Features & News

HOLD ME: Horror in video-games

February 19, 2013, Author: OJ Borg

Fear is a funny thing. Growing up I was surrounded by school friends who bragged about the amount of times they had seen Nightmare on Elm Street. How they knew the words to Hellraiser. How they had done Ouija boards, summoned ghosts and punched them in the dick. They didn’t seem to show any sense of being scared by these movies.

I, on the other hand, have always been a massive wuss when it comes to horror, and in particular being scared. I’m still, at 33.9 years old, slightly perturbed by Ghostbusters. I’m not just saying this as a comedy thing. Zuul scares me. (Unlike Gozer the Gozerian who I just think is fit; I mean she’s just so limber).


I’ve always blamed this on an overactive imagination. Great for being creative, but a bit of bane when you are dating and start hiding behind you prospective new girlfriend’s Nirvana cardigan whilst watching Event Horizon. Once again a true story, and not something the maidens of Leicester look at as a particularly positive trait.

So if a film scares me as a viewer, then I have always found the fear of playing a game with horror elements absolutely terrifying. A rush for sure, but still something that will linger with me.

The reason for this admission is in seeing the trailer for the new Aliens: Colonial Marines that is doing the rounds. It’s made me want to own and play the game, but even the trailer is making me freak. The reviews for it have been fairly interesting so far but I can’t overly comment on horror games and how good/bad they are, as I really have struggled to play them over the years. Incidentally, the first one I really remember playing and totally losing the plot at was the first incarnation of Aliens on the Amstrad. Here it is in all its 8-bit, non-scary glory.

I played this before I had even seen the film, a film I had desperately wanted to watch (and now rate as one of my favourites), but failed to get past the first chest burst. Over the years I have struggled with Doom, Castle Wolfenstein, Resident Evil and even House of the Dead on the arcade, let alone touching things like F.E.A.R. or Dead Space.

Now obviously I haven’t made myself out to be much of a gruff bloke, but I do believe that the immersion and emotional investment you make in these games gives a multiplication in the intensity of the emotions you feel. The fact that it is, sort of, you that is being hunted, terrorised and harried means that you will end up more scared than from a film. It can’t not, and the development of 3D reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift (see here), will mean a larger laundry load than before in the Borg household, and a massive leap forward in what will be possible in the scare game arena. The test game for OR is a version of Doom that even hardened fright fans are finding a little freaky. So what is scarier, a film or a game? Personally, I say the latter.

My good pal Dancad is not someone who I would say scares easily (I mean he manages to look in a mirror almost daily), but when I mentioned this theory to him, he regaled me of the sheer terror he felt when playing Silent Hill on his own combined with noise cancelling headphones and a large TV. When he made the eight-minute walk into the mist, this was the point that freaked him the most and left him a quivering wreck. Something that was apparently designed specifically to make the players feel isolated, and thus scared.

I can’t verify any of this stuff he told me due to being a massive blouse, but here is his text:

A laundry list of terror.

If you want to see if you are more of a man/woman than I, then T3 have a list of the ten scariest games ever here, of which I’ve played one. Briefly.