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Videogames Make Better Horror Than Movies?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the i-scream-you-scream-we-all-scream dept.

Movies 225

Wired author Clive Thompson has up an article stating that, with today's jaded audiences, videogames are more effective horror-conveyances than movies. Thompson argues that the removal of the fourth wall, placing the player directly into the story, overcomes the obstacles movie-makers face when telling a scary story. "I'll start down a corridor, hear something freaky up ahead, then freeze in panic. Maybe if I stay quiet the monster will go away? S^!t, maybe it's already headed this way, and I should move! But if I move the monster will hear me ... so maybe I should stay quiet ... gaaaaah! Games already seem like dream states. You're wandering around a strange new world, where you simultaneously are and aren't yourself. This is already an inherently uncanny experience. That's why a well-made horror game feels so claustrophobically like being locked inside a really bad -- by which I mean a really good -- nightmare." Do you agree? Is your favorite scary tale a movie ... or a game? (Silent Hill, I'm looking at you.)

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no (5, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385641)

The thought of playing a video game in no way fills me with the same sense of horror as the thought of watching a Uwe Boll movie based on the game.

Deep Fear (1)

armada (553343) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386225)

I have never been too scared in movies. Short of a few times as a kid where I had to ride my bike through the woods to get back home I have never felt "horror". When I first played the original Resident Evil on the PS i had broken my hip in a Motocorss accident 2 weeks before so was bed ridden. I lived in a big house along and my mobility was extremely limmited. I remember laying in my bed in the night with only the light from the tv playing one of the first parts of the game. When I went down that first corridor and found the first team member you encounter and the game showed me the first cut scene of the zombie finishing his meal and turning toward me, I was startled. As soon as controll was given back to me and the zombie started heading to me... I was completely FREAKED OUT! I mean I felt real fear. There is no way a movie will ever reach that level of immersion when it comes to fear.

Absolutely. (5, Interesting)

oxidiser (1118877) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385661)

I've never been scared by a movie, ever. But I almost soiled myself the first time I played Resident Evil (the part where the dogs jump through the window in particular).

Re:Absolutely. (3, Insightful)

rhartness (993048) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385761)

I know this may be modded as redundant, but after reading the title of the article I immediately wanted to respond with the exact same comment. Resident Evil set the standard for the horror gaming industry and I doubt we would even have this discussion if the game was never even made.

Re:Absolutely. (3, Interesting)

dintech (998802) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386229)

I had the same crapping my pants experiences with the original Alone in the Dark game. I'm pretty sure that predates Resident Evil. Also it does it without any incredible Hollywood special effects.

Re:Absolutely. (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386609)

Sweet Home is a Famicom game that is, as far as I can tell, credited as being the first survival-horror game released. And, let me tell you, it is quite a bit scary! Scarier than any move I've ever seen :)

It's worth a play [] if you have a retro-gaming fetish.

Re:Absolutely. (2, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387011)

You know a game is good when you get scared, even though they only had 17 polygons to draw a person, and midi sound. Sometimes game developers think too much about flashy graphics, and forget to go back to the old tried and tested methods of creating ambiance with lighting, background music, and building suspense. Metriod Prime is an example of a recent game was great at this. It had pretty good graphics, but I found that was unimportant in drawing you into the game.

Re:Absolutely. (2, Insightful)

Proud like a god (656928) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387299)

Polygons? What about the 2d Doom enemies? Pitch black sections except for flickering lights, with Pinky snarls coming from them...

Re:Absolutely. (1)

Serapth (643581) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386259)

Thats a very console specific mindset. Horror video games have been around on the PC for a very long time. Games like Sanitarium, Phantasmagoria, Clive Barkers Undying, System Shock 1 and 2. Having recently played through the medical level of Bioshock, its very obvious to me which is scarier if done right. A few horror movies freaked me out and I have seen a ton. That said, the best horror video games ( like Bioshock ) had me absolutely wired.

Re:Absolutely. (2, Interesting)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386481)

I've finished my first play through Bioshock this weekend, and i wouldn't classify it as a "horror" game - it's a solidly done shooter with several good RPG elements, but it doesn't come close to my System Shock experiences.

In System Shock, i started out as a hacker that could barely handle a pistol in it's hand. I was weak, ammo was low, scary sounds, scary environment, scary lightning, always low on resources, and then you just wasted a few bullets because you panicked and didn't aim. Very good. Even though after a few levels (i would say about after recreation), you'll also start to become a superhuman, with an assault rifle and plenty of ammo.

Bioshock is a lot more shooter than SS. And i never had the feeling of being weak. I played on medium, and i always had plenty of ammo, eve, health kits, etc. I didn't die once during the playthrough. I also started out as a superhuman, being able to fire flames and stuff from my hand - the splicers encountered early don't have the same capabilities, so i always better than anyone around me.

And Phantasmagoria... I got my hands on that game when i was around 12, 13. Very, very scary :)

Absolutely condemned. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20386957)

You left out Condemned []

Re:Absolutely condemned. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20387963)

That game seriously freaked me out. The combination of how slowly you move, the freaky enemies, and the atmosphere really did it for me. I was relieved to get to a part where I had to solve a puzzle because I could relax a bit.

Re:Absolutely. (1)

WhoBeDaPlaya (984958) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387319)

Clive Barker's Undying /discussion

Re:Absolutely. (1)

pigeontheory (969456) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387503)

I believe Alone in the Dark was the first series to capture this horror sensation in a game before Resident Evil. But don't get me wrong, RE was a scary game, the first time I saw those zombies break the window. But I think it was a glorified version of what Alone in the Dark was trying to accomplish.

Re:Absolutely. (4, Interesting)

iapetus (24050) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385813)

You think you had it bad - after seeing the start of Resident Evil for the first time I had to walk home past a graveyard. :)

That said, the Resident Evil formula (in the early games at least) soured pretty quickly. There's only so many zombies that can come through so many windows before it loses its impact. Silent Hill was a big step up in that, with a far better sense of creeping dread - and one that didn't always lead to a big explosive ZOMBIE THRU TEH WINDOW finale - some of the creepiest sections were those where nothing actually happened at all.

Re:Absolutely. (3, Insightful)

fugu (99277) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386223)

To paraphrase Hitchcock, surprise is when you walk by a window and a zombie jumps through. Suspense is when you know there are zombies lurking, you walk past window after window, but nothing happens

Thief 3. (2, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386245)

While it didn't have the whole game, there's a level in it - The Cradle - that's absolutely, completely spooky. Running around a burned-out building that used to be both an insane asylum AND an orphanage...

