I guess the initial answer to this question is pretty simple – we stop playing the games. The horror genre in general has always been a niche genre, and many people will generally try to avoid watching horror movies, or playing horror games. But horror games, just like many other genres, keep becoming more realistic, and today I’ll be looking at in what ways the realism is increased, and also the consequences hereof.
In short I was inspired to write this post out of two things. One, I get the chance to play a horror game with an Oculus Rift (Virtual Reality glasses) on Wednesday. And two, I stumbled across a different type of horror game created for the phone that uses Augmented Reality.
The two are related in their potential, as they both bring us much closer to the horror scenarios, albeit fictional. The Oculus Rift removes one of our most important “defence” mechanisms when watching a horror film, or playing a game – the ability to look away. It gives us momentary respite from what is on the screen, and allows us to consciously separate fiction from reality. This is not possible in the same way with the Oculus Rift, as these “glasses” cover your eyes and their surrounding area entirely, and when you are in the game, and move your head, the person you are playing moves his/her head as well. So in a first person perspective game, this takes the level of immersion to an entirely new level! The way in which your own physical head movement is represented through actual movement in the game can make the experience much more intimate. The only way of getting away is by physically removing the entire headset, which I don’t believe can go quite fast enough in some situations. More on this though next week, after I have actually tried the game Dread Halls. Providing I don’t actually die of a heart attack.
Now, on to another game called Night Terrors. These games really make it very clear that they are horror games don’t they? It looks to become quite a unique game, as it uses Augmented Reality. What this basically means is that the game takes our reality, and in this case through a phone camera, supplements it (changes it) into an alternate and somewhat more horrifying version. Take a look at the video below for a preview of the game:
Horrifying right? So if you didn’t watch it, in short terms the game uses your phones camera, and on your phone sceen, instead of seeing your home as it usually is, you see a version taken out of a horror film, which includes scary ghosts and chilling sounds. Now, as if this was not enough, imagine placing your phone within something like an Oculus Rift (Which already does exist by the way). You would literally be placing yourself in the midst of a horror film, where the only way of moving is by using your own two feet. Good luck.
I think we can agree that these advances in technology are definitely making horror games all the more scary. And there are lots of people out there applauding this, but then again, many are not. There is an audience for horror games out there, but there is a real danger that the manufacturers of horror games could lose some of their audience with the increased immersion, with only the most die hard fans being able to actually play such games.
We might soon see a time where people in the horror game industry must think about how horrifying can we actually make this game, taking into consideration how realistic it is?
I know I am personally not the most seasoned at the horror genre, and I may very well discover my limits on Wednesday, and/or find out how far these limits will possibly extend. Until then, sweet dreams..