Category: Gaming Feature

Editorial: Horror, And The Modern Video Game Landscape

Sweat pours down his face. He made it out just in time, but he’s not so sure about his friends. They split up a little ways back; not out of convenience, but necessity. He wants to keep moving, keep running away from whatever Lovecraftian terror is so close behind. But for a few blissful, illogical seconds, he stops dead in his tracks.

Playing a video game is all about manipulation. You manipulate your character on-screen, and the tools or weapons that character uses. You decide when that character walks, or runs, or fights, or doesn’t. You can keep them healthy and treat them well, or have them suffer interminable pain because you weren’t good or smart enough to avoid it. It’s an incredible burden that’s placed on the player, one that if executed perfectly would keep tension mounting and fear building. To be responsible for the death of a character you’ve come to care about would be, well, horrifying.

The Adventures of Lolo (NES, 1989)

In the early days of console video gaming, there seemed to be little embarrassment at exploiting broad, rote story arcs in service of a few hours of electronic soothing. Nintendo, in particular, has this reality stamped and branded into their history — what the story of Mario (who I think it’s safe to call Nintendo’s Jesus) questing to save a kidnapped princess lacks in creative artfulness it makes up for in accessibility.