Re:Thief 3. (1)

RSquaredW (969317) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386939)

Looking Glass did an amazing job with all of their hybrid FPSes - the Thief and System Shock games (I hear good stuff about BioShock too). I didn't even finish Thief the first time I played through - I was stuck in the catacombs where the undead keep coming back to life and there are traps all over the damn place, and I just couldn't stand to keep going because my save was low on life and out of arrows. Only game that ever made me quit in fear (granted, I was 13 at the time).

I eventually came back to it a few years later and managed to get through, then play through Thief 2 (not as scary, IMO) and 3. I still remember the Cradle level with a shudder.

System Shock 2, which I was just playing through recently in preparation for BioShock, does a great job with their semirandom respawns and Resident Evil-esque ammo supply. Granted, it forces you to use the damned wrench for most of the early game, but the sound effects were incredible - suddenly you've got a hybrid right behind you moaning, "Runnn..." and swinging a pipe at your face. Too bad the later levels were rushed and didn't capture that same feeling - once you're carrying around an automatic rifle and power armor, there's much less fear and much more run-n-gun.

More FPS publishers would do well to emulate Looking Glass.

Re:Thief 3. (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386975)

While it didn't have the whole game, there's a level in it - The Cradle - that's absolutely, completely spooky. Running around a burned-out building that used to be both an insane asylum AND an orphanage...

The Cradle level makes every other "scary" game I've played look like a walk through a daisy-filled park at noon.

Re:Thief 3. (1)

Methuseus (468642) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387491)

How about when a zombie jumps out from under the daisies to latch onto your heels? ever thought about that scenario? Bet daisy-filled parks are not so harmless now, huh? ;)

Re:Absolutely. (1)

Psmylie (169236) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386273)

No doubt... Silent Hill has the honor of being the first game I've ever played to actually creep me out. Running through the damned mist, those creepy little kid things, etc. One of the scariest parts was when I was walking down a hallway in the school, and there was a lound noise, like a door slamming or something falling. I go to investigate... nothing. They did that just to scare the hell out of me, and it worked :)

For full impact, play it while alone, at night, with the lights out.

Re:Absolutely. (1)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386351)

...some of the creepiest sections were those where nothing actually happened at all.
I heartily second this sentiment. When I was playing F.E.A.R. (which I never finished and should go back to), the sections in which I was creeping along an empty corridor with flickering lights would sometimes actually give me that strange lightheaded fight-or-flight sensation. It probably helps that I play very tactically, rather than blasting through levels at a full sprint. A slow, methodical movement through a level in a crouching position allows plenty of time for tension to build!

Re:Absolutely. (4, Informative)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386663)

"here's only so many zombies that can come through so many windows before it loses its impact. "

That's the same reason why Doom 3 stopped being scary, Doom 3 nailed darkness and atmosphere but they over-used monster closets, they never made a lot of *rational* use of using monsters intelligently sneaking up on you. It's better when you're scared shitless looking around for sneaky bastards, then knowing the sneaky bastards are just hidden in "closets" behind walls until you hit a trigger. I have to admit though it did work for a while it's too bad they over-used it.

Re:Absolutely. (1)

milkman_matt (593465) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387361)

Y'know which game really did it for me? The Suffering. That one just seemed to get more and more suspenseful as you walked through it. Generally in games I'd run through it just blasting everything in sight, that one I tiptoed around corners and ran backwards while firing and being chased.

I never got around to playing FEAR until recently either, that seems to be pretty damned creepy too.

But yeah, the old RE games were great up until 4, I wasn't impressed by 4.

Re:Absolutely. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387727)

I agree. While RE1 was scary,it wasn't nearly as nightmare inducing as walking through the hospital in Silent Hill and have that static radio go off and KNOW there was something out there,only not be able to see it. More games need to let the players imaginations fill in the gaps instead of just piling on the polygons. Your imagination will always be worse than what they think up anyway.

Re:Absolutely. (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387045)

That made me jump (like everyone else) but the bit that really scared me was the cutscene that suddenly appears for the entrance of the superzombies (can't remember the name), the fact that you could see it find its way to the door and start to walk towards your character was horrible, you were smashing the pad in terror hoping that you could regain control in time.

I was reminded of that moment in HL2, when you get given the shotgun and hear those drainpipes rattle. In fact that level of HL2 is a great example of horror in videogames.

The fact that you might (and quite often do) die in videogames makes for a more terrifying experience, more so than the knowledge that everyone is going to die apart from the lead nature of film, that just ends up being an attempt to make you jump or gross you out.

Depends on your tastes, I guess (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387123)

As in anything that depends on taste, I'd actually expect quite a bit of variation. There is no "better" or "worse" as such, there's only "better" or "worse" for a given taste or personality type. At best, you can say more people like X than Y.

E.g., if I'm allowed to give a counter-anecdote to your anecdote, I'm the exact opposite.

Resident Evil never did much for me. The only "horror" in it for me were the awkward rotational controls and artificial view limitations because of the fixed camera. There was an additional (and for my taste unnecessary) extra learning curve and extra difficulty caused just by dealing with the weird control scheme. The decision to have limited saves was yet another thing that just said "artificial". Worse yet, it tripped my suspension of disbelief, because I had that artificial stuff in my face all the time and had to think about it instead of getting immersed in the world. Having to wrestle the controls doesn't make me go "OMG, I'm so scared", it makes me go "oh, FFS..."

I'm sure someone will mod that "troll" because it badmouths his favourite game, but it's not. I'm _not_ saying "Resident Evil is bad", I'm just saying that different people have wildly different tastes. The same game can be "bad" for some, but "bestest game evar" for some others.

And so it is with games vs movies too. I don't get scared by most movies, but a couple did manage to trip a particular phobia of mine big time. Still, I find well-done horror movies entertaining in their own non-scary way. I can't remember any game that triggered a similar response to either, so (while most were otherwise entertaining as a game) I wouldn't count any game I've played so far as truly a replacement to horror movies. More like something different, that can coexist. Again, I expect that for different people your mileage might vary. A lot.

Also as a handicap in proclaiming games as the total replacement there, is the factor that _most_ video game designers can't write a good story or choreograph it well if their life depended on it. A couple of them can, no doubt, but, honestly, most video game plots and stories don't hold a candle to a good movie. At least half are barely more than a vague background story as to why are you killing those monsters there, and you just give it a nod as you happily shoot zombies or whatnot in the head.

And at least half the rest are made by people who don't really understand whatever genre they're making, they don't even like it, but they figured they'd make a clone of whatever sold last year. And it shows. There is no mathematical formula or algorithm to make a fun game or a scary game, just some vague hypotheses and a lot of taking guesses and using your own gut feeling. Someone who doesn't really fall in the same market segment, just won't have the same "gut feeling" as to what should be fun. As I was saying, different people like different things. If you're different from your target market, well, you won't like the same things they like.

