Ten Game Development Vices, Part Two
Eden Concept Document

Do You Enjoy Fear?

Do you enjoy feeling afraid? Do you seek out games that give you an experience of primeval terror? We're interested in hearing from people who actively enjoy feeling afraid, primarily in videogames. What do you like about feeling afraid? What games have best captured this feeling for you?

To be clear, we're not interested in experiences of pressure, tension or excitement - just pure terror, the kind that makes the hair on your neck stand on end, destroys all conscious thought, and floods you with relief when you escape it. If you like games or experiences that give you these kinds of feelings, please leave a comment.

We would be especially grateful if you could complete the following sentence:

I love the feeling of fear and terror when...

Please share your perspective in the comments. Thanks for your assistance!


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I love the feeling of fear and terror when you turn around and there's a monster behind you, or it appears from where you don't expect it, and have minimal ammunition. The games I refer to for this are Resident Evil Remake on the GC, Doom3, and Resident Evil4. It's the sudden adrenaline rush when the unexpected suddenly happens and makes you realise you ARE about to die, and if you survive the release is awesome. On surviving these situations I tend to pause the game and just grin widely at myself for about five minutes.

I love the feeling of fear and terror in games when I am playing in the same room and my husband or close friends, and we are experiencing it together, and we feel very close and bonded during that time. When it is over, we have been through something difficult together and will talk about it later and reminisce about "surviving" the game.

I love the feeling of fear and terror when your sense of safety and security is taken away from you. A game which I believe accomplishes this is 'Dead Space'; through a combination of the following:
-AtmosFEARic environments (creepy lighting, blood & bodies, eerie sounds, signs of struggle which tell a story, etc.)
-Enemies which can attack you at anytime, anywhere and when you least expect it
-Powerful enemies which are seemingly indestructible, resilient, or capable of resurrecting/regenerating

One example of this from my experience in Dead Space is being hunted throughout a level by a regnerating boss monster. I managed to put it down a couple times, but it kept regenerating and getting back up to chase me. The realisation that I couldn't kill the monster with the weapons I had, and that my only option for survival was flight, had my hair on end as I desperately tried to dodge the clutches of this unstoppable monster whilst waiting panic-stricken for a door to slide open or an elevator to arrive.

Thanks for the comments! This is really interesting stuff... It's fascinating that all three of you highlight different aspects of the experience of terror as your centrepoint - DJ Pastore points to the relief, Jane to the shared unity, and Chang Hyun to the experience of panic.

Thanks again!

I love the feeling of fear and terror when I know there is something out there, looking for me. I can hear its heavy footsteps and ragged breathing. Maybe I'll catch a glimpse of it as I push myself deeper into a dark place that I know, in the end, won't keep me hidden. I love knowing it's just a matter of time.

Maybe this is closer to vertigo, but I like those moments in a 2D platformer when you almost miss a jump and your heart flutters for just a split second, when you are not sure if you are going to make the landing or not. :)

Hey Chris!

I love the feeling of fear and terror when, after already being at a heightened level of jumpiness from a scary game (Doom I, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem), I realize that I'm in -serious- trouble. Whatever trap I'm in is about to snap shut, and I need to fight like hell to get out.

Usually what follows is a frantic attempt to do so, often with me shouting out loud. Afterwards, if successful, I stop and catch my breath, gleeful and relieved. If I wasn't successful I stop, catch my breath, and go back to try again. In that later case, it's with a joyful intensity that I will definitely get it this time, now that I know what the future holds.

I do not like the feeling of fear and terror at all. Nada. I don't like to be startled, shocked, or disgusted -- which are usually accompanying feelings in the survival horror genre.

I like suspense, which is a whole other thing. Suspense need not be generated by threatening me with an imminent loud and gory death. It can be generated entirely through dialog, if the dialog is good enough. The best plays create tremendous suspense. Shylock wants a pound of Antonio's flesh! How is Antonio going to get out of it?

I love the feeling of fear and terror when it feels like an altered state of consciousness. I get this in cases where there's a continued sense of perceptual uncertainty and no clear path to resolving that uncertainty - I guess it's like getting high on the heightened adrenaline that builds up over time when there's no release.

I felt this way early on in Penumbra: Overture, before I figured out how to deal with the dogs and didn't know what either they or my character were capable of. I got so freaked out by that game I kept having to get up and leave the room, which seems weird in retrospect given how tame it is. But I think its relative unconventionality has something to do with it. I don't get this kind of lingering vertigo from classic survival horror games or from most horror movies. Genre conventions bring stability to an experience, and it's the lack of stability and the vertigo it causes that I enjoy.

My problem with horror movies and scary games is the unfair advantage. Every time I let my friends talk me into watching or playing a horror title I still see the same trick: "the director knows when something will jump out at me and I don't". In that kind of setup you can scare anyone with anything, rubber chickens included. That's just masochism right there for me.
I realise that as sensitivity decreases, people need stronger stimuli to experience the same effect. That's probably why recent movies look like 'Charlie and the Tomato Soup Factory'.

Thanks for the comments everyone! Not much to say in specific response, but it's interesting to read people's perspectives on this subject.

I love the feeling of fear when all the lights are off and I'm playing a game that has monsters jumping out from the dark with only the light from the screen. The adrenalin rush when something appears out of a dark corner and runs at you, all teeth and claws, is worth a hundred bungee jumps. Why do dangerous sports and risk death when you can get the same adrenalin rush in the safety of your own home?

Dale: thanks for your account! Why risk death? Well, bungee jumping isn't really *that* risky. :p But remember that some people don't enjoy imagining scary monsters, and others haven't the imagination to enjoy the monsters as you and I might. :)

Best wishes!

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