In the past few years we’ve seen the dwindling of one of gaming’s most classic genres. To much of the dismay of those with a penchant for adrenaline, deep masochistic desires or just to laugh at someone else’s misery, the horror genre was dying.
But back when, it was always on somebody’s lips, gamer or no gamer. There was always gossip about that “One terrifying game,” how a friend of a friend had peed his pants playing it. Rumors would abound about how, right after playing these games, people would start to see and hear things. All exaggerations, of course, but it always gave you the sensation that there was something very much alive about this side of gaming. It was so much so that people went out of their way to create rumors and fables based on the experience of playing these games, heck you had fanatics and extremists of all types who were going as far as making nasty rumors about the “evil” that lied in horror games. And up until very recently that had all been gone. Completely.
You had big companies like Capcom for example, with their famed franchise Resident Evil, who spontaneously decided to tone down the horror and pump up the action, all the way to the horrendous broken disappointment that Resident Evil 6 was. Dead Space went from acceptably horrifying to a downright action trek. The big question is, what the hell happened? Simple, publishers and the casual gaming audience.
To make it as straight forward as possible we can state a simple theory: supply and demand. It’s that basic.
It’s sad really, because it’s not the hardcore gamers fault, rather it’s due to the insane and sudden flow of casual players who entered the gaming world for games like Gears of War, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and the other ridiculous plethora of action games now available in the market. That’s not saying that these games are bad, but it certainly had an effect on the gaming industry.
The idea that playing scary games was fun or “cool” had become a thing of the past and now most people took to shooting things and skipping through cutscenes if they didn’t have explosions. Publishers were forced to satisfy their audience and release games that not only became less and less challenging (I’m looking at you Assassins Creed), but also pretty much removed any other stress causer: Puzzles, figuring out the controls, thinking for yourself, going two steps without a hint, challenging gameplay even in normal, and finally scares.
But wait! Horror fans rejoice, the Indy industry is here to save us!
We’ve seen a sudden and crazy downpour of horror games lately, especially if you spend too much time on Youtube. Pay attention and you’ll notice that these games are developed pretty much exclusively by Indy companies. From the likes of Slender to the labyrinthine trek of Amnesia (Mostly referring to the Dark Descent) it’s all been a small group of people with really good ideas. I can’t say I can readily place where specifically it came from, but Amnesia: The Dark Descent is now world renown for a reason. The way that it seemingly brought back horror was sublime. It put you in the mind of a character who had no sense of identity (Hence the Amnesia part) and was locked in a mansion filled with horrid monsters with barely a semblance of a goal. Great way to set up a really, really scary game? Yeah, pretty much.
Another great thing we have to thank for this is the internet. Yes, the internet.
We have the internet to thank for Slender. If not for the creation of the great mythos that Slender is now, Horror gaming wouldn’t be pushing the boundaries it is now. Which, within itself, is thanks to the Youtube let’s players.
Let’s face it, Youtube is an internet sensation and EVERYBODY visits it, sometimes daily, and what better way to experience horror than vicariously? We like laughing at other people, and there are some great entertainers in Youtube that provide this. Its’a great way to get acquainted with horror in gaming. Some of us have even stepped into thorough analysis of the genre through these players and games like: Penumbra, Amnesia, Slender, SCP Containment Breach and the recently release Outlast.
And now thanks to all the great let’s players out there putting the “Horror” back in Horror Games we might just see the resurrection of this exhilarating gaming genre. People have started clamoring for more of these games, and not only to watch, but to play as well. If immersion is what you seek, horror is your best bet. I know I will be picking them up!
Welp, I’m ready to start hearing bump in the night. Are you?