripper, felt like a sick, sick man, then decided that the guilt wasn't his fault, it was the fault of some even sicker programmer because they allowed him to do it.

Actually, I didn't shoot the stripper. I read about what happens when you do, and then I tried it. But nice try. To tell you the truth, I had a feeling the majority of Slashdotters weren't going to get what I'm driving at. This is the wrong demographic.

Re:Disturbing games (4, Funny)

Caldeso (912961) | about 8 years ago | (#15722428)

Actually, I didn't shoot the stripper. I read about what happens when you do, and then I tried it.

So in other words, you did shoot the stripper.

Re:Disturbing games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722465)

...He could've missed.

Re:Disturbing games (2, Funny)

crabpeople (720852) | about 8 years ago | (#15722495)

"This is the wrong demographic."

You're right. People here know the difference between a game and reality. You were probably looking for the 'man hating dykes who think everything is misogynistic' room. Its down the hall to your right.

Re:Disturbing games (2, Interesting)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 8 years ago | (#15722538)

You're right. People here know the difference between a game and reality. You were probably looking for the 'man hating dykes who think everything is misogynistic' room. Its down the hall to your right.

Slashdot really is endlessly entertaining when these subjects come up. First of all, I'm male. Second of all, the point isn't that it wasn't reality (hence the reason I tried it to see what actually happens), it's the fact that someone put it in the game and thought it was funny that was disturbing. It was obviously someone's fantasy, and that's a part of his psyche that I really could have done without exploring.

Re:Disturbing games (3, Funny)

Jesterboy (106813) | about 8 years ago | (#15722750)

I think you're highly overestimating the development process that went in to Duke Nukem 3D. I mean, have you played that game? Alien invasion? Pig Cops? Video porn booths? I see it more likely being brought up in a brain storming session or something.

Lead Designer: Okay, we've got the video porn booths in the game, and they're just looking great. Any other ideas?
Programmer #1: Um....strippers you can pay to dance?
Lead Designer: Yeah! Let's do that!
Programmer #2: But what happens if they get shot?
Lead Designer: Eh, just use the money graphic we already have; I want to take an early lunch.

Behold the awesome dev process of 3D Realms!

Re:Disturbing games (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722348)

To be fair, you didn't say anything about shooting men either, and just single out the (female) strippers.

If I start a new campaign to protect all the young boys of a neighborhood, of course the parents of the young girls are going to complain. But why should they? The young girls are no worse off than they were before.

Re:Disturbing games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722657)

In SHOGO Mobile Armor Division, there is a foyer scene where you can shoot a mother and her 8 year old daughter. It's pretty sick, I only know about it because there is a death scream effect file for when the child gets shot, she screams "mummmmyyyyy" or something like that. I found it to be quite sick, considering that even if you don't deliberately shoot the little girl, she can get hit by the enemies' firing at you. I played that game about a dozen times and
never shot her though. It really lowered my opinion of a great game.

Re:Disturbing games (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722731)

So, bullets should bounce right off them?

What if the next time you're in a firefight, innocent bystanders aren't fortunate enough to be from the planet Krypton?

Re:Disturbing games (1)

vadim_t (324782) | about 8 years ago | (#15722494)

What would be strange if you could NOT shoot them.

That'd have been funny, you'd shoot a RPG round and the stripper would continue standing there, as if nothing happened.

If there's something that often has a really weird feeling in games, it's artificial obstacles. Invulnerable people, floor elevations even a 5 year old kid could climb but you can't, stuff that should be movable/breakable but resists nuclear explosions, etc.

I'm still waiting for a FPS where you can blow up a door if you have good enough weapons on you. It's completely illogical, you're loaded with explosives, rocket launchers and machine guns, and still can't get through a crappy wooden door by brute force!

Re:Disturbing games (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 8 years ago | (#15722688)

I'm still waiting for a FPS where you can blow up a door if you have good enough weapons on you. It's completely illogical, you're loaded with explosives, rocket launchers and machine guns, and still can't get through a crappy wooden door by brute force!
Check out Red Faction. You can't blast the doors - yet you can blast the walls around it! Pretty good game anyway.

Sensibilities (1)

bl4nk (607569) | about 8 years ago | (#15722048)

I think when games have the emotional power to push on peoples sensibilities, they will finally have become a true form of art -- just as all great art does. It makes people respond in different ways emotionally. I look forward to killing hookers with a whole new realism and excitement.

Chicken-or-egg situation (1)

stokes (148512) | about 8 years ago | (#15722429)

There's a bit of a cyclic model at play here: Games will have emotional power once they are taken seriously, and they'll be taken seriously once they have emotional power. Because games aren't widely respected as an art form, lots of people have difficulty engaging with them in a way that would foster an emotional experience. Even if the game is the same story as a movie, the fact that it's a game is a stigma.