Now admittedly, (A) there have been exceptions, and (B) the situation _is_ (very) slowly improving, and (C) Hollywood makes plenty of duds too. Still, on the whole, I'd say it'll be a few more years before games are really a reliable replacement for any movie genre. Don't get me wrong, they're fun in their own right, as _games_, but I see that really as more of a different kind of entertainment at the moment, rather than something set to replace movies altogether.

Re:Depends on your tastes, I guess (1)

Methuseus (468642) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387797)

I can completely jive with your point about controls in RE. My friends got RE0 on opening day and wanted me to play with them, as I had never played an RE game before. We handed off the controller, each of us taking a turn. It scared me shitless, but I played very little cause I couldn't get used to the control scheme. We got through the game in only like two days though. Same story with RE1. The controls are atrocious. I thought about playing RE4, with the better control scheme, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

That said, some movies have gotten to me horror-wise, but more games have. My favorite is Eternal Darkness for GC. So many things it that game screw with your mind.

No. (4, Interesting)

Xtense (1075847) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385707)

I don't agree. While you're playing the game, you have some sort of an adrenaline rush, that effectively makes you immune to any kind of scare the developers might devise. That, and the inherent stupidity of the monsters you'll encounter surely makes them less of a threat.

But, on the bright side, it's easier to make a specific mood in a game, and make the player be afraid of that, for example - I was absolutely scared of playing Ultima Underworld alone when I was about ten or eleven. There was something in those dark corridors, bones lying around, and the music that provided the tension needed to scare the hell out of me. And it works today, too. Not in the way Doom3 would like us to have, but, for example, BioShock manages to capture the freaky atmosphere perfectly, making you look around your shoulder far more often.

Re:No. (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385877)

You make no sense, you say that adrenaline cancels out any sense of being scared, and then proceed to give anecdotes about how games scare you.
Of course games have more of a scare factor, since it's YOU that is being chased/grabbed. Movies you can totally remove yourself from it. With a game you are forced to attack these frightening creatures and sounds on your own, taking the action to reach into the small crawlspace, rather than just watching some silly teenager do it.

Re:No. (1)

Xtense (1075847) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386067)

What I've meant is in-game you don't ever have the feeling of hopelessness that accompanies good horror movies. Let's take the monster in the lead to TFA for example:

In a game: "Ok, time to take out the good ol' Pump Action and try to fill it's belly with lead."

The difference here is that in a game you have a choice - to kill it, or get out of there as fast as you can, you rarely just sit there thinking "ohshitohshitohshit... maybe it's gone away now..." - most of the time cutscenes force you to do this. And this even includes sneakers like Thief - you learn to listen around corners for guards and things like that, and when they run after you and you hide, you hear exactly what they say while looking for you, giving you an idea when their heads decide you've hid good. You just sit tight in there, waiting for them to go away, no emotional strings attached.

To sum it up - straightforward danger almost never works in a game, but a certain build-up will make you twitchy.

Re:No. (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386539)

I agree with you that movies have much more potential to frighten. Video games just aren't REAL enough to scare me. There's nothing scary about fake monsters in a fake space lab on a planet we can't even go to. But take a good scary movie like Jaws where it's based on real places with real creatures and real situations, and it can be incredbly powerful. I was scared of the ocean for a long time after seeing Jaws, as were lots and lots of other people. No videogame could ever do that, because the topics are never simple and real enough to be believable. And if it's not believable then it's not scary. Videogames need to be EXCITING and COHERENT in the time domain. Movies can do cuts and editing to elicit the perfect mood and feeling, where time can be fragmented. But you can't do stuff like that in games, so you lose very important story-telling devices and techniques. It's the story-telling that makes something scary, not just making scary things jump out of dark places at you.

Re:No. (1)

ZombieWomble (893157) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387913)

I really have to agree with you - most games, threats are things to be dealt with. There is rarely something which has a very good chance of catching you and is likely to tear you to little bits - which is understandable, as a game would be rather disheartening if your survival chances were the same as a bit player in a horror movie.

And once you've killed a couple of any given creature, they're no longer scary, as you have established you're more badass than them - Bioshock being the instance du jour, I was quite paranoid in the very beginning of the demo, as I felt rather lost, had no idea where that creature I just saw disembowel a guy was, and was completely defenseless, depending on the intervention of another to have any chance of making it anywhere.

Fast forward a little to even the end of the first level, and it's a whole other kettle of fish - I had a handful of potent firearms, and the ability to electrocute things with a gesture. Suddenly these weird zombie-things aren't much of a threat, so they're not really scary any more - they're now just an obstacle to be overcome with the minimal expenditure of resources.

Bioshock (1)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386441)

I had dreams about Bioshock the night after playing, not scary precisely, but full of a sense of dread and loss. Dreams aren't entirely unusual (I dreamed about yellow dragons after playing lots of Adventure as a kid). Still, it's rare enough that it means I was brought into the world of Bioshock more fully than others in recent memory.

The unique aspect of Bioshock is that the fear of death has been removed. Respawning is fairly painless and I'm armed with a variety of tricks against even the toughest enemies. What's left is a sense of horror at what humanity is capable of, of hubris and atrocities committed for a supposedly just cause. That's a deeper dread, perhaps, than demons leaping out of closets, but just as effective.

Re:Bioshock (1)

Xtense (1075847) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386611)

And that's exactly why I think movies have a bit of an advantage :) . They might not immerse you so totally like a game does, but they get both ends of the stick - they can both scare you in that BLAAARGHAGH!!!111 I AM A SCARY MONSTER! sort of way, AND they can create an incredible atmosphere. It's also exactly why making a good horror movie is a challenge - you need both the sense of immediate danger, and a good background to boot, which requires great writing and acting.

Re:Bioshock (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386849)

Totally agreed.

Movies can set up every little thing about a scary situation, and you have ZERO control.

But in a game, even if they manage to set up everything just right...when it comes right down to it, you're there to kick the ever loving snot out of whatever 'scary' thing might be around the next corner. You KNOW you're going to get your chance to beat that thing, whereas in a movie, you are completely helpless.

Now, I do have a bit of a bias in that I've never been scared by anything in a movie or in a game...startled, yes, but scared? No. I've always had a pretty solid grasp of fiction vs reality.

Most definately (1)

otacon (445694) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385749)

I love horror movies, almost 3/4 of my DVD collection of the horror genre. But they don't really make me scared, it's hard for you to relate to the situation. Games on the other hand put you in the world. I remember when I was playing Condemned and my wife was like how could a video game be scary?. She also didn't understand "how I knew where I was going". Which showed me she didn't understand how emersed one can be in a game.

Re: here's some horror for you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20387449)

Most definately (Score:2)
by otacon (445694) on Tuesday August 28, @12:33PM (#20385749)
( []

Aaron just got owned by a grue.

