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恐怖游戏玩家心理 发表评论(0) 编辑词条

目录

恐怖游戏玩家心理编辑本段回目录

引言

“这不是你所看到的,而是你看不到的。这是建议;是对于潜意识的调侃;是空荡荡的走廊上地板发出的嘎吱嘎吱声;是在拐角处缓慢行进;就像始终存在的邪恶织布机拒绝揭示自己的恐怖感。恐惧并不是肾上腺素的急冲。这是在黑暗中独处的无助感。”(Fahs,2008)

这一关于Travis Fahs的《Alone in the Dark Retrospective》的介绍阐述了这个领域的方向。自从诞生以来恐怖类型便在游戏中占据着很重要的位置。回到基于文本的《Zork》(1980),这款游戏让玩家深陷于黑暗的洞穴中,并害怕被Grue所吃掉,这是人们在之前从未在游戏中体验过的情境。之后便诞生了更多恐怖游戏,包括《潜伏惊骇》(1987),《鬼屋魔影》(1992),《生化危机》(1996),《寂静岭》(1999),《极度恐慌》(2005),《死亡空间》(2008)以及《Slender》(2012)。对于玩家来说,恐怖游戏是一种全新的挑战,因为他们必须学习全新的打斗技能;恐怖游戏还要求玩家学会逃避威胁。

分析恐怖游戏很有趣主要有一些原因。从情感内容来看,恐怖游戏可以影响几乎任何一种情感——包括讨厌,快乐,怀疑,害怕以及轻松。恐怖游戏的情感影响可以体现为焦虑,害怕与担心,进一步研究将发现恐怖游戏是依赖于怪物去创造出恐怖与厌恶感。

本文将讨论:

*恐怖游戏是如何影响玩家——他们的心跳是否开始加快,他们是否频繁地移动,他们是否惊恐地从房间里跑出来

*恐怖游戏背后的心理原理——为什么你会害怕?

*恐怖游戏中的哪些元素创造了最大的恐惧感——这是让玩家感到害怕的氛围或敌人,或者是与角色间的关系。

定义

这一项目的目标是调查玩家是如何因为恐怖游戏感到害怕,以及这些游戏中的那些元素为玩家创造了最大的恐惧感。

《牛津词典》对于恐怖的定义是:“1.引起大恐慌或紧张。2.突然袭来的恐惧。”

因此这一项目的目的是调查恐怖游戏是如何让玩家感到害怕。

宗旨和目标

研究

在项目的研究阶段,我们将通过多个来源明确恐怖游戏背后的创造过程,恐怖游戏对人们的影响,这类型游戏背后的心理原理以及如何完善恐怖游戏。

我们将检查许多广受好评的恐怖游戏,判断为什么它们能够始终都被当成是最优秀的游戏。

在完成所有的研究后,我们将分成两部分:氛围和心理。氛围将深入挖掘如何通过环境,声音和非游戏角色创造恐惧感。而心理则将检查留给玩家发挥想象力的元素。

这一阶段的目标是收集能够用于创造恐怖游戏的信息。游戏产业也能够使用这一信息去创造并完善恐怖游戏或任何其它游戏。

silent-hill(from gamingbolt.com)

寂静岭(from gamingbolt.com)

测试

测试阶段要求一些参与者去玩一些恐怖游戏。这一试验将用于找到恐怖游戏中创造出最大“恐惧感”的元素。

研究

研究部分将专注于恐怖游戏让人害怕的元素以及其背后的心理原理。在深入研究了这两个部分后,它们将被分裂成更小的两个方面:氛围和心理。这两个部分将揭示每个元素是如何使用的。

恐怖游戏让人害怕的元素——这一部分将着眼于游戏中用于吓唬玩家的方法。可能是游戏所使用的音乐,游戏发生的地点或者游戏中战斗的发展。

氛围——这一部分将详细挖掘游戏使用怎样的方法去创造氛围。例如音轨是由心跳所组成的,当心跳越快就意味着玩家越接近目标。

心理原理——这一部分将检查改变玩家心理状态的元素。可能是当玩家在思考他们正被敌人追赶,但事实上却没人在追他们的时候。

恐怖游戏背后的心理原理——这一部分将描述为什么玩家在玩这类型游戏时会产生情感波动。例如,如果角色被怪兽追赶时玩家会产生同感并因此感到害怕。

广受好评的恐怖游戏——这一部分将综述那些被当成是最优秀的恐怖游戏的游戏。

恐怖游戏为什么会让人感到害怕?

并不明确-—–在恐怖游戏中,那些未说明的事总是能够吸引玩家发挥想象力。玩家比被引导着穿过一些关键区域和关键的信息点,但是他们也应该有种不妙的预感。例如,《寂静岭2》的介绍让玩家走到城镇,他们面前会发生一些事,不过等到他们意识到时一切都太晚了,在行走的时候,所有玩家能够听到的只有角色的脚步,这是一个非常小的声音,就好象有一只狗在角色后面追着他跑并咆哮着。然而玩家并未遇到任何敌人,但是音频和视觉效果却将玩家逼到了恐惧的边缘。

无需呈现其它内容;说服玩家去吓自己。

强大的场所感——在恐怖游戏中存在很多会让玩家立刻察觉到危险的地方,如废弃的学校,医院和宾馆。如果游戏中存在一个“安全场所”,那么它肯定不会被当成是玩家的中心或基地,而是让他们退缩到一个角落去思考下一个恐惧的地方。但是如果有个地方是玩家必须反复回去的,那么当它发生改变,恐怖感便会提升。在《寂静岭4》中,游戏提供给玩家一个房子,他们将离开并反复回到房子中。当游戏前进时,房子中的房间将变得更易受攻击,因为敌人有能力进攻它。

在恐怖游戏中没有一个地方是安全的。

环境的微小变化——当某些事情成为一款恐怖游戏中的常规,它就不会再让人害怕了,因为玩家知道将会发生什么。但是如果只出现微小的变化,它们便仍能够激起玩家的好奇心,并提高他们的恐惧感。如果游戏是发生在一栋建筑中,然后有些东西会逐渐消失,如果这时候玩家会收到相关消息,他们便会有所提防,那么游戏也就没有意义了。