I also think few games have managed to capture a feeling beyond toying with our survival instincts. I think that the two sides will slowly slide together, however. Games will improve their emotional content bit by bit, and people who would previously have been turned off by a video game will warm up to them slowly.

It would be interesting to take a look at the social history of movies. They, too, were once shallow and flashy, something no respectable adult would pay to see.

What is disturbing? (5, Insightful)

Astarica (986098) | about 8 years ago | (#15722051)

Is disturbing being in a dark place and have zombies jump down? Is Final Fantasy X disturbing where you're fighting in a world that is trapped in an eternal spiral toward doom? Is it disturbing that in Terranimga for the SNES, everything you do that you thought was supposed to help humanity only accelerated their destruction? I, for one, was pretty bothered by the intro where the earth's history is presented like a clock, and then the clock ticks to the 13th hour and falls apart. And yet both games are probably the story-book example of how hope springs eternal even in the darkest of hours.

The mood of a game is a result of its story-telling. If the underlying story isn't disturbing, putting more special effects isn't going to change anything, either. But if we assume there are books that can be disturbing to read, then certainly any game has at least as much access to present information as well as a book, so of course they can be, too.

Re:What is disturbing? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722197)

Is it disturbing that in Terranimga for the SNES, everything you do that you thought was supposed to help humanity only accelerated their destruction?

(while we're giving out spoilers anyway)
And in the end, you're given one last day with your girlfriend, before you and your world disappear?

From the article the "disturbing" being discussed isn't merely being creeped out or scared, but more like the game forcing you to do things that you find wrong, with the emphasis on the "forcing". Rather than simply a choice between whether you want to play nice or not (GTA, KOTOR, etc), a game where to get to the next level you must put living hamsters in a microwave and watch them cook. Of course, as another poster mentioned, what distresses some people is fun for others.

The game that springs to my mind though, is Ultima 4. When you started, you were given a series of questions to judge what "virtues" you held highest, and some of the questions were very hard to answer honestly (I just answered them to get the character class I wanted ;)

Serial Killer: The Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722055)

For the past few years I've been waiting for someone to come out with a serial killer game, where the player takes the role of the serial killer trying to outwit the FBI and continue his crime spree and trophy collection. When that game arrives, I'll know the moral decay of modern society is complete and irreversible.

(only half joking)

Re:Serial Killer: The Game (1)

Perseid (660451) | about 8 years ago | (#15722070)

Come on, now. That would just be too much. I mean, they'd probably even urban-ize it too. Add some rap songs, name it Serial Killa. That would just be way too...

What's Rockstar's phone number again?

Re:Serial Killer: The Game (2, Insightful)

Meagermanx (768421) | about 8 years ago | (#15722236)

Actually, it's kind of an original concept. Most of the stalk-and-kill games involve creeping up and slashing guards' throats, sneaking further into a fortress, and doing it all over again. Thief, Metal Gear, Commandos, Desperados, they're all the same.
Stalking people, then killing them, then worrying about the evidence, add some shootouts and narrow escapes from the cops... that'd be great! You could have a voice in your head telling you which victims to find ("Balding man between the ages of 30 and 45", "Young boy with dog") to act out repressed tresspasses on you. The police could follow your actions (for example, if you always kill in a 3 block radius, they'll step up patrols there), you could go on killing sprees, where you'd have to kill X people within X minutes, you could have slasher sections where you'd have to kill groups of cliche, dumb teenagers while dressed in a scary mask... A minigame where you have to invade a high school and take out as many people as possible. Killing with interesting weapons and devices ("Kill this guy by dragging him behind your car." "Kill this lady by setting her on fire.").
 
Call me deranged, but that sounds way more fun than GTA.

Re:Serial Killer: The Game (2, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | about 8 years ago | (#15722323)

Actually, it's kind of an original concept. Most of the stalk-and-kill games involve creeping up and slashing guards' throats, sneaking further into a fortress, and doing it all over again. Thief, Metal Gear, Commandos, Desperados, they're all the same. Stalking people, then killing them, then worrying about the evidence, add some shootouts and narrow escapes from the cops... that'd be great! You could have a voice in your head telling you which victims to find ("Balding man between the ages of 30 and 45", "Young boy with dog") to act out repressed tresspasses on you. The police could follow your actions (for example, if you always kill in a 3 block radius, they'll step up patrols there), you could go on killing sprees, where you'd have to kill X people within X minutes, you could have slasher sections where you'd have to kill groups of cliche, dumb teenagers while dressed in a scary mask... A minigame where you have to invade a high school and take out as many people as possible. Killing with interesting weapons and devices ("Kill this guy by dragging him behind your car." "Kill this lady by setting her on fire.").