Don't pick up that gun! (4, Funny)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385777)

You know a demon's going to teleport into the closet when you do! Video games just provide a better environment for horror. Yes, the whole forth wall thing, but also the environment you play in. You often play them alone, in a dark room. You choose how long the suspense lasts before you pickup that gun. In the end, however, you do pickup the gun... and when nothing happens; it gets worse because the environment didn't react the way you expected. Until you turn around of course.

Games are scarier (2, Interesting)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385783)

The screeches of the monkeys in System Shock 2 always freak me out, no matter how many times I play it. (playing BioShock right now and it's nowhere near as scary as SS2 IMHO)

Or the sounds Haunts make in the Thief series.. eek.

Re:Games are scarier (1)

kaellinn18 (707759) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386141)

System Shock 2 is definitely the scariest game I've ever played. I bought it when I was a young teenager when it first came out. I stopped playing it because it freaked me out so badly. I didn't end up beating that game until I was in college. Even then, it was still scary! I had friends on my hall that were captivated by it and would sit in my room and watch me play it. I'm not sure who jumped more, me or them.

Re:Games are scarier (1)

hemorex (1013427) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386231)

The haunts! They sounded so scary until I saw them, and noted the resemblance to Skeletor...

Re:Games are scarier (1)

JorgeSchmt (905156) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386391)

Wow... the haunts in Thief. I had to turn the game off at that point. Its the only game that ever freaked me out. Played it again years later as a jaded programmer and thought 'I could make that sound in CoolEdit, damnit'

So true.... (1)

ZiakII (829432) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385841)

I never get scared by a movie but when playing F.E.A.R, Doom 3 or even better a mod for doom 3 that makes it play like a Rouge game (Dungeon Doom [] ) I can only play for about 1-2 hours before I just need to pause or stop playing and go do something else, I think its due to the fact you fell so engrossed into what you are going to do you start to over think your decisions and it begins to slowly creep into your mind about whats around the next corner, and how it can be your last move. In movies your just sitting there and watching and you can't do a single thing, so why would someone feel engrossed about some stupid character who just ran up the stairs instead of running out the front door?

It can be better (3, Funny)

pthor1231 (885423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385897)

Video games can be much more effective, if the player actually gets immersed in the game. Maybe it could also be that horror video games are a relatively new thing compared to horror films. Once you have seen the one millionth horror movie preview, you are like, sure, whatever, it will be boring because the same shit happens. Maybe video horror games will reach that point eventually. Also, obligatory PA reference: []

Re:It can be better (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386953)

But that's where video games fail...because they ARE video aren't forced to sit and watch scary crap occur, you can DO something about it. I don't know about you, but when I'm playing 'scary' games, I'm LOOKING for those 'creepy' moments as a signal so I can turn the tide. When you're in control, why would you cower in fear as opposed to putting the pain to those that would try to scare you and cause you harm? In video games, there IS nothing scarier than you. (Unless it's a rigged, completely unbeatable game or scenario, and then it's just another movie, except you're annoyed because dammit, it's a game and you're supposed to have choices other than getting slaughtered!)

Alien Doom Total Conversion (5, Insightful)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385935)

I heard good things about Alien Doom so when I finally downloaded it I turned off the lights to get the most from the experience.

For the first 20 minutes or so you are creeping through corridors, always wondering what might appear around the next corner. Nothing much actually happens except that the corridors gradually become more and more covered in alien slime. You go through several levels without actually seeing any enemies, even though you know you must be getting closer to their lair.

All of a sudden an alien jumps at you out of nowhere.

I have never before and never since been more scared by a computer game.

Mod parent insightful! (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386451)

(ok who was the idiot who modded it funny?)

I've also played the Alien Doom mod, and i loved it. Altho i also felt the same fear by playing the Aliens game in the C64, stage 2. You know you had to go through an alien area, that aliens come out of everywhere and you can't run away. And still, you have to go there.

Re:Mod parent insightful! (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387005)

"And still, you have to go there."

What, you mean you'd choose to NOT go there if you could? Why? You're there to kick some alien butt, why on earth would you be scared? Silliness.

Re:Alien Doom Total Conversion (1)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386731)

The first "Aliens versus Predator" [] wasn't a perfect game (the AI, for example, was... iffy), but when you play as a Marine you can really get creeped out. The aliens aren't particularly subtle but they are fast - you can't outrun them and you can't take many hits from them when they reach you. The environments are dark and you have to pick between night-vision or the motion detector - and either way the facehuggers are really tough to spot. More like the movie than the movie was, if you follow.

Playing as an alien is fun in an entirely different way. You can climb on any surface, hide on the ceiling and pounce, etc. More like Spider-Man than any of the Spider-Man games.

Re:Alien Doom Total Conversion (1)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387285)

I agree entirely. The Marine campaign was creepy as hell. Killing the Marines in the Alien campaign was just fun, and killing both as the Predator felt like a standard tactical FPS.

Re:Alien Doom Total Conversion (1)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387561)

The Marine campaign was creepy as hell. Killing the Marines in the Alien campaign was just fun, and killing both as the Predator felt like a standard tactical FPS.

When you think about, that is exactly what I'd expect. Kudos to the developers!

Doom 3 anyone? (1, Insightful)

TheJerg (1052952) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385941)

I used to be scared by movies as a kid... not by what I was seeing on the screen but just of the thought of all of these terrifying monsters coming after me in real life... When I grew up that stopped working on me. On the other hand when I started playing Doom 3 I could only play for short burts at a time because the sense of terror was so tangible. I've played a few other games like F.E.A.R. that can induce that effect as well but no movie recently has caused me to sit and remind myself "It's only a movie. It isn't real." In a game like Doom 3 you don't have time to tell yourself that when a Pinkie wants to eat you and you only have pistol ammo left and it causes for some tense moments.

Re:Doom 3 anyone? (1)

OK PC (857190) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386555)

It was scary in places but ultimately it was let down by some shoddy level design. By half way through I could successfully predict the spawn points, which took the whole shock out of it. Mind you there's a bit with an elevator and a giant monster which completely caught me off guard

Re:Doom 3 anyone? (2, Insightful)

Wordsmith (183749) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387025)

"They took my baby!" Heebie-jeebie hoo-ha scared all night.

And the first appearance of the Pinky? "Wow, huh. That looks tough. HOLYCRAPITSCOMINGHOLYCRAPITSCOMING!"

Re:Doom 3 anyone? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387119)

Doom 3 graphics were scary but that was about it, the scares were cheap shots mostly. Hit trigger point and whoopee monsters teleport behind you or whatever. After the first or second time round it gets old and *yawn*. Maybe there were a few scary bits, but I can't remember any of them.

It's like those crappy movies where they just make a sudden LOUD sound in order to "scare" you. But you're not really scared in those cases just _startled_, because after the movie you laugh and that's it.