不应该让玩家觉得他们精通了环境。

与主角间的关系——这是必要的。最恐怖的游戏使用同感作为情感选择,从而让玩家会感受到他们的英雄的感受,并担心角色的安危。但是其它类型的情感关系也能够用于创造干扰玩家的机遇。在电子游戏《狂城丽影》中,玩家是作为一个无能力的年轻女孩,她只能努力逃离不断追着自己的邪教徒。当玩家频繁地经历了这个女孩的不幸后他们便会更加害怕。然而,在游戏《特殊行动:一线生机》中,玩家扮演了Captain Martin Walker的角色。Walker是一个能够保护自己的士兵,所以玩家无需担心他的安慰。但是游戏会通过要求玩家的选择以及Walker的心态恶化到达某种程度而传达出恐惧感。在游戏的一个场景中,玩家会得到一个能够引起巨大破坏力的武器,

游戏告诉他可以用它去对付敌人。但在玩家这么做后,他将看到一个不可预期的结果。在玩家意识到自己做了什么后,他们会暂停游戏并离开房间。这说明玩家和角色在关于他们于游戏中的行动中都经历了同样的情感,因为控制着角色的玩家并不在意他们行动的结果。

害怕必须是有目的的——害怕必须是基于一些真正的内容。所有的情感都是个人的感受。害怕也应该是个人的,即与一些世俗的情况联系在一起。

这将带给玩家恐惧。

人际互动——将人类戏剧带进恐怖游戏中将加深玩家对角色的情感依附。然而在游戏中模拟一个人类是非常困难的;我们可以通过简单的行动去克服它。例如,在游戏《Ico》中,主角必须握着女孩的手并引导她通过游戏。

如果没有这种接触,女孩便会迷路或被怪物抓住。

预感——恐怖游戏需要一种预感。这必须尽可能被拉长。玩家始终都需要知道,一些可怕的事正等着自己。然而,当恐怖的事真正发生时,所有的这种紧张感便会消失。当玩家最终看到他们必须面对或克服的,他们便会知道某些恐惧只是自己的想象力所创造的。

战斗——恐怖游戏中的战斗应该足够简单。然而,玩家不能完全掌控情境,不管是敌人的行为是否难以预测或者角色是否比敌人更虚弱。真正的战斗并不如暗藏威胁的战斗来得吓人。如果游戏并不要求玩家打败敌人,战斗就应该是“近距离且个人化的”。通过在关卡中射击敌人而打败他们并不会添加任何恐惧感,因为角色并未处于任何危险中。如果使用的是远程武器。并拥有有限的弹药,那么玩家便会因为不知何时会用尽弹药而感到害怕。

声音——恐怖游戏中的声音总是会让玩家感到害怕,甚至是在见到敌人前。这也将创造一种氛围并营造紧张感。音乐通常是由冗长的调子以及不断反复的刺耳声音组合而成。一些不是恐怖游戏中的音乐也有可能带给玩家恐惧感。例如,在《刺猬索尼克》的水下关卡中,当索尼克的氧气快用完时,音乐的速度便会加快,从而让玩家感到恐慌。在一些恐怖游戏中,声音总是与一些特定的事件联系在一起,所以当玩家听到这些音乐,他们便会开始焦虑,因为他们自己便将音乐与可怕的事件联系在了一起。例如在《生化危机3:复仇女神》中,当玩家听到复仇女神的主题音乐响起时,他们便会开始焦虑,因为他们知道复仇女神就在四周。如果恐怖游戏并未包含音频,它便不再具有沉浸式和恐惧感。Raymond User便证实了这点,即创造了一个调查音频在计算机游戏中的重要性的实验。在这个实验中,他要求许多参与者去玩一些游戏,同时检测他们所做出的身体反应。有些参与者是伴随着音频游戏,有些则不是。在实验完成后,他发现当玩家在玩《失忆症:黑暗后裔》时,这两个群组的玩家具有很大的区别。伴随着音频的玩家心跳加速率会比没有音频的玩家明显。

敌人——恐怖游戏中的敌人总是会让人心绪不宁,具有威胁性,或同时结合这两种。关于这点的显著例子便是Werewolf和Wolfman的区别。一开始它们都是狼,但它们是基于不同的设计。Wolfman是人类的变形。当你着眼于它时,你会害怕是因为你知道它曾经是人类,所以在它体内可能仍然留有一点人性。而你害怕自己遭遇和它一样的下场。另一方面,Werewolf则完全没有人性。它是纯粹的怪兽,具有天生的蛮性,它不会因为同情而犹豫是否杀你。在敌人设计中吓唬玩家的另外一种方法便是让他们感到不安。无辜也是一种让人害怕的元素。这会让玩家觉得自己在对抗一个孩童般的敌人,而大多数人都会因为自身的道德心而停手。

氛围——在《牛津词典》中,氛围被定义为“弥漫的语调或一个场所,情境的气氛,或创造性作品。”因此这一部分将详细挖掘创造恐怖游戏的语调或气氛的元素。这些元素是:强大的场所感,环境的微小改变,恐惧必须具有目的,战斗和声音。

强大的场所感——这一元素创造一个氛围感,因为玩家认为大多数恐怖故事都是发生在一个废弃的医院,学校,宾馆或黑暗的森林里。

环境的微小改变——当东西开始消失,音乐开始改变,其它角色的行为变得奇怪时,玩家便会察觉到一些不好的事要发生了。

恐惧必须具有目的——游戏中的某些事与玩家相关,不管这是设置,角色还是故事。

战斗——基于游戏设置,角色将根据它进行战斗。例如,如果游戏是以中世纪为背景,角色则需要带着剑与弓箭与敌人战斗。

声音——在游戏《Max Payne》中,在噩梦般的序列中,背景音乐是婴儿的哭泣,如果玩家掉进一个迷宫,婴儿便会开始尖叫。这会让玩家感到非常不安。

slender(from ubergizmo.com)

slender(from ubergizmo.com)

