Have you ever wanted to be so terrified that you fell out of your chair? A new generation of horror video games could do just that. The key to this new craze is the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality device that makes you feel like you are actually in the game. The VR head-mounted display managed to raise $91 million to put it into manufacturing before being purchased by Facebook. So it’s safe to assume that there are quite many fans out there ready to do a lot to really enjoy the thrills of a horror video game.
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As you walk through the darkness, you feel like you are really there, and when the creature springs out suddenly, the experience goes far beyond anything you have seen previously. This could be the future of horror video games.
The question is whether these horror games could be too scary to play. Gamers who have tried early versions have had to rip off their headsets, or have literally fallen off their chair, screaming. To an outside observer, it looks like they are simply sitting in a living room with a headset on. To the person inside the headset, though, they are in a different world – one that can be truly terrifying. For many people, these games may be too scary to finish.
How scary can future horror video games are?
This largely depends on the game developers, and what they aim to achieve. It is possible to create a game that is so scary that people freak out and have to stop playing. While that can certainly get you attention in the marketplace, is that the best approach for a company to take? Some developers feel that there is little profit involved in making a game too scary for people to play.
On the other hand, there is a challenge involved here, kind of like making a hot sauce that describes itself as too painfully hot to eat. There are people who want to take on that type of challenge. It can certainly give you an interesting marketing tagline, and quotes from reviewers saying this game is too scary to play could be enticing to some. However, it is likely that many gamers would avoid that, thereby shrinking your potential audience.
The future of horror video games – too much for the heart?
One gaming company, Red Barrel Studios, reported that a gamer played their horror offering Outlast for the first forty minutes, and then couldn’t take it anymore. She was so stressed and frightened that she began to cry, went outside, and refused to continue. When virtual reality technology makes things appear too real to take, this is a problem that game developers face. Just how scary should you make it?
Another developer working on the game A Machine for Pigs reported a similar concern. The question is how to balance the scare factor with the desire for players to actually play the game to completion. While it is true that games in general often have low completion percentages, making the game too terrifying can exacerbate that problem. On the other hand, if you make the terror level too low, then some players will be disappointed, especially those who have enjoyed the horrifying effects in other games.
The challenge is to hit the right balance. You want the scenes to be horrific but not too unpleasant, scary but not so terrifying that people abandon the game. The sound track also lends intensity to the game, and a thundering audio track can be disorienting, deafening, or shocking at times. How much punishment do players want to take in the pursuit of scary thrills?
Jason Phillips wrote this amazing article. He loves adventure and playing adventure games. He also enjoys playing escape games at the site Escape Games 365 which is a pool of hundreds of adventure games.