Today I had the privilege of witnessing Dean Hall (Day Z/Bohemia), Alistair Hope (Alien Isolation/Creative Assembly), Will Porter (Project Zombiod/The Indie Stone) and Maciej Binkowski (Dying light/Techland) discuss the topic of fear and horror in video-games.
When discussing why people would subject themselves to fear Binkowski explained that actively taking part in simulated fear is not the same as experiencing actual fear and that this is because when we feel it we instinctively want to return to safety. When playing a horror game or watching a movie we are already within a safe environment. Binkowski expanded on this by stating that once you take away the feeling of being unsafe you are left only with the adrenaline rush that you experience when scared.
Hope then added that this rush of adrenaline works hand in hand with the sense of achievement that comes with overcoming that which you are trying to escape or defeat.
Porter added to the conversation by expressing the belief that in survival horror in particular, the feeling of being hunted and chased appeals to a primal instinct in all of us. Hall then concluded the conversation by stating that fear is a powerful human emotion that plays an enormous part in life, he believes that this is why survival horror games such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Outlast and the upcoming Alien Isolation (Which I have played, check out the article) are being met with such acclaim and success.
they then spoke briefly on ways of taking the cliché story of saving a princess from a castle and turning it into a horror, they expressed the idea of a game similar in style to that of Amnesia, in which you must navigate around a dark castle as the princess while a mad knight hunts you down convinced that he must save you. or perhaps vice-versa, in which you play the knight trying to escape the castle after finding that the princess is not what he thought she would be, “you’ll wish she was in another castle” being the tagline.
They also briefly discussed the possibility of virtual reality such as the Oculus Rift or Playstations Project Morpheus being used in horror, expressing the joint opinion that it would be a great success if executed properly, as true horror relies on immersion.