心理原理

这一部分将检查影响玩家心理和情感状态的元素,这些元素是:模糊,与主角间的关系,人类互动以及预感。

模糊——恐怖游戏永远不会在一开始就呈现出敌人的外观。这将让玩家能够创造自己想象中的怪物,并抱着害怕的心理等待着敌人的出现。

与主角间的关系——通过创造玩家与主角间的关系,玩家将与他们产生情感练习,并在主角遭遇危险时感到害怕。

人类互动——通过让玩家角色在游戏中与其它角色展开互动,将能够提高玩家对他们的依恋。

预感——预感是源自紧张。但玩家在游戏中感到紧张时,他们的神经会越绷越紧,直至最终释放出来。

敌人则同时适合这两种方面。它能够适应氛围是因为其设计和外观便是对于环境的反应。例如《生化奇兵》中的Splicers。Splicers是Rapture的公民,因为滥用的ADAM消费,他们的想法和身体突变至无法修复,并且是依靠于ADAM。敌人同样也适应于心理原理,因为敌人可能表现出无辜,并导致玩家犹豫是否要处理他们。

恐怖游戏背后的心理原理

镜像神经元-—–在20世纪90年代初期,一群神经系统科学家发现猴子大脑的某一组神经元会在执行一个行动以及观看其它猴子执行行动时被触发。

镜像神经元对人类产生同感能力来说非常重要。Marco Iacoboni教授说道:“镜像神经元是运动细胞。也就是说它们会发送信号到我们的肌肉去移动我们的身体,做出行动,抓取一个咖啡杯,微笑等等。然而,它们也区别于其它运动细胞,因为它们也可以通过看到别人的行动而被激活。”例如,当你深受去拿饮料时你的镜像神经元会被激活,而当你看到其他人也这么做时,它也会被激活。“甚至当我们什么都没做,只是看到别人移动时,它们也会在我们的身体内部创造关于别人行动的模拟。”

关于为什么会发生这种情况,Iacoboni以及一些成员组织了一次研究。在这一研究中,它们使用了装备去监视观看表示不同情感的脸部表情的人的大脑活动。通过看到表情,他们的镜像神经元会被激活,但同时边缘系统的神经元也被激活了。边缘系统是大脑中与情感相关的领域的一部分。所以在这种情况下对象在某种程度上也获得了一定的情感变化。

我们可以在《行尸走肉》中感受到镜像神经元的影响,因为游戏经常呈献给玩家角色的面孔以及他们的脸部表情。因此,当游戏中的一个角色生气或郁闷时,玩家的镜像神经元便会被激活,就像他们自己也在做着同样的标签并在某种程度拥有同样的情感。

同感-—–在《牛津词典》中,同感的定义是“理解并分享其他人的感受的能力。”通过是我们从别人的角度去理解他们的情感状态的能力。

心理学家Mark Davis认为总共存在三种同感类型。第一张是“换位思考”。即将你自己房产是同感对象。这将用于理解对方来自哪里的情况,而不是理解他们的情感。

第二种同感是“个人困扰”。这便是感受别人的情感。例如,在玩一款恐怖游戏时,你会在游戏中的角色遭到追逐或威胁时感到害怕。这一过程也叫做“情感感染”。情感感染是情感被当成是传播疾病的一种过程。

最后一种同感便是移情关怀。这是大多数人在听到同感这一词会想到的。即意识到别人的情感并理解他们。

举个例子来说吧,在《行尸走肉》的一个场景中,玩家需要将最后的四块实物分给10个人组成的群组,他们中的所有人都很久没吃过东西了。有些角色是小孩,还有一个带着心脏病的老人。通过游戏玩家已经与所有人建立起一定的关系,所以他们会在面对这一选择时感到沮丧。

战斗还是逃跑——战斗还是逃跑的反应是在面对一些可怕的事物时玩家的心理反应。这时候他们的身体将做出战斗或逃跑的反应。这种反应也会出现在面对虚构的威胁时。

是Walter Cannon在20世纪20年代发现了这一心理反应。Cannon发现动物在面对威胁时其交感神经系统会做出反应。交感神经系统是控制我们的内脏以及身体的一些肌肉。所以如果交感神经系统做出反应,这就意味着身体不知觉地将其呈现出来,并引出了逃跑或战斗的选择。

我们也可以在为该报告所进行的恐怖游戏实验中看到这种情况。当参与者在玩《Slender》时,他们会因为首次看到怪物而恐慌并尝试着逃跑,这在很多情况下将导致角色的死亡。而保持镇定的参与者反而更有机会成功脱离。

研究分析

从阅读过的文章以及玩过的游戏中,我们发现必须确保氛围是可信任的,而故事,角色和敌人能够映射出主角的心理状态。例如,在《寂静岭2》中,整个城镇及其居民都能够映射出James的心理状态。

设置必须尽可能现实且可信任,如此玩家才能够沉浸于其中。例如,《生化奇兵》创造了一整座城市让玩家在此探索。这是可信任的,因为通过音频日志玩家可以在到达前得知这座城市中发生了什么以及每个人为什么都发疯了。

游戏中的敌人不应该太过简单。如果他们拥有比玩家更多盔甲或生命值的话便能做到这点。我们必须通过这么做让玩家担心角色,而如果怪物是可被打倒的,那就确保玩家不需要花太长时间去做到这点,否则他们便会感到郁闷并退出游戏。

测试

测试将是一种实验。在实验中,许多参与者将玩一些恐怖游戏关卡。在游戏过程中,参与者的心率和身体反应将被记录下来并得到分析。该实验是发生在大学教室—-因为这是一个能够玩游戏的房间,并且能够关灯让玩家在黑暗中游戏。