What you just described already exists, but for the last few bits. It's called Hitman [gamespot.com] . No, it's not a serial murder simulator, but it's pretty much exactly what you described: Stalk your victim to learn their patterns, stay hidden, kill your victim (and others, if you like, though no Silent Assassin rating for you if you do), leave no trace. The "voice in your head" is the agency that sends you on the hits rather than schizophrenia, but is it really that different?

Re:Serial Killer: The Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722343)

OMG, not only did you just make this sound feasible... but it does sound fun! Katamari Dahmercy? Rolling dismembered body parts into bigger & bigger piles for the King of the Cosmos? Ok, that's enough...

Re:Serial Killer: The Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722227)

There is no such thing as "moral decay".

game connotates the frame of reference (0)

192939495969798999 (58312) | about 8 years ago | (#15722059)

If it's a game, there's an implied sense of humor about the content. You can have hitler chopping up baby bunnies and if its supposed to be a game, it becomes funny no matter how ridiculously bad taste it is.

Re:game connotates the frame of reference (1)

rogabean (741411) | about 8 years ago | (#15722075)

Super Columbine Massacre (google it) is a perfect example of that. When I first saw it... I was disturbed. Now I find it pretty fun to play and doesn't disturb me in the least. It is afterall... a game.

Xenosaga (1)

Perseid (660451) | about 8 years ago | (#15722062)

Yep. I meaa, tell me that scary little acid-rabbit thing that answers your mail for you isn't disturbing...

Re:Xenosaga (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722316)

Yeah, especially when viewed from behind. Shion even mentions that she was always creeped out from it's back when you view the large version of the rabbit, in the playground in the Old Miltia area. I'd need to go find my copy of Xenosaga 1 to be sure.

Ah, I can answer this one. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722067)

"Takeshi's Challenge" [wikipedia.org] , the 1986 NES game by Takeshi 'Beat' Kitano (who later went on to create the tv show we know as MXC). The game begins with a screen saying "This game is made by a man who hates videogames" and is designed to make the player as miserable as possible. The game includes such gems as a sequence where the player is forced to continuously sing karaoke for one hour without pressing any buttons; a gap which appears to be jumpable but is exactly one pixel too short to jump across, forcing the player to try and fail several hundred times until after several hundred deaths the game suddenly announces that the gap was actually impossible and lets you to the next screen; and a final boss that must be hit 50,000 times to defeat it.

Games can't ever be truly disturbing because disturbing is a subjective, personal quality; what one person finds disturbing another will find really neat, and vice versa. But Takeshi's Challenge, by abandoning the idea of shocking the player and actually moving into the region of purposefully causing them pain, was outside the possible comfort zone of anyone.

November 30, 1996 (3, Insightful)

LDoggg_ (659725) | about 8 years ago | (#15722073)

The original Diablo in all its 640x480 glory.
Maybe it was the soft string instruments in the background.

The intro movie was pretty good too.

Re:November 30, 1996 (2, Informative)

Amouth (879122) | about 8 years ago | (#15722385)

seach the web .. you should see the video for the butcher that was cut out of the game but is still in the mpq.. it is an sfx file i think.. you can find it in the mpq tree..

now that video was more disturbing than all the others..

Back to the Future: Interactive Fiction (4, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | about 8 years ago | (#15722077)

Graphics are great these days, but gore doesn't disturb. I can watch the six o'clock news and get more gore than in the most violent zombie flicks written.

Storyline is what disturbs. Let's get back to telling real stories.

Such as Infocom's Trinity [csd.uwo.ca] (about time travel and nuclear war), and A Mind Forever Voyaging [csd.uwo.ca] : Starts off with the mildly disturbing premise of what it's like to be a "brain in a vat, experiencing a computer simulation". Continues with the extremely disturbing unfolding of what happens when (because reality's just a computer simulation), the simulation extrapolates social/political consequences of what happens when one plugs in a certain Senator's "plan" to save the economy... and what happens to the brain in the vat when it starts to learn things about the "plan" that the dear Senator might not like.

AMFV was probably the most disturbing interactive fiction title that Infocom ever released. (Because we're arguably still playing it - you and me reading this - today.)

Stories won't do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722137)

I read a lot of books and play a lot of games. Neither of them are disturbing, because they aren't real. The news can be genuinely horrible, so can the videos on stileproject, but it's very hard for fiction to move me at all and I don't think any of it is as disturbing as a real life car crash video.

Re:Back to the Future: Interactive Fiction (1)

ecumenical_40oz (914889) | about 8 years ago | (#15722234)

"Storyline is what disturbs. Let's get back to telling real stories." I agree, when I think of the games that have affected me the most they have been RGPs with well written storylines. Shooting monsters and commanding armies might occupy the majority of my gaming time, but its the RPGs I remember the longest.