A friend sneaking up behind you and going "Boo!", could make you jump, but doesn't really scare you.

A scary movie/game is where _after_ watching/playing, you don't really even want to look at a mirror just in case you see something unexpected behind you ;).

Still, I'm not the horror movie type. Just looking at the direction the world is heading scares me enough already.

Yes (2, Insightful)

Alex777 (1113887) | more than 7 years ago | (#20385977)

The interactivity of a game makes for a scarier and more intense experience than any film can provide, now that graphics are becoming more and more realistic. In a game, the player feels like he's actually a part of the story, rather than merely a spectator.

Re:Yes (1)

garnetlion (786722) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386359)

I find games less scary for that reason - if I'm playing the game, I'm thinking about what I'm doing, and what's going on, whereas I'm much more passive while watching a movie. It's something that happens to me without my control, which I find scarier.

Disclamer: The last time I gamed regularly was when the Sega Genesis was the hip new thing. I have occasionally since then, but not much. That may alter my perspective somewhat.

Its about time and place and immersion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20386041)

If you had asked me in my pre-cynical days, I would have said movies by a long shot. Now I would say videogames.

When I was a young neurotic who believed the universe was conspiring to kill me, many films were filled with horror. This was before I was cynical enough to pull apart the special effects, camera shots, and acting. Movies like Alien caused much distress. Jaws had me looking behind my couch for a shark for days. Disaster films like Earthquake, Towering Inferno, and Poseidon Adventure made me scared to pretty much go anywhere or do anything. And caused many nightmares. Most of these films do nothing for me now. Alien still stands up, but I laugh at most of the things I was scared of.

These days, the only true scares come from videogames. They are immersive, which helps, but mainly movies are public affairs during more normal hours. My videogames get played mostly late night when I am alone, which really gives them an edge over a movie with a hundred people surrounding me.

Games are much better then movies (1)

evaprototype00 (878901) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386083)

I'd say that either Ravenholm in Half-Life2 was pretty scary or the one mission in Thief 3 where you go into the haunted asylum.

Halflife, duh... (4, Interesting)

nweaver (113078) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386091)

The original Half Life was a really classic example of this. You could make a decent monster movie along the same plot, but you wouldn't have quite the tension.

EG, the tension where you are creeping through the silo with the giant tentacles, the first time you meet the big shark-thingy, the elation and then horror as the marines come, etc....

A movie wouldn't be nearly as immersive.

Re:Halflife, duh... (1)

nadamucho (1063238) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386873)

Fscking HEADCRABS!!!!

Re:Halflife, duh... (1)

Fyz (581804) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387581)

I would hold to Alien vs Predator instead. Playing that game i had to take breaks every 20 minutes to slow my heart rate...

I disagree. (4, Insightful)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386263)

Why exactly would a game be inherently better than a movie for the horror genre? Hell, a novel could be just as effective as either one of those mediums.

It comes down to good writing. The reason most horror movies aren't particularly effective is because the writing is such garbage. If these writes were to produce scripts for games those games would be equally ineffective at being scary.

If anything, I'd argue that it's easier to make a good horror movie than it is to produce a scary game. It's very easy to manage pacing in a movie. The entire thing is nicely packaged and the director has complete control over the movie. With a game, in addition to the underlying plot a creator has to be concerned with how the gamer interacts with the game. How to convey the proper atmosphere and provide appropriate challenges without making the game tedious.

Ultimately, this is the problem I've found with nearly all horror games, including the Resident Evil series. The game hits a point where they're wandering back and forth trying to find something, or are given these odd tasks for the sake of providing some level of gameplay ultimately reminding me that I'm just playing a game. With a movie or a novel, I know it's fake, but I don't have to worry about some gameplay mechanic disrupting the experience and thus it's easier for me to become engrossed in the story.

Very different experiences (4, Interesting)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386265)

For me the experience of watching a movie is usually so far removed from that of playing a game that I can't directly compare them. While a movie can use a particular character or characters as surrogates for the audience, youre essentially watching things happen to other people. You can be sympathetically scared for them, but you don't really feel scared for yourself.

When you're playing a game, that avatar on the screen is, for all intents and purposes, you. You're not just watching some movie star go down the stairs to their doom, you have to choose to go down those stairs yourself. The experience of that sort of scare is very different, and to me much more personal, than the one-sided character/spectator relationship in films and such.

The only experience that for me sort of blurs that line between those two types of scares is listening to an audio play, such as radio drama or Big Finish Productions' audio CDs. When I'm listening to one of those I usually have my eyes closed and my imagination turned up high, and thus tend to see things from more of a first-person perspective in my mind's eye. A good horror story on audio can therefore approach the levels of immersion that a good video game provides, without being interactive.

Half Life (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386293)

I can count the number of times a movie made me jump out of my seat on one hand (notably, three of them came from "The Forgotten"), but Half Life's head crabs still give me chills. They weren't even that threatening, really, but somehow they always scare me. Even when I was sure the developers had put a head crab in the dark hallway just around the corner, and even after a few replays, they still managed to make me jump.

Half Life 2's head crabs never struck me the same way, but seeing the fast zombie leaping at me in Ravenholm for the first time sure did it.

Re:Half Life (1)

Xentor (600436) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386431)

Oh hell yeah... That first super-fast, wall-climbing bastard in Ravenholm practically made me jump out of my seat.

Re:Half Life (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386513)

Half-life 2 had the poisonous head crabs, those things screams sent me running in fear. Was insanely hard for one to kill you, but one of them and anything support wise and you were struggling to survive. Absolute nightmare and one hell of a rush.

Bioshock.. Houdini Splicers (1)

darkmayo (251580) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386299)

First time you run into one of those... they got me good. I jumped and sprayed bullets everywhere.

I love horror movies, very few have actually scared me. FEAR creeped me out.. Call Of Cthulu Dark Side of the Earth, that creeps me out havent finished it yet. System Shock 2 gave me some good jumps (back in the day) Clive Barkers undying had me going good. The original Alone in the Dark... yea that was creepy.

Video games are full of titles that I got scared from, horror movies not so much. But damn, I love well done special effects, so I keep watching horror.

Re:Bioshock.. Houdini Splicers (1)

Skiboricus (597702) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386601)

UNDYING.... seriously one of the scariest experiences I have ever had. Playing alone and in the dark I would find myself thinking "I have GOT to get out of this freaking house..." Only to later realize I simply had to turn off the game. Movies can scare but never on the same level as Undying. I was stressed out almost from start to finish.

Silent Hill (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386371)

One of the things that make survival horror games so attracting is that you can die in many horrendous ways. I still remember Harry Mason of SH1 getting caught and eaten by that tentacle thing in the kitchen. Or how Heather's body was dragged by Vatiel after being killed.