该实验的目的是检测恐怖游戏,看看是否存在任何共同功能能够提高玩家的心率或引起他们做出身体反应,同时找到恐怖游戏中的哪个元素是“最恐怖的”。

该实验的设计是识别恐怖游戏中哪个元素是吓人的。这将由参与者的心率,身体反应以及对于问卷调查的回答所决定。

每个参与者在实验前需要填写一张关于他们之前的恐怖体验以及是否玩过任何游戏的表格(附录1)。他们还必须签订一份同意书(附录2)。在实验结束后,他们将再次回答一份表格(附录3)。这张表格是询问他们哪款游戏是最吓人而哪款最不吓人,并说出原因。心率监视器将测量参与者的心率。(附录4)他们的身体反应将被带有音频记录功能的摄像机记录下来。

实验中的游戏包括《生化危机5》,《死亡空间2》,《寂静岭3》,《生化奇兵》,《Slender》和《特殊行动:一线生机》。之所以会选择这些游戏是因为它们均获得了许多游戏评论者的称赞并且都是基于不同目的创造出恐怖感。

生化危机5(from residentevil)

生化危机5(from residentevil)

《生化危机5》——在这款游戏中,玩家必须在等待直升飞机摧毁阻碍他们道路的大门之前努力活下来。玩家将免费许多敌人,一个boss级别的敌人挥舞着巨大的斧头。玩家是从山上开始游戏,他们必须向下前进;然后进入一个房子,过场动画也因此而开始。领头的敌人将看到玩家并命令其他敌人对其发动攻击。玩家可以通过推倒门前和窗前的架子进行掩护,并从相关领域收集弹药。最终,boss将摧毁建筑的墙让其他敌人能够进入,而玩家也可以前往一个更大的领域。玩家必须在直升飞机到达并摧毁另一扇门前努力活下来。如果角色死了,游戏也就结束了。选择这一游戏关卡能够观察玩家是如何在无处可逃的情况下应对不断涌上来的敌人。

《死亡空间2》——玩家必须完成游戏的开始。在这期间,玩家所控制的角色必须想办法逃离追逐着自己的敌人。游戏一开始角色便遭到审问并产生幻觉。最终角色被锁了起来。当他们醒来时,他们发现另外一个遭到攻击的人将其释放了。玩家必须开始逃跑。他们想办法前往监事领域,在这里他们被另外一个持刀的角色抓住了,但之后将他们释放并引导着他们前往一个带有道具的橱柜。当角色转身时,站在其前方的人将掐断他的喉咙。如果角色死掉,他们将重生并继续游戏。之所以选择游戏的这部分内容是为了观察玩家是如何处理不能回击敌人的情况。

《寂静岭3》——选择的是介绍部分。在这一过程中,玩家不知道自己在哪里或者发生了什么,所以一切都取决于玩家如何行进。玩家将从一个游乐园入口出发,那里有许多穿着兔子服的角色带着残忍的微笑。当玩家离开这个地方,他们会前往一个小卖部,并在那遇到第一个敌人。玩家最终将到达一过山车区域,并开始走下轨道,并遇到一辆反向驶来的货车。当角色四驱时,游戏便会停止。之所以选择这部分游戏是为了观察玩家在没有明确指示时如何处理游戏中让人不安且反常的氛围。

《生化奇兵》——在这款游戏中,参与者将挑战介绍部分。玩家必须在获得第一个武器并被带向Rapture群体时前往Rapture第一个区域。游戏是从一个星球开始,在这里玩家将潜入大海。在找到一个带有生物圈且亮着的房子后,玩家将掉进Rapture。当生物圈浮出水面时,他们会看到另外一个角色被连接工具杀死。然后玩家将努力穿越关卡并与敌人战斗。在游戏中玩家可以在死后重生。选择这部分游戏是因为游戏氛围以及如何创造一个可信赖的世界。

《Slender: The Eight Pages》——在这款游戏中玩家必须在Slender的追逐下于黑暗的森林中寻找八页。当玩家遇到Slender时,静电将充满屏幕直到玩家只能看到静电以及Slender的脸。Slender将在玩家找到第一页时开始追逐玩家;声道将变成击鼓声。在玩家找到第二页时,将再次出现较短暂的静电。游戏过程中玩家只有一条生命。之所以选择这款游戏是为了观察玩家如何处理被一个不能反抗的实体追逐的情况。

《特殊行动:一线生机》——玩家将扮演一个必须使用迫击炮杀死敌人的士兵。当所有敌人都倒下时,玩家必须穿越他们所造成的大屠杀场景。当他们到达一个战壕时,他们会发现自己错杀了许多无辜之人。玩家可以在游戏中再生。这款游戏其实不能被归为恐怖游戏,但之所以被选为实验对象是因为它呈现给玩家他们行动的结果,从而能够观察玩家在面对错杀许多无辜之人的情况。

实验前的假设是,《Slender:The Eight Pages》能够凭借带给玩家的紧张感和恐慌而引起最高的玩家心率并刺激最大的身体反应。然而实验后参与者所选出的创造出最高心率的游戏却是《寂静岭3》,因为它的黑暗和让人不安的氛围。

spec-ops-the-line(from invisioncommunity)

spec-ops-the-line(from invisioncommunity)

控制对象

这一参与者在之前就玩过所有的这些游戏,并因为是这类型游戏的粉丝,所以对恐怖体验具有较高的免疫力。他是个22岁的男性,现在是游戏产业中的一名学生,每周会玩6至12小时的游戏。

他将《Slender》选为自己玩过最可怕的游戏,因为他认为游戏创大了巨大的紧张感与恐慌,同时还具有非常逼真的音频。而最不让人害怕的游戏是《特殊性的:一线生机》。他表示这款游戏所带来的并不是真正的害怕——更多的是心理的影响,如果他从头开始游戏或对于游戏情境有更多的了解,他可能会更加紧张。

在问卷调查中,他选择了在每款游戏中最让人害怕以及最不害怕的方面。以下是他的答案:

表1

表1

在玩这些游戏的同时他的心率和身体反应也被记录了下来。

表2

表2

*之后他说忘记敌人了

**这并不是真正让人害怕的访问,他并不需要人陪着继续玩游戏

***之后他说自己不喜欢针

参与者1

22岁的年轻男性,现在是一名音乐技术学生,每周会花12至24小时玩电子游戏。他玩过《生化危机5》和《生化奇兵》。对于恐怖游戏他已经有一些经验,不会轻易被吓到,但却也不是无所畏惧。他认为《寂静岭3》是最吓人

