I pride myself on having very open game tastes. There is very little that I am completely unwilling to try and, in fact, trying weird games that don’t sound like my sort of thing have led me to some amazing titles (Danganronpa is coming to mind). In spite of my best efforts however, I cannot get into the horror genre and refuse to try games of this type because of one key reason: I am a huge baby.
My issue with horror games is a bit confusing, as I am not easily scared in any other form of media. My favorite book is The Stand by Stephen King, I go to horror movies and don’t even flinch, and I can even watch others play horror games if I am interested in the story. Still, the second that I am attempting to play the game, I don’t make it far. Since there are a lot of fantastic horror games out there, my inability to play them has been frustrating. Why can’t I enjoy this highly popular genre?
The answer, I suspect, boils down to immersion. When I read a book or watch a movie, there’s this level of distance that keeps me out of the minds of the characters I am watching or reading. In a game, however, I am directly controlling a person who is scared and alone, causing me to relate to the character’s plight and form a connection. As soon as that connection is formed, I am too immersed in the game, causing everything to become far too scary for my tastes.
Why do I do this? When other people play horror games and enjoy them, do they have the same issue with immersion? Do they actually enjoy that connection? These questions haunt me as I look through my backlog at all of the horror titles that I am unwilling to play. Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Until Dawn, and Outlast are all titles collecting dust on my shelf as I work up the courage to press “play”.
If my fear of horror games kept me from avoiding just this singular genre, this wouldn’t be a huge problem. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. When I played The Vanishing of Ethan Carter a few years back, I couldn’t finish the game until a friend was willing to play through the jump-scare heavy bit in the mines on my behalf. I had a similar issue with Bioshock Infinite due to the asylum level having a notorious jump-scare at the end. It feels downright embarrassing to get almost all of the way through the game, only to be stopped by something so trivial.
This is why I reach out for help from the blogging community. First of all, if you personally have had a difficult relationship with horror games, how did you get better acquainted with the genre? Secondly, are there any “beginner” horror games that will get me into the genre without completely terrifying me? Since October is starting up and that is the dedicated “spooky” month, I’d like to give a few games a try and slowly, but surely, dip my toes into the plethora of games I have been missing out on.
Thanks for reading, and for (hopefully) not judging!