Another thing is the first-person perspective, and the fear you experience from having "lived" similar situations in the past. You hear some dogs howling, you can't see barely anything, while your radio keeps playing that static louder and louder.

You just can't make these things happen in a movie. You don't know how the character is going to get killed, because you can't replay. You don't face the consequences of making a decision (left or right?), and are only limited to being a mere witness of the events. In a movie you can't feel the fear of getting killed after realizing you're out of healing items.

Videogames are simply the best of the "worst" that has happened in the horror genre.

To summarize, I'd like to quote the motto for the Silent Hill 3 propaganda: "Everything you never wanted to see."

System Shock 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20386395)

You do the tutorial, then you're in the ship and most everyone else dies, and you're wandering totally alone in a freaky environment armed only with a wrench, until all the sudden you start hearing these freaky screeching noises and your health goes down.

You have to look down at the ground to even notice the fucking radioactive monkey clawing away at you.

Re:System Shock 2 (1)

Avacar (911548) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386575)

To this day, the sound of a monkey followed by the sound of -- what we would most likely consider -- an energy discharge still has me clawing to switch from my wrench over to my gun. Those monkeys were evil.

In a game where every bullet was precious, using them on those monkeys was well spent. System Shock 2 is still, at least in my memory, the best survival horror game I've ever played. (Note: I have not tried Bioshock yet). I felt completely involved with the character and the world. It wasn't some representation I was following around on screen, it was me walking through those corridors.

Re:System Shock 2 (1)

MonorailCat (1104823) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387395)

No comments about the semi-invisible spiders in SS2?

Those things upset me to no end, mostly because you often heard that rattling long before you ever saw anything.

I don't know if games or movies are scarier, but I don't enjoy horror movies, horror games OTOH are great.

Resident Evil (1)

unfunk (804468) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386497)

I jumped about six feet in the air when those dogs jumped through the window. Was NOT expecting that.
Doom 3 also had me screaming loud enough to wake up my flatmate at 3am when a bunch of crap on a table levitated and flew at me through the window (in the game)...

Wheel of Time (1)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386551)

First game that ever scared me was the Wheel of Time game. Second level, inside the "deserted" city of Shadar Logoth at night (which, if you're familiar with the books, you know is a bad place to be). Everywhere you go, there's the sound of gravel crumbling, as if something just ducked out of sight. Whispering noises fill the air, and every now and again there's a faint cry, as if something horrible were in pain. You drop into a darker area, and a voice whispers "Staaaaaaaay" right in your ear, and THEN you see the tendril of fog reaching out to you from a crack in the ground. I actually yelped out loud.

Second game that ever scared me was the FEAR demo. The glimpses of the little girl were already freaking me out, and then at one point I backtracked a bit, climbed a ladder, and she was STANDING RIGHT THERE!

I actually said "yeeeAGGG" and jumped off the ladder.

Re:Wheel of Time (1)

darkmayo (251580) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386825)

THE WAYS.... oh man I forgot about Wheel of Time.. Shadar Logoth was creepy.. effin Mashadar.. but when I got to where you Travel the Ways and the black wind is coming at you.. ooooh damn.. that is creepy.

The scariest experience I'd ever had (2, Interesting)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386571)

...was playing Fatal Frame in the pitch black of night. No movie has ever terrified me more than the tension that builds up with the ambient soundtrack and the tiny light that tells you something is near, to activate the camera and go into 1st person mode, creeping along to find the ghostly image before it jumps out at you.

Anyone who's played it will no doubt remember the chilling moment while you tiptoe down the Rope Hallway and the red light comes on, looking up and coming face to face with Vengeance.

Silent hill (4, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386621)

Silent hill sums it up perfectly, the movie wasn't too far removed from the games, but the movie isn't scary compared to the games and it's for 1 simple reason. Movies will continue no matter what, you can walk away and shrug and they will still play. Where as in a game you take control and must continue the fear to continue the plot.

Silent Hill games make you feel like at any moment you could be jumped by some insanely powerful monster and then it toys with you with the radio, a little noise here, a little growl there, is it just random noise or is a complete freak out monster about to maim you? who knows? These things get to us, we have no idea -how- to rationally deal with these things because they are beyond all logic, movies we can go "CGI" "Make up" "hero must survive" and then we play silent hill and suddenly it's "oh fuck, what the hell is going on?"

One thing I would note is the cultural differences, Japanese horror tends to work on tension and supernatural things. Ghosts, bumps in the night, general feeling of unease. Where as Western horror tends to be more gore and shock, the gore and shock has long ago lost it's shock value to us adults, where as the feeling of tension is very hard to break no matter what.

Compare Resident evil (Western horror style) with Silent Hill (Japanese horror style) and you'll see one is scary for a while, where as the other continues to be scary even if you're in a safe room with nothing creepy ever.

And just because it needs mentioning. The mannequin beheading event in Silent hill 3 is the scariest moment I've ever had in a game, just insanely creepy even though it presented no danger to me, it felt like I HAD to leave that room or something would behead me next.

Re:Silent hill (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387763)

Where as in a game you take control and must continue the fear to continue the plot.

BTW, Have you guys thought that making a Silent Hill series (a-la "24" or "Lost") would be a hit?

Horror... even in MMORPGs (1)

uofitorn (804157) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386723)

Sure, it didn't involve a dark hallway in a haunted mansion with Zombies around every corner, but the scariest game I ever played was Everquest. Because of the large penalty for dying that possibly involved both a long corpse run and a significant experience point reduction, one truly feared death (at least in the first year or two). When you were deep inside a dungeon, or exploring a new location for the first time, the sense of trepidation and consternation was palpable.

Even though I no longer play EQ, when I think back to those days, I have much more vivid memories of the close encounters and adrenaline induced situations in EQ than I do from any other MMORPG I've played since, including WoW, Vanguard, etc. I attribute that in no small way to the real and legitimate death penalty in the game.

Agreed (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386759)

I played Doom 3 with a good surround-sound setup and a group of people watching. People's reactions were stupendous, and it just fed my adrenaline. The key is to play it on a hard setting - the idea is to be afraid, and be cautious - not to be Rambo. There is tension when you have to count your ammo and walk slowly to avoid being surprised.

It also helps to be very comfortable with the controls. I've played FPS's long enough that the controls are extension to my brain. I think forward and my character moves forward. If you look down at the keyboard and have to think about it then it becomes more like watching a play from a distance -- you see the stage, the guy on the light board, etc. You can't get as emotionally involved.