的游戏,因为“这是我玩过最让人毛骨悚然的游戏,并且很难理解发生了什么。”他认为最不吓人的游戏是《特殊行动:一线生机》,因为比起恐怖游戏它更像是动作游戏。

在问卷调查中,他选择了在每款游戏中最让人害怕以及最不害怕的方面。以下是他的答案:

表3

表3

在玩这些游戏的同时他的心率和身体反应也被记录了下来。

表4

表4

还应该注意的是参与者关于经历每款游戏的描述。

参与者2

参与者2是来自工程领域的23岁男性。他每周会花5至12个小时游戏,玩过《生化危机5》。他表示自己有一些玩恐怖游戏的经验,不会很容易被吓到,但却并不是什么都不怕。他认为《Slnder》是最吓人的,因为它呈现出了一种“未知的恐惧”以及“潜伏在身后的敌人”也很可怕。而最不让人害怕的是《特殊行动:一线生机》,因为这里没有任何突发事件。

在问卷调查中,他选择了在每款游戏中最让人害怕以及最不害怕的方面。以下是他的答案:

表5

表5

在玩这些游戏的同时他的心率和身体反应也被记录了下来。

表6

表6

*参与者在《生化危机2》中多次死亡

**在找到第二页时静电随机涌现出来

参与者3

一名20岁的男学生,有适度的恐怖游戏经验,不会很容易被吓到。他玩过《生化奇兵》和《生化危机5》。他认为最吓人的是《Slener》。主要是因为游戏的理念,简单的机制让人很难继续生存下去,并且你并不能杀死地图上威胁你的存在。而最不吓人的是《特殊行动:一线生机》,因为它缺少“让人毛骨悚然”的风格以及黑暗的背景,也不存在威胁或吓人的敌人,以及复杂的游戏控制。

在问卷调查中,他选择了在每款游戏中最让人害怕以及最不害怕的方面。以下是他的答案:

表7

表7

*参与者的意思是游戏被设定在白天

在玩这些游戏的同时他的心率和身体反应也被记录了下来。

表8

表8

*视频和音频数据被毁掉了

参与者4

从事计算机工作的20岁男性。他很少玩恐怖游戏,很容易被吓到,并且未曾玩过这些游戏。他认为《生化奇兵》是最吓人的游戏,因为“它创造了紧张感,你永远不知道什么时候敌人会从旁边蹦出来”。而《特殊行动:一线生机》是最不让人害怕的,因为“它一点都不吓人”。

在玩这些游戏的同时他的心率和身体反应也被记录了下来。

表9

表9

在玩这些游戏的同时他的心率和身体反应也被记录了下来。

表10

表10

在介绍过场动画时,角色被审问了。在这期间他开始幻想之前的游戏。

参与者5

学习表演艺术的22岁女学生。每周玩电子游戏的时间不会超过30分钟,从未玩过这里的任何一款游戏,很少玩恐怖游戏,并且很容易被吓到。他认为《Slender》和《特殊行动:一线生机》是最让人害怕的,因为《Slender》的“氛围和未知元素”,而《特殊行动:一线生机》“让人害怕的是看到自己的行动所产生的结果”。她认为《生化危机5》是最不吓人的,因为“氛围并未创造出任何恐惧感。”

在玩这些游戏的同时他的心率和身体反应也被记录了下来。

表11

表11

在玩这些游戏的同时他的心率和身体反应也被记录了下来。

表12

表12

*在真正的游戏中,角色遇到之前给自己武器的屠夫。

**她说找不到脉冲时不知道如何面对其它情境。

在线问卷调查

问卷调查(附录5)被刊登在网上一些相关的恐怖游戏或游戏网站上以要求人们观看一些视频并根据其恐怖程度进行排列。参与者所观看的视频是我们在之前所讨论的游戏和关卡的片段。

关于这一问卷调查的假设是,《寂静岭3》将被选为最吓人的游戏。因为它那黑暗且让人不安的氛围,女性角色的脆弱性以及游戏所具有的声誉。因为这一问卷调查是在网上进行,所以许多参与者可能已经玩过一些游戏,因此他们的回答将受到是否还记得视频中有关游戏片段的内容的影响,因此排名高低也是根据他们的体验。

每个参与者都回答了自己的年龄和性别,如果在工作了,主要从事怎样的工作,会花多少时间去玩游戏,玩过哪些恐怖游戏。回答完这些问题后他们将观看游戏片段,并根据1到10的顺序进行排名,1是最不让人害怕的,而10是最吓人的。在做出排名后,他们同样也要回答排行最高的游戏的吓人之处以及排行最低的游戏缺少些什么。

回应的总结

我们收到许多有关参与者选出的较高排名的游戏的评论。以下是其中的一部分内容:

“《生化奇兵》成功地吓到了许多人,因为玩家不知道是什么在攻击pod/电梯,并且在游戏中的视线总是很模糊,因为敌人的设置本来就很神秘且带有危险性。通过将玩家放置在pod中,并未交给他们任何武器,玩家便会感到深深的无助。《死亡空间》创造了适度的恐慌,让玩家因为被束缚的手腕/缺少武器而无助,这能够有效地诱导短期的恐慌心理。而之后探索废弃且黑暗的房间也能够有效地诱导玩家的想象。”

“孤独以及一般意义上的妄想都是源自游戏。你永远不会知道接下来会发生什么,这让你感到担忧。甚至当你完成游戏后,你也不会知道自己该期待些什么。在《Slender》中找到最后一页时你可以大松一口气,但这并不意味着结束。”

“其目的是关于恐吓并吓死玩家。具有沉浸感。逼真的氛围。鼓励玩家发挥想象力。在《寂静岭》中,黑暗夺走了玩家监视任何发展的能力。黑暗中可能会出现各种情况。例如在《寂静岭3》的视频中5:50的时侯出现的一个声音便标志着当下发生的某种情况。我们不知道发生了什么以及它有多危险,所以这便创造了一种让人紧张的氛围。‘我希望Satan先生并未在那等着我’,‘该死,这是什么。我不知道’—-我喜欢《生化危机5》视频中的生成元素,即玩家必须阻碍房间。让他们有一种受困感。”