Re:Back to the Future: Interactive Fiction (4, Insightful)

wrecked (681366) | about 8 years ago | (#15722347)

Storyline is what disturbs. Let's get back to telling real stories.

Amen to that. Most of the posts so far , and a couple of previous [slashdot.org] slashdot stories [slashdot.org] on this topic, seem to equate "disturbing" with "gore", and offer as examples of "disturbing" games stuff like Doom, Silent Hill, System Shock 2 etc. While these games are certainly on par with horror-genre type films (I loved System Shock 2, btw), they don't capture the same context of disturbing as the example of the game Manhunt in TFA (ie. having the gamer assume the dual roles of murderer and detective).

A friend and I were having this same conversation last night, about films. A lot of people consider the Saw franchise scary, but for me, one of the most disturbing and suspenseful cinematic scenes recently was the scene in 2005's Crash where the little girl runs out to her father and apparently gets shot. I haven't seen City of God or Hotel Rwanda, which are films cited in the TFA, for the very reason that I think they would not be enjoyable viewing experiences.

The main question posed in the TFA is: If a videogame is no longer fun, we tend to stop playing. How can you make a videogame not "fun" and still compel players to go on? The hurdle that the gaming industry needs to overcome is the profit motive; games that aren't fun to play are unlikely to be purchased. The film industry, on the other hand, has had decades of avant-garde and independent films to condition audiences for challenging fare.

The parent poster here cited text adventure games as examples of the truly disturbing and challenging, and I heartily agree with that. I played Photopia [wikipedia.org] , and that game left me pondering.

Games will have caught up to films when the field will have its equivalents of film directors Peter Greenaway, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, and Atom Egoyan. There is one guy in gaming, John Tynes [johntynes.com] , who is close. A couple of his pen-and-paper RPGs are downright nightmarish: Puppetland, and especially Powerkill. The games used to be available on Tyne's website, but don't seem to be there anymore, so here is a review [rpg.net] .

Re:Back to the Future: Interactive Fiction (1)

sc0ttyb (833038) | about 8 years ago | (#15722695)

I guess it really depends on what a person considers disturbing. For me, death of the mind is a more horrible fate than death of the body, and thus I like games that mess with your head. Gore most certainly isn't all I equate disturbing to be, but given the proper context it can be. The Silent Hill series is a very good example of this, using both the mindfuck aspect and the gore aspect to maybe not really scare you in the traditional sense, but it really, really keeps you unnerved. Don't get me wrong: the Silent Hill games are VERY gory, but at the same time there's an actual REASON for the gore, not just put in there just because.

On a side note, music and whatnot can also play a large role in making something disturbing. Sometimes? Silence is the most disturbing music of all.

Perhaps not disturb, but a real effect. (3, Interesting)

CherniyVolk (513591) | about 8 years ago | (#15722078)


I'm a player of EVE-ONLINE. It didn't take long for the PvP aspects to have real effect. (Consequently, they have much less effect now; perhaps an end all be all definition of pirate depending on why?) Early, my heart beat would raise, adrenaline rush and all of a sudden I would get a real feeling of fight or flight mentality whenever a 'flasher' would warp in. That "oh shit" feeling, that even if kept silent is obvious to any onlookers. The effect is so strong, from myriad accounts not just my own, that I have often pondered if CCP will eventually have some sort of medical warning to those with heart conditions while starting to play the game. Not only does the game genuinely enduce physical and emotional characteristics of imminent hostile danger, but if you get to see your opponent pop you get a genuine sense of gain or power, if you die, you have a genuine sense of loss.

From these effects, they enduce real emotion as well. For example, hate mail or something within EVE known as 'smack talk', there has even been situations where the sentiment has been extended into real life threats and harrassment. Usually, becuase someone was attacked and killed by another pilot, but as involved as the game is, there are many ways to 'screw' over another player; such as undercutting their business stealing their customers or sabotaging political ties with alliances/corporations for your interest, or internal disloyalty and corp theft/betrayal.

This is all on account of game structure and mechanics. And, if this much can be enduced simply by interactive 'situational' analysis, then any other game could be developed to target a particular effect just by building up all the variables to justify the reaction whenever something happens. One of the chief causes for the seriousness of EVE, is that you do encur real loss and actual gain. If you die, you lose what you had and have to work towards acquiring it again, if you win, you may loot your victims wreckage for items valuable to you (that, and you get the killmail to further insult them by posting it on public forums.)

Dreamfall (-1, Redundant)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 8 years ago | (#15722082)

It seriously disturbed me that I payed that much for that piece of crap.

Also Fahrenheit distrubed me a bit, I seriously didn't thought my keyboard (or fingers) were going to survive another "GET READY!".

I can see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722085)

You haven't played Prey enough yet. I can assure you, that game is quite disturbing.