I remember two particular events in the early levels of Doom 3:

1) I approached a staircase in a dark room. You approach the stairs and you hear metal screeching and you barely perceive movement. Then a demon leaps out. It was brilliant: First you hear "something" but are unsure what, then you're eyes perceive movement so you strain to look closer, then something large and frightening appears. It was very "cinematic"

2) Personal involvement can make the game more interesting in ways that would not work in a movie. Example: I returned to a room I was already in and said aloud "okay, I've already been through here and there's no other way in so I'm safe" and I started to run for it. Suddenly, a body falls from the ceiling right in front of me and I look up just in time to see a demon come down and nearly land on me. The adrenaline hits and I managed to duck a fireball and fire a shotgun blast at pointblank range. After that, everyone looked at me and said "nice job" -- That could not have been played out in a movie. If the character said something that obvious everyone would KNOW something is about to happen. And if the character did something superb in response it would be unbelievable. But when it wa the person right there playing the game it went from cheesy and unbelievable to a combination of fully and cool.

I know Doom 3 was not popular since it just re-hashed old concepts, but it was moments like these that made it one of the most fun games I've ever played.

Movies rule (2, Insightful)

Charlie Kane (1098491) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386777)

I'd have to vote for the moment when the green alien dude (whom you've mistaken for a fellow astronaut in need of rescue from a forbidding otherworldly fractal-scape) pops up in front of your damn windshield and starts banging his way into your spaceship in Rescue on Fractalus, one of the first games ever to come out of Lucasarts. I used to play that on an Atari 800XT and it used to scare the hell out of me.

But there's a difference between that (relatively) easy videogame shock and the sense of deep disquiet that a really good horror movie can instill in you. It's true that the average scary game may make you jump more often than the average scary movie -- which rarely seems interested in the kind of classic horror-movie atmospherics that inform current game design -- but that's because the average scary movie really, really sucks. They're targeted at an audience of high-schoolers and/or gorehounds. Rob Zombie's movies may be *meaner* than anything this side of Manhunt, but they're certainly not scarier.

But the best scary movies are about something bigger than jolts. It may be hard, after several decades' fetishization of H.R. Giger's designs for the original Alien, to understand just how deeply creepy those insectoid, vaguely sexual, shapes up on screen were. It's easy to forget, watching the original Halloween at home on a letterboxed Anchor Bay DVD, what that movie looked and felt like, back in the day, when it was playing up on the big Panavision-sized screen in the kind of cavernous movie house that doesn't exist anymore.

There are some contemporary examples as well. Before their visual tropes became the stuff of cliché, Japanese horror movies like Ringu and Kairo brought the scary pretty effectively. 28 Weeks Later spun anxiety about avian flu and the Iraq war into a haunting zombie yarn about the dissolution of the family unit and wartime theatrics. The Descent had some real white-knuckle moments involving strangely deformed creatures in the near-total darkness. I love Bioshock and the immersive experience it provides in all its Dolby Digital 5.1 glory but the seams show -- the lines of dialogue spoken by the splicers are repeated too often, the gamepad mechanics are a little too abstract, the high-polygon creatures and texture-mapped environments just a little too uncanny-valley. Shocks-per-minute rate aside, the movies provide by far the more enveloping -- and aesthetically compelling -- psychological experience.

Project Firestart. (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387793)

I'd have to vote for the moment when the green alien dude (whom you've mistaken for a fellow astronaut in need of rescue from a forbidding otherworldly fractal-scape) pops up in front of your damn windshield and starts banging his way into your spaceship

That reminds me of this other survival horror game in the 80's. Project Firestart. Has anyone here played it?

Deus Ex (1)

Anxarcule (884937) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386785)

Surprised nobody mentioned Deus Ex yet. That's a VERY immersive game and one I would recommend people try even though it's got to be about 5 or 6 years old by now. They got a lot of things right in that game. You can download the 1st mission demo freely online.

The 1st mission isn't so scary, but... I can think of several times that I just got totally freaked out. Icarus talking to you through the infolink, MiB's bursting through the apartment door, pretty much all of Area 51...

apples to apples please (1)

jadin (65295) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386787)

You have to compare the best of each in order to make a somewhat balanced comparison. Comparing the best horror video game isn't very fair if you use your average horror film. That said the scariest (IMO) films have been the psychological. The ones where the scare factor isn't just a creepy thing jump at the right moment with a loud noise to emphasize it. The ones where you're thinking about how scary that was the rest of the night (or longer).

The examples I can think of are The Ring, Blair Witch Project, (I'm told The Exorcist belongs here but haven't seen it.)

Now video games on the other hand have been the "creepy thing jumps at you" type for the most part. Off the top of my head I haven't played any games where the psychological impact was what freaked me out. Once a video game truly taps into this it could be insanely scary. However, to my limited knowledge (hint hint /.ers) noone has accomplished this yet.

Just last night... (2, Interesting)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386809)

... I was playing Bioshock. I had just killed my first big daddy. I was badly injured, I had almost no ammo left. I looked for a vending machine to buy some ammo and health when a SECOND big daddy comes around. I hid under the stairs in the game and hoped he wouldn't see me because I was so low on everything. I saved and went to bed.

Let me breathe a bit after that first encounter. That was brutal.

Great for immersion, not so much for storytelling (1)

pmatchstick (1141067) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386879)

Depends what you want from your horror. The author seems to want a roller coaster ride, which games excel at giving you... Video games are certainly much more immersive and are better at creating an atmosphere. Whether they're first or third person whatever happens on that screen feels like it's happening to you.

But if you want to talk about horror from a storytelling standpoint... The best horror games are still cartoonish, sophmoric and one-dimensional compared to the best horror movies (and books for that matter.) For whatever reason the quality of writing just hasn't evolved yet. I'm not saying it can't be done, though I am beginning to suspect that there are some pretty big roadblocks. For example the character you inhabit has to be in many ways a blank slate, so it's a strange hybrid of your mind and decision making powers and someone else's background-- great for immersion, not so great for character development.

Video games and movies are completely different (1)

Ynsats (922697) | more than 7 years ago | (#20386909)

A movie will not scare me at all. Most horror movies that get pawned off as horror use simple parlor tricks like flashing lights, loud sounds, loud music and fast movement to give the audience a thrill. There is no real horror in a movie anymore. There is no sense of impending doom that keeps you on your toes and the hair on the back of your neck standing up. Even with surround sound and a complete multi-channel soundtrack, the movies just don't do it anymore. The mystique is gone.

Now a video game, think about it. They have the same surrounding, multi-channel soundtrack and you are usually sitting within inches of a screen that will fill your entire field of vision and unlike the movies, you have to make decisions that directly impact the outcome of the game. In a movie theater, you are sitting on your butt stuffing your face with popcorn and candy in a cushy chair, usually with a person next to you and thinking about how much you have to pee because you polished off that $16 64 oz soda. The video game, you are usually not eating anything because it requires both hands and you need to concentrate because you are looking for clues to attain your next goal in the game. In a movie all you have to focus on is what alien or monster or whatever is gonna jump out next. If you are concentrating of accomplishing a task in a game, a monster jumping out and trying to cause you harm is unnerving. Add to that the music and sound effects and the fact that your monitor is filling your entire field of vision and you get buried in the game and you become part of it.