“我认为《Slender》是最吓人的游戏。黑暗的氛围以及孤独感都很让人害怕。虽然其它游戏在某种程度上也有这种感受,但是它们添加了许多颜色,看起来更不现实。《Slender》让我觉得自己好像真的迷失在森林里,而来自自然的音效更是添加了沉浸感。”

“《Slender》和《寂静岭》在氛围控制上最突出。《特殊行动》并不像恐怖游戏,但却带有让人心寒的体验,所以是我最喜欢的游戏之一。《生化奇兵》很棒,但却不像其它游戏那么突出。与未知事物相抗衡,脑子里创造着随时都可能发生的各种恐怖场景。满满的无助感涌现出来,你不知道在潜伏着危险的黑暗中该如何保护自己。”

“当你思考着带有同样属性的其它战争游戏的人气时,战争游戏中的场景将会带来很大的影响。尽管将其看作是逃避现实,但《特殊行动》还是努力通过玩家的行动对其产生影响作用,以此强调了游戏背后的现实性。我之所以给予这款游戏最高排名的一部分原因也是我玩了其它款游戏很多次了。”

“《寂静岭》以其真实般的恐怖感而出现。可怕的生物,紧张的氛围,梦魇般的音效以及重击乐等都与游戏的噩梦结合在一起。我只玩过《寂静岭1》和《寂静岭2》,而前两款游戏的节奏都较慢。每次突然出现的敌人都会大大地吓到我。”

“有限的空间。我有轻微的幽闭恐惧症,所以我并不喜欢这样的内容。其次,音乐,环境噪音以及阴影等元素制造了这种恐怖感。”

还有许多评论是关于排行较低的游戏,即并未吓到参与者的游戏。以下是其中的一部分内容:

“《特殊行动》之所以不吓人是因为在这部分游戏中,玩家具有能量。在这里并不存在威胁。这与游戏作为现代军事射击游戏的评论的目的是维系在一起,即带给玩家所有的能量但却忽视了他们行动的结果。《特殊行动》是一款优秀的游戏,可以说是让人感到压抑并触发情感,但却不具有恐怖性。另一方面,《生化危机5》虽然尝试着表现出恐怖感,但却失败了,因为游戏中所有的一切都是可预测的,即关于敌人如何发动攻击以及如何出现,并且未曾留给玩家任何发挥想象力的空间——所有的一切都是显而易见,所以这里不具有未知元素的‘恐惧’。”

“它们给予你很多能量。例如在《死亡空间2》中,当你拥有一把手枪时你便可以射击敌人。我是认真的。如果玩家太强大了游戏也就不可怕了。如果游戏限制了我的弹药,并规定我的枪只能爆头,然后我的第一个选择便是开始奔跑,并节省子弹的使用。《生化危机5》和《死亡空间2》并未这么做。”

“《Slender》有点糟糕。主要是因为它做了太多宣传。《Penumbra》系列(我认为这系列游戏更加吓人,特别是第2部)使用同样的机制(巨大且容易迷失的环境,怪物将追逐着你,但除了找地方躲起来以及不断逃跑,你找不到其它反抗方法),但却更有效,因为怪物藏在世界上的某个地方寻找着你,而不是瞬间移动到你面前。”

“背着小小的军械库行走并不吓人。《生化奇兵》——可怕的敌人并没有太大的威胁。笨拙的移动——我从未玩过任何《生化危机》游戏,但从旁观者的角度来看,它的控制真的很笨拙。缓慢移动的僵尸便是结果。我宁愿我的角色拥有有限的能力(如弹药,奔跑),而不是看到有限和笨拙的界面。这会打破沉浸感。虽然跳跃式恐慌是有效的,但同时也是非常无聊且可预测到的。《毁灭战士3》在这方面做得特别糟糕,不管何时进入一个房间,我总是会将其清除干净,通过适当的位置,转身,然后向目标发射。”

“以我个人来讲,我发现在一个开放的环境中奔跑是很难出现恐惧心理。此外,当你被丢到一个必须在此生存一段时间的区域,并且你还手握着枪时,你将不会感到害怕。”

“我是个神经质的人,所以恐怖游戏并不会真正影响到我,因为跳跃式恐慌是廉价的,而真正刺激到心理的恐慌才是具有分量的,即当你能够真正感受到角色所遭受的痛苦。”

“分数最低的游戏通常是因为它们只是通过跳跃式恐慌去吓玩家。这并不会让我感到害怕;这只会让我吃惊。让我们看看《生化危机》视频2:48处。这是喜剧中才会出现的内容。Chris Redfield是一个特别爱发牢骚的人,我想象不到将他那树干般粗的手臂置于战斗中并由此衍生出身体的其它部分。《特殊行动》是一款优秀的游戏,但却不是以呈现恐怖内容为目标。Walker是这里真正的怪物,所以玩家唯一会感到害怕的地方便是不知不觉地帮助他实现目标。这两个视频的共同点在于主角都带有巨大的能量。敌人会畏惧他们。在这一调查中出现的游戏,我认为只有《Slenderman》,《失忆症》,《寂静岭》足以称得上是真正的恐怖游戏。而其它游戏中的所有怪物都只能说是在战斗中最难应付的角色。”

“《Slender》是关于创造紧张感,但是其视频中血腥的神秘人却太晚出现了。所以那时候我因为太过厌烦而并未感到害怕。《特殊行动》看起来很棒,我也愿意去玩这款游戏。但是我却不觉得它吓人。如果我在玩这款游戏,我会因为自己的行动所引起的一切感到自责,但并不是害怕。”

“《特殊行动:一线生机》以及《生化危机5》都是非常出色的游戏。这两款游戏都具有真正吸引人的场景,但却并不让人害怕。场景可能会让我们感到冲击,但其作用绝不是害怕,也许士兵/村民的无辜牺牲会吓到人们。同样地,我觉得《Slender》也没有多吓人。对于我来说,这款游戏的模式太古板了,我想不到任何受惊的理由。”