Metroid (1)

Gates82 (706573) | about 8 years ago | (#15722094)

I remember my older brother playing Metroid late one night. He was getting pretty far in the game and he runs onto a new screen that has a monster mad of bricks coming out of the wall. It freaked him out, he even took a couple shots off before he realized it was not alive.

--
So who is hotter? Ali or Ali's siter?

not to karma whore, but... (1, Insightful)

Digitus1337 (671442) | about 8 years ago | (#15722123)

When did Diakatana come out? Seriously though, System Shock 2 and Undying may be a bit dated now, but they certainly were unnverving.

Electronic Arts (3, Funny)

Avatar8 (748465) | about 8 years ago | (#15722124)

/shudder


Whenever I think that EA games could eventually buyout and control ALL game development....


NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

/catches breath


Man, that is truly disturbing.

Sometime in 1993 (2, Interesting)

Gaewyn L Knight (16566) | about 8 years ago | (#15722126)

I remember the first time I played through the Seventh Guest... and then not long later Phantasmagoria.

I dare you to find anyone that played those late at night that wasn't at least a little scared. The environment on those two games... especially with the sound was just creepy.

Even some of the Myst ones had some creepy moments in them. Not near those other two though.

Emotion versus Suprise and Gore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722131)

A lot of games, and movies for that matter rely on suprise and gore as substitutes for any actual emotional depth. You'll be watching some nice peaceful scene with flowsers and soft music, and all of a sudden some decapitated zombie spewing blood from its neck falls into the frame, and everybody in the theater screams. That's about as subtle and emotional as a joy buzzer.
Now on the other side, movies like City of God or Lord of War engage the viewer's emotions in a completely different way and leave a different and more lasting brand of disturbedness on the viewer. This sort of deep story is sadly lacking in most games even more than it is lacking in most movies.
There is one shining example to the contrary, and in a quite unexpected place: from the dark reaches of the Japanese Hentai/Bishoju industry came a game called "Kana, Little Sister". Amazingly this game, unlike most western "hentai" (liteally, "perversion") has a solid emotional story base that really engages, and disturbs the player. There was supposed to be a remake for X-Box with the few H-scenes removed, leaving just the story, but having not played that version, I can't comment on how well the story survived. I think that is the sort of emotionally engaging and disturbing game the OP is referring to, even without knowing it.

XCOM (2, Insightful)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | about 8 years ago | (#15722136)

The first XCOM had some creepy bits. I remember the first time I found an "examination room" in a UFO.

The general ambience was just plain spooky, especially the night terror missions.

Re:XCOM (1)

raeler (463406) | about 8 years ago | (#15722405)

Totally! I remember gathering my little team up into a semi-circle around the entrance to the first UFO I had encountered in the game.. at night, with the smoke and everything. I was thinking, "crap.. are they inside? are they outside already? I hope they don't have shields and lasers..". That was a great game.

The Path of Now and Forever was plenty disturbing! (1)

Myself (57572) | about 8 years ago | (#15722148)

If you haven't played Star Control 2, (now available for PC as The Ur-Quan Masters [sourceforge.net] ), you ought to check it out. The action gameplay is every bit as fun as in SC1, but there's an incredible plot this time around.

As you work through the game, meeting new alien species and trying to free Earth from its enslavement, you meet the two subspecies of Ur-Quan, locked in eternal war. The Kzer-Za want merely to dominate all species in the galaxy. The Kohr-Ah, on the other hand, will stop at nothing short of total extermination.

Their horrible story, and uncannily sympathizable justification for their "path", still unnerves me. I can't blame them. All I can do is fight back, and hope I don't meet too many of them at once. (The story in TOPNaF isn't complete, you have to play the game to get the whole background.) [gamespy.com]

Disturbing? Not really. They're aliens, after all. And that means none of it applies to the way we think about abused humans and their relations to society. Naah.

I'm a prude I guess... (1)

El_Smack (267329) | about 8 years ago | (#15722149)

... but I bet it's been more than 5 years since I started not playing certain games because the title was just "too much".

Demographics: 35 year old male, married, 3 kids. Gamer since Atari 2600 and Asteroids, played most every FPS starting with Wolfenstien (downloaded from a BBS at 2400 baud) and currently (still) playing Call of Duty, so I don't mind killing virual bad guys, even realistic ones. I like Fakey horror films (Sean of the Dead), Monster horror films (Alien), but not Freaky horror films (Saw). Probably explains a lot, in this context.

Eternal Darkness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722153)

I don't know about anyone else, but I thought eternal darkness did a good job of disturbing people. The insanity effects were subtle as opposed to jump out and scare you because you weren't expecting it.

when? (1)

Silon (646985) | about 8 years ago | (#15722169)

Now. [invertedcastle.com]

Scariest game (1)

Nachtdracke (988980) | about 8 years ago | (#15722173)

I have to admit that the original Half Life and Return to Castle Wolfenstein both freaked me out, playing at night when I'm the only one in the house.