It amounts to sensory overload and your brain gets into fight or flight mode when it's trying to process all that information. Consequently when a flaming skull comes flying at you out of the fog, you bug out because it's just doubled the amount of sensory input you received and your brain is in self-preservation mode. your adrenalin spikes, your heart rate goes up and if you are like me, you yell profanities at the game and start pushing mouse and keyboard buttons harder than you need to. I don't ever recall getting those sensations in a movie theater. There is just too much information not related to the topic of the movie to distract you. A video game gives you the ability minimize those distractions by shrinking the environment in which you are interacting with the video game. It's hard to be scared in a movie theater full of silly, screaming teenage girls jumping and holding on to equally silly, laughing teenage boys. Now, in your home, in a dark room with nothing but your and your glowing box of a monitor, yeah, that'll spook you out.

YES (1)

Maximilianop (903017) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387215)

I vote a soundly YES! When I played Eternal Darkness I was so much more scared at sounds, images and inexpected events than I were with any movie.

Video Games Don't Scare Me. Movies Scare Me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20387411)

No video game has topped the flexing door scene from the original Haunting. They're not going to match the incredibly bleak ending of the (again, original) Night Of the Living Dead. None could, unless video games suddenly get psychological depth. And they can't have psychological depth, because hitting things (or opening doors, or running down corridors) is a really, really small part of what we do every day. Good horror plays on multiple levels, only a few of which are accessible to the video game maker.

I remember jumping out of my skin, playing Doom II (for Christ's sake!), the first time I heard the Cyber-demon bellow. On the other hand, it never made me lie awake at night, wondering what will happen to me when I'm dead. Admittedly, no Resident Evil movie's going to send me into an existential crisis either, unless I get so bored I slit my wrists halfway through.

Video games rely on horror levels 1&2- Bears and Lightning. Bad horror movies stay on that level, too, because even rubber monsters are easier to fake than tension. Good horror movies have the full range- Bears and Lightning are joined by scary things like Shame, Shit, Disease, Getting Old, Falling in Love, Going Crazy, Telling Lies, Betrayal, Weird People, and Does God Exist? among others. These themes are very hard to depict well, and frighteningly, in a video game. Can you imagine playing The Stone Tape video game?

Even films that are full of Big Loud Horribles, like the (again, original) Texas Chainsaw Massacre, can have every kind of fear baked into them. Video game makers have never even approached the terrifying complexity of the real world.

Psychological thrillers (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387965)

Good horror movies have the full range- Bears and Lightning are joined by scary things like Shame, Shit, Disease, Getting Old, Falling in Love, Going Crazy, Telling Lies, Betrayal, Weird People, and Does God Exist? among others.

And who says videogames don't have that? In Silent Hill 1, due to bad decisions in the game, I had to kill Cybil (a cop in the game who helped you go through a lot of stuff) because she went zombie.

As I approached and she tried to give me a last shot, I had to give her the final blow. Later this followed a scene where Charles was depressed (or was it my imagination / distorted memory? Even better) because he had killed her. Congratulations! You're now a murderer.

In SH3, Heather has a dicussion with this guy in glasses, where he hints at the possibility that heather might not be killing monsters, but other human beings.

Videogames can force you to do evil things JUST FOR THE SAKE OF CONTINUING THE GAME. Personally, I don't like those kind of decisions in the games, but the point is that videogames can do everything movies do to mess with your head. If they don't, it's because of stupid corporate decisions and that old "but that doesn't sell" crap.

Eternal Darkness (1)

Leo Sasquatch (977162) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387543)

hands-down winner of the 'messing-with-your-head' game.

The adrenalin jolt at the very beginning where the cut-scene with the room full of zombies stops being a cut-scene, but there's nothing to tell you this. The warping graphics the more insane you became, which actually made it difficult to navigate, and just gave you a feeling that everything was wrong because perspective had shifted. The first time I saw the big fly walking around on the screen, and when I went to the TV to brush it off, it was on the *inside*...

Pissed all over the Resident Evil series from a great height in all respects, but didn't get the marketing. I don't like the REvil games much, not because they're scary, but because they're difficult for some silly reasons. Static save points, little or no ammo, guns so feeble they're practically useless, inabilty to improvise weapons and endless schlepping around on pointless fetch-quests. Fuck the gun, give me a sharpened spade, and let's see how scary these zombies are with no heads.

I'm really dating myself here... (2, Interesting)

Commander Doofus (776923) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387619)

...but a great original 1985-era scary game was Rescue on Fractalus [] (it used actual fractals to generate an alien landscape, hence the title). You'd rescue downed pilots, who would see you land, run under your ship disappearing from view and (pause) there'd be a taptaptap to let them in. The trick was sometimes, after the pilot had disappeared from view, the "pilot" was really an alien and it'd SUDDELNY JUMP UP ON YOUR WINDSHIELD COMPLETE WITH SCARY MUSIC AND IT'S BANGING TO GET IT KILLITKILLITKILLIT!!! Great times, I'd play it with a friend and we'd both about wet ourselves.

My vote goes to.... (2, Insightful)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387671)

one little section in Max Payne... That dreamish sequence where he walks into the dark on that vine-ish looking tightrope... Mayhaps it's jus' 'cause I'm a parent, but hearing that dead baby cry and call out while surrounded by darkness gave my goosebumps goosebumps.

Game.... (1)

kurokaze (221063) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387795)

While The Ring and The Grudge had its moments, it was more shock and horror (the cat bay notwithstanding).

BUT, Silent Hill 3 was so creepy that I couldn't get myself to play past the first room... yes.. it freaked me out that much. There was a feeling of dread that I couldn't keep going.. yikes..

Horror Videogames FTW (1)

Soiden (1029534) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387803)

The only movie that scares me is 'The Exorcist', and you can note that's a 30-years old movie. In contrast, I find Silent Hill series and Resident Evil series very nice in terror effectiveness.

Well.. (2, Informative)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387811)

Look at you, Hacker. A pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors. How can you challenge a perfect, immortal machine?

Doom 3, anyone? (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387929)

Even with my crapp-assed Radeon X300SE, as long as the lights were off and the speakers cranked, that game nearly scared the shit out of me at times.

They Hunger (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 7 years ago | (#20387941)

One of the scariest games I've played is a mod for the original Half Life called "They Hunger".The graphics are of course dated today,but the author really knew how to make a scary game, and not just in that "something just jumped out at me" sense. The sounds,the creepy locales,all came together to make for a VERY scary game.If you haven't given it a try,you're in for a treat- []

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