分析

实验结果——结果证实《Slender》能够引起参与者最大的身体反应,同时它也被评为了最吓人的游戏,而最不让人害怕的游戏便是《特殊行动:一线生机》。

表13

表13

《特殊行动:一线生机》排行最低;因为参与者认为这更像是一款行动游戏。虽然游戏中的某些部分可以划分到恐怖游戏类中,但从总体上来看它还是更倾向于行动游戏。另外,它还缺少黑暗背景,并且也没有什么突发状况。不过也有位参与者将其评为最吓人的游戏,因为“你所做的事会实现,玩游戏的时候你只需要不断地杀人便可。这款游戏会呈现出你的行动的结果。”

《Slender》被选为最吓人的游戏并会激发玩家最大的身体反应。玩家会做出身体反应是因为《Slender》是一款侧重跳跃式恐慌的游戏,游戏通过让玩家跳跃而获得恐慌感。这是氛围与简单机制的结合所创造出来的。游戏发生在弥漫着烟雾的黑暗森林里,这样的环境会让玩家感到不安。游戏的音频是不断重复的缓慢的击鼓声,并伴随着玩家的脚步和呼吸,当Slender靠近或玩家找到第二页时,静电便会出现。此外,这款游戏之所以会成为最吓人的游戏还有些原因:“想知道地图的悬念,”“经典的快速爆发创造了一个随机元素让玩家忍不住跳起来,”以及“未知的恐惧。”

网上结果——最终收集到的结果是,《寂静岭3》以26%的比例成为最吓人的游戏。而《特殊行动:一线生机》也以53%的投票当选为最不吓人的游戏。

《寂静岭3》当选为最吓人的游戏主要是因为它那让人不安的氛围以及玩家不知道该做什么或者会发生什么。一个参与者便说道:“玩家会从敌人和环境中感到不祥之兆,但是玩家却不知道该做什么。”

《特殊行动》再次被选为最不吓人的游戏。问卷调查中的大多数参与者都认为这是款行动游戏而不是恐怖游戏。其中一位参与者说道:“这是款行动游戏。它侧重的是图像而不是恐怖感。”

结论

我们的目的是研究玩家如何受到恐怖游戏的影响,并检查这些游戏中的哪些元素最让玩家感到害怕。

在研究过程中,我们发现许多元素被用于创造恐怖感,但为了创造出最恐怖的内容,这些元素就必须相互维系起来。例如在《寂静岭2》中,城镇本身是以现实为基础,所以带着吓人的目的;它创造了强大的场所感并带有明显的模糊性。

游戏中的其他角色带来了人际互动;主角必须在游戏中的某一部分保护女人,并与遇到的一些角色交谈。与主角的关系是从James进入寂静岭开始,那时候我们还不了解他,他是作为玩家反射自己的白板,但当你开始探索城镇时你将会遇到其他正在寻找自己的城镇版本的角色,反过来你将开始询问James看到了什么。

游戏中的敌人都会呈现出一个角色心理元素,例如人体模型代表他的性冲动。这些敌人不仅能够反应当下的环境,同时也能够呈现出角色的心理变化,从而让它们显得更吓人。在游戏中的某一部分,在一间公寓中你将发现,当自己越靠近栅栏时,它后面便会显现出一个人形,因为太暗了你根本看不清楚它到底是什么。你不能碰到它它也不会碰到你,这便营造了一种猜测与模糊感。在进入相邻房间并离开后,怪物将消失,而因为环境的改变,玩家的恐惧感也会加深。正是因为结合了所有的这些元素,这款恐怖游戏才会被无数玩家选为最吓人的游戏。

不管是实验还是在线调查都取得了成功。关于这两方面的假设只有部分是正确的。关于实验的假设是《Slender》会激发最大的身体反应,这并没错,但关于《Slender》会被选为最吓人的游戏却并非如此,最终参与者选出的最吓人的游戏是《寂静岭3》。因为《寂静岭3》的介绍很吓人,当玩家真正进入游戏后会更加害怕。而《Slender》在一开始就将玩家放置在一个黑暗的森林中,并被怪物追赶着,不知道为什么自己会在那里也不知道会发生些什么。在在线问卷调查中,《寂静岭3》凭借26%的得票率当选为最吓人的游戏。

在项目过程中也出现了一些问题,如记录数据的崩溃,场所问题,生病以及游戏选择等等。在其中的一个实验中,视频和音频数据未能够得到有效保存,所以被损坏了。其中有2位参与者不能前往试验地点,因为其中1名参与者摔断了腿,所以实验不得不在他们的公寓进行,并因此可能会影响结果。

许多人都因为《特殊行动:一线生机》更像行动游戏而非恐怖游戏将其选为最不吓人的游戏。然而,游戏中的某些事件也是很恐怖的。此外,游戏强迫玩家做出选择的机制以及角色的精神状况在游戏过程中的变化也让这款可能作为行动游戏的游戏足以被归类到恐怖游戏行列中。

原文发表于2013年10月8日,所涉事件及数据以当时为准。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,作者:Darren McKettrick)

An Investigation into the Effects of Horror Games

Darren McKettrick

Introduction

“It isn’t what you see, but what you can’t see. It’s the suggestion; the subtle teasing of the subconscious; the lonely creaking of the floorboard resonating throughout an empty hallway; the slow advance around the corner; the swelling sense of dread as the ever-present evil looms near refuses to reveal itself. Fear is not an adrenaline rush. It’s that helpless feeling of be alone in the dark.” [Fahs, 2008]

This introduction to Travis Fahs’ Alone in the Dark Retrospective illustrates the direction of this project. The horror genre has featured in games since its creation. Going back to the text based game Zork (1980) a section of the game had the player stumbling around a dark cave scared of being eaten by a Grue, a situation no one had experienced before in a game. Horror games then continued to be produced, including The Lurking Horror (1987), Alone in the Dark (1992), Resident Evil (1996), Silent Hill (1999), F.E.A.R (2005), Dead Space (2008 and Slender (2012). Horrors present a new challenge to players after years of game where the player must learn new fighting skills; horrors required the player to escape from the threat.