Oddly, the lack of sex may be an issue - (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722191)

I remember picking up Silent Hill: The Room. Under the rating it mentioned sexual content of some sort, which i thought was interesting -- the other Silent Hill games had impressed me, and I was looking forward to seeing what they could do with more than just violence in the way of disturbing storylines. Unfortunately, most of the supposed content is just being able to unlock more interesting (sic) outfits for the female characters.

It's one of the odd weaknesses in the ones I've played so far (2, 3, and 4) as well as in Eternal Darkness. The games keep trying to be disturbing with violence or gore, but I can't recall any that managed to be disturbing about temptation. The Silent Hill games (2 and some of 4) manage to suggest some underlying tensions in that area, but not fully bring them to the foreground.

Sex is a powerful subject, yet I've not seen a game that really tries to use it in anything more than titillation -- trivializing the whole matter.

I read that ... (1)

Knuckles (8964) | about 8 years ago | (#15722218)

"Will Wii games disturb us". Wiierd.

Silent Hill, anyone? (warning: spoilers) (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 8 years ago | (#15722226)

That game disturbed the heck out of me. Specially after I had to kill Cybil. I felt like sh*t afterwards. That night I had a nightmare. Equally disturbing was when I played SH2 and I realized that James had murdered Mary.

This isn't like GTA because you really get to empathize with the characters and get into their minds. And then, wham! You're a murderer.

Those games are really screwed up. If you want my advice, don't play them and go to sleep afterwards.

It already did... (4, Interesting)

BTWR (540147) | about 8 years ago | (#15722229)

When I played the Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Omaha Beach level (aka "D-Day"), it was the first of it's kind (before 8 zillion clones), and it was simply... disturbing. It was produced by Steven Spielberg and was definately in the tradition of Saving Private Ryna. I was 22 at the time, so I thought first off that every boy there was my age. I'd die immediately when the boats opened the first 10 times or so. I died tons more on the way up. You'd look over and see other soldiers, grown men and ppl your age kneeling under a bunker and crying. Others mortally injured and screaming for mommy simply made the game "How would you have done if you were at this event in history" (answer: I would have *died*) rather than "Enjoy this video game level."

Re:It already did... (2, Interesting)

slackingme (690217) | about 8 years ago | (#15722574)

Yeah, here's my "me too" comment =)

That was an astoundingly intense scenario. I, too, died time after time, mowed down like nothin'. One of the things that got me was the lack of frustration from dying over and over.

Why didn't I get more and more frustrated, dying OVER and OVER a minute into the level? Because of everything the parent mentioned..

We were all dying. NPCs exploding left and right under mortar fire, NPCs huddled under cover just trying not to die. It removed a lot of the frustration just realizing that this REALLY HAPPENED, that people REALLY DIED (No 'Hit Spacebar to Continue...') but that same connection made it much more disturbing to play.

I can think of one.. (1)

ecumenical_40oz (914889) | about 8 years ago | (#15722257)

Sephiroth killing Aeris in FFVII. In fact that game was full of disturbing moments: seeing Jenova for the first time, Cloud's flashbacks, and more.

Re:I can think of one.. (1)

CelticWhisper (601755) | about 8 years ago | (#15722618)

Thanks for spoiling it for me.

Asshole.

(captcha text for this comment was "Tempered." I think that's funny somehow, but it's Friday and I claim exemption from all requirements of comprehension of my native English tongue.)

(In other news, my parenthetical notes now exceed the length of my actual post by an order of magnitude. ...God dammit.)

One idea (2, Interesting)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | about 8 years ago | (#15722258)

I had for sometime was a game based loosely on the old RPG (boardgame) Orgre. The thing that was appealing was that you were being hunted relentlessly by a (virtually) unstoppable (technological) force. I always thought if you removed the "virtually", you could really have something.

I've yet to see a game that presents an undefeatable boss. The idea being how long you survive IS the game. The environment could be anything but you could slowly ramp up the pace and create traps that would confound the player as they're being pursed. Sometimes slowly - sometimes quickly - but never stopping. You could slow the "ogre" down, even delay it - but never stop it. You would die - and then the game would end. When you would die was up to you. How you would die was up to IT.

It could even be done in a multiplayer deathmatch environ where you would watch all the other players get destroyed one by one. You could gang up - and perhaps really delay things - but never defeat it. Even being reduced to a spectator when you die could be fun - watching each player be killed one by one until the end of the round. You do see this in deathmatch shooters, but that's just a gaggle of humans whacking each other. Man vs. unstoppable machine would be - or could be - much more fun.

