Horror games have long had a problem with the “horror” component. The reliance on a very particular form of horror – the jumpscare – has been the primary mechanic for spooking players. In this essay I examine some aspects for how a different form of horror – a form of tension or dread – can be evoked within a player instead.
Horror as a genre of video games can be both incredibly appealing and a source for a lot of debate. One major point of contention is what is really “scary.” However, I present the argument that trying to argue about what is and isn’t scary is ultimately pointless, as it confuses a very personal experience for a point of objective debate.
What makes a given game mechanic and a given genre “compatible”? As easy as it might be to say that some combinations aren’t compatible, the problem is actually much more difficult to solve, and demands careful attention.