Most good horror films have this in some shape or form but in video games today - you always "beat" the protagonist. Take THAT element away - and you could have something very-very disturbing. It's what made the zombies (initally) scary in Resident Evil. The idea that you only were putting them down for a while - and that they could get back up and pursue you. Until you killed them again which suddenly didn't make them nearly as much fun.

Just email me for the royalties - or hire me, I'm a freelancer (mgabrys@netherworld.com).

Re:One idea (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 8 years ago | (#15722737)

I've yet to see a game that presents an undefeatable boss. The idea being how long you survive IS the game.
Most games for old consoles like the Atari 2600 have no end, they just keep getting harder.

Donnie Darko didn't disturb me... (0, Offtopic)

vertinox (846076) | about 8 years ago | (#15722269)

...it just pissed me off!

I sat 2 hours of this movie and he just dies at the end anyways so that nothing changes?

I mean he could have died at the begining of the movie and everything would have been peachy because none of the things he did mattered... ...because he was supposed to die all along.

The only other game that has disturbed me was those "You win!" ending screens on the NES after 36 hours of game play.

Answered 24 years ago. (3, Funny)

startled (144833) | about 8 years ago | (#15722294)

Games have been disturbing us since 1982 [wikipedia.org] .

Quake 4 (4, Interesting)

tjwhaynes (114792) | about 8 years ago | (#15722295)

Quake 4 has to be one of the most disturbing FPS's I've played. The whole idea of the Strogg taking their enemies, "enhancing" them biomechanically and then wiping their minds and making them into willing Strogg fighters is pretty nasty. That was present in Quake 2 too but it's much more in-your-face in Quake 4. Especially when you get captured and get to see "stroggification" from a first person perspective. I still wince when that rotating saw blade drops in...

And it doesn't stop there. The various body parts acting as part of the machinery are everywhere, complete with vaguely humanoid pumping noises. Some of the bodies are missing most of their limbs, others are fairly complete but are attached in cruciform positions and writhing in response to various stimuli.

And Quake 4 is not the only one out there in that genre. System Shock 2 (especially with the enhanced graphics mods) gets right inside your psyche and keeps hitting. To say that there are no disturbing games out there either indicates that the reviewer hasn't played many games or is remarkably blind to the horrors around.

Cheers,
Toby Haynes

Re:Quake 4 (1)

wuie (884711) | about 8 years ago | (#15722353)

I'll agree with Quake 4 being one of the most recent games that I played that had a level of 'disturbing', especially with the Stroggification and seeing former teammates as Strogg. I'll also agree with System Shock 2.

Phantasmagoria had some pretty disturbing scenes as well, with the murder scenes, etc. Earlier Sierra games that had the same effect would be Laura Bow in the Dagger of Amon Ra and Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers.

Dagger started out innocently enough until people started dying, and you as the character would have to examine, poke and prod the dead bodies to figure out how they died and for any clues as to who the murderer was. The examinations were pretty graphic for the video card capability of the time, and going from room to room with the creepy music going on in the background helped make the mood more disturbing.I recently rediscovered the game last week, and had a blast playing through it.

Gabriel Knight starts out disturbing right off the bat, with the Voodoo Murders happening all around New Orleans. As the game progresses, you find out more about the force behind the murders, as well as deep secrets of Gabriel Knight's past. It's a wonderful adventure game, and I'd recommend it to anyone.

When I think of creepy games, most of the ones that I know of are well-executed adventure games (pardon the pun).

They already do (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722302)

The first that comes to mind is Alone in the Dark, that game had real atmosfear. Doom is another that was in your face..

Sanitarium (3, Insightful)

easychord (671421) | about 8 years ago | (#15722320)

I found the game Sanitarium fairly disturbing at some points. Incase anyone missed it, it was a point and click adventure where the player assumes the role of a mental patient. You drift between fantasy and reality and try to sort out your memories, and save the world or something. I forget.

It's disturbing not because it tries to shock you with weird stuff, which it certainly tries to do and doesn't do that well. It's disturbing because as you play through the fantasy worlds you get the impression that something very wrong is going on in the real world that you are powerless to stop.

The answer to how to keep players playing disturbing games is so simple that it's sort of depressing that people get mystified and ask if it is even possible in games. Give the game a compelling story, what they are going through now may be disturbing but maybe the characters and scenario will develop. You could also, like, make the game fun to play. Worth a try.

That feeling of guilt... (1)

JFMulder (59706) | about 8 years ago | (#15722407)

... when killing off people in Knighs of the Old Republic when you decide to play dark side, I think tha qualfies pretty much. I had really hard time playing nasty at first. I felt bad for the lives I was ruining, even though they are artificial lives.

i mean come on (1)

putch (469506) | about 8 years ago | (#15722414)

have you played daikatana?

Kingpin: Life of Crime (1)

dalmiroy2k (768278) | about 8 years ago | (#15722468)

Kingpin: Life of Crime was a disturbing game back in the late nineties. I really should check it out again, but I remember it had cool melee weapons and gore.

Creepy is not disturbing (4, Insightful)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | about 8 years ago | (#15722513)

Hey guys! Yeah you, the ones with mod points. Why are you modding up all these posts about being scared or "creeped out" by a video game? That's not disturbing, anymore than riding a roller-coaster is disturbing.

Storylines that pull back the fascia of society to reveal ugly truths about the nature of man are disturbing. Hotel Rwanda is disturbing. A love story like Oasis [imdb.com] where one social outcast rapes another and yet the two are able to develop a relationship that is 100x more healthy than the "normal" society around them is disturbing (just read the comment from the woman who naively rented the movie for valentines day).

The point of the articles is that movies like those are the level of story-telling to which video games should be striving. What the article doesn't really discuss is just how to motivate someone to continue interacting with a game when the story hits them with such a huge emotional wallop. When it happens in a movie, the audience can just sit there, stunned into immobility (and often tears) and let the experience flow over them. But that's not what games are about. Perhaps it is just not possible for a game to evoke the kind of strong, personally felt, emotions that a movie or book can. Or perhaps the genius who will figure out a way just hasn't been born yet.

Re:Creepy is not disturbing (1)

easychord (671421) | about 8 years ago | (#15722606)

Just be thankful that nobody made the Rez trance vibrator reference and was modded +5.

You say that people only stay in movies after being disturbed because they are stunned. I acutally walked out of a movie once after being disturbed, but that might just be because I'm weird. Once something hooks you emotionally at that level you are more likely to want to find out more about it, I walked back into that movie then bought it on dvd. I've certainly read disturbing books that I haven't given up on.

Re:Creepy is not disturbing (1)

CelticWhisper (601755) | about 8 years ago | (#15722749)

Totally offtopic, but out of curiosity, which movie and what part? I know someone else who walked out (I think it was "A Clockwork Orange") after a movie rubbed him the wrong way.

Suspended (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15722580)

First game to affect me at any emotional level was Suspend by Infocom. Since I'm a terrible coward I usually spend a long time exploring the first few areas/levels of a game to get my footing.

In Suspended, I really got to know my robots (loved Poet :-)). Then I sent Aura (the one that hears) into a room and she reported a hissing sound, and then crackling and static and then her signal started breaking up and I tried to get her out of there but couldn't and then I sent Iris (the one who sees) to look for her and Iris reported Aura destroyed and then died herself, and then I couldn't take it anymore... (still hurts as I write this).

Never finished the game...

Donnie Darko? (1)

linhux (104645) | about 8 years ago | (#15722625)

Did the submitter really mean that Donnie Darko makes you uncomfortable? I think it's one of the most touching movies I've ever seen.

The most disturbing thing I ever loaded. (0, Troll)

krell (896769) | about 8 years ago | (#15722666)

I remember this one piece of software. At random, stark blue screens fill the desktop with ominous messages about illegalities and other such. Damn near jump out of my chair every time. Dire monsters with names like Bonzo Buddy and X-10 Camera crowd the screen, defying all attempts to get rid of them. Tens of thousands of virtual entities called "viruses" haunt you at every turn. Grisly scenarios like "shock the monkey and win a free iPod" are common. The more you play, the less secure you feel.

I don't play this game anymore. I'm not sure I even miss it, although it gave me the most frights I ever had on a computer. I ended up loading Red Hat Linux on the box, and the scary game software (with the innocuous name of "Windows ME"...made me think of the plant monster saying FEED ME!!!") does not seem to be Linux compatible, so I could not load it. Oh well, on to other things.

Distburing how? (1)

Rendo (918276) | about 8 years ago | (#15722724)

Are you talking about scary? Because there are some reasonably scary games. F.E.A.R. is the first that comes to my mind, especially when you play at night.

Now, if by disturbing you mean like something extremely sadistic like children being torn apart in a cutscene or in game, or something to that nature, I doubt it will ever reach that level. I doubt the game industry will ever go as far as torturting children in a game, and that is something I think is distburbing.

For a game to really disturb you, it needs to strike a fear in all of us. It needs to take something that could happen and explore that and expand on those ideas. A lot of people found The Ring scary, I didn't, but that's not the point. The way it ended was pretty good and I'm sure a lot of people were frightened by us. If a game was made that was similar in nature, and left the person thinking.... Could this really happen? That's when a game is disturbing. Currently games leave just glimpses of fear that fade in a few days, and only return when they go back to the game. A game needs to leave a lasting impression with the player that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
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