Horror games are interesting to analyze for several reasons. In terms of emotional content, horrors can affect almost every emotion possible – raging from disgust to happiness, suspense and fear to relief. The emotional effects of horror can be seen as suspense, fear and worry, further studies suggests that horrors relies on monsters creating a feeling of horror and disgust.

This Dissertation will examine:

How players are affected by horror games – do their hearts start being faster, do they move about more, do they run from the room terrified

The psychology behind horror games – why are you afraid?

Which factors within horror game create the biggest scare – it is the atmosphere or enemies that make a player terrified or is it the relationship with the character

Definition

The aim of this project is to investigate how players are affected by horror games, and which factors within these games create the greatest scare from the player.

The Oxford Dictionary definition of scare is: “1 cause great fear or nervousness. 2 a sudden attack of fright”.[i]

The purpose of this project is, therefore, to investigate how horror games can cause the player to be scared.

Aims and Objectives

Research

At the research stage of the project, multiple sources will be viewed which will show the creation process behind horror games, the effects of horror games on people, the psychology behind the genre and how to improve horror games.

A number of critically acclaimed horror games will be played and examined to determine why they are rated as some of the best games of all time.

After all the research has been completed, it will be split into two different sections. The two sections are: Atmosphere and Psychological. The atmosphere section will detail the aspects that create a sense of dread and terror from the environment, sounds and non playable characters. The psychological section will examine the elements that are left to the players’ imagination.

The aim of this stage is to gather information that can be used in the creation of horror games. This information can also be used by the game industry for the creation and improvement of horror games or any other game where it could be applicable.

Testing

The testing section will require a number of participants to play several horror games. This experiment will be used to find the factors within the horror games that produce the biggest ‘scares’ for the player.

Research

The research section will focus on what makes horror games scary and the psychology behind horror games. After both sections have been researched and detailed, they will be split into two further sections which are: Atmosphere and Psychological. These two sections will reveal how each element can be used.

What makes a horror game scary – This section will look into the methods that are used within a game to scare the player. This could be the music that is used, where the game takes place or how combat is dealt with in the game.

Atmosphere – This section will detail which methods are used to create an atmosphere in a game. For example how the audio track could consist of a heartbeat, beating faster as the character gets closer to an objective.

Psychological – This section will examine the methods that will alter the player’s mental state. This could be done be the player thinking that they are being chased by an enemy when there is actually nothing chasing them.

The psychology behind horror games – This section will describe why a player feels the emotions they do when playing a horror game. For example, how the player feels empathy if a character is being chased by a monster and so will feel afraid as well.

Critically acclaimed horror games – This section will be a review of horror games which have been noted to be some of the best horrors created.

What makes horror games scary?

Ambiguity – In horrors it is the things that are left unsaid that will engage the player’s imagination. The player must be guided through key areas and key points of information, but they should have a hunch that something just isn’t right. For example, the introduction of Silent Hill 2 makes the player walk to the town. The area is covered in a thick fog so the player cannot see if there is anything in front of them until it is too late, and while walking, all the player can hear is the character’s footsteps, a minimal sound track and occasional sounds as if a dog is running near the character and growling. However, the player encounters no enemies, but because of the audio and visuals the player is put on edge.

Don’t show; persuade the player to scare themselves.

Strong Sense of Place – Within horrors there is a wide array of places that the player will instantly understand as a dangerous and spooky, for example abandoned schools, hospitals and hotels. If there is a ‘safe place’ within the game, this should not be used by the player as a hub or base, but as a place for them to cower in a corner and to contemplate the next horror. But if there is a place that the player must return to again and again, it is more terrifying when something about it changes. In the game Silent Hill 4 the player is given a home which they leave and come back to throughout the game. As the game progresses, the room becomes vulnerable because enemies have the ability to invade it.

Within a horror game no place is safe.

Subtle changes to the environment – When something becomes routine within a horror game then it is not a horror anymore because the player knows what will happen. But if minor changes are made they can both excite the player’s curiosity and increase their fear. If the game is taking place within one building then items should slowly start to disappear, the music should change while progressing through the story, and if the character can receive messages they should eventfully become warnings that make very little sense.

The player must never feel as if they have mastered the environment.

Relationship with the Protagonist – This is essential. Most horror games use empathy as the emotion of choice so that the player feels for the hero, and will fear for the characters’ safety. But other kinds of emotional relationships can be used to create more opportunities to unsettle the player. In the video game Haunting Grounds, the player is cast as a powerless young girl who can only run from the cultists who are chasing her. This makes the game more frightening as the player often experiences distress at the girl’s circumstances. However, in the game Spec Ops: The Line, the player takes the role of Captain Martin Walker. Walker is a soldier who can defend himself, so the player should not fear for his safety. But the game forces the player’s choices and the degree to which the mental condition of Walker’s mind deteriorates, to express horror. During one scene in the game the player is given a weapon which can cause massive destruction, and told to use it against their enemies. But after doing so, the player learns that there is an unexpected consequence to what they have done. When the scene was being focus tested, after the players had realized what they had done, they were pausing the game and leaving the room. [ii] This shows that both the player and the character are experiencing some of the same emotions about what they have done within the game, because the player who was controlling the character was oblivious to the consequences of their actions.

Fear Must Have a Purpose – Fear must be grounded within something real. All emotions are personal. Fear should be made personal by linking it to something that is mundane.

It should bring the fear home for the player.

Human Interaction – Bringing a human drama into a horror will deepen the player’s emotional attachment to the characters. However, simulating a human being within a game is a difficult problem; this can be overcome with simple actions. For example, in the game Ico the protagonist must hold a girl’s hand and guide her through the game. Without this contact the girl would be lost or taken by the monsters that are chasing her.

Anticipation – Horror games need a sense of anticipation. This must be drawn out for as long as possible. The player needs to know, at all times, that something horrible is waiting for them just around the corner. However, when the horrible thing actually happens all of the tension is lost. When the player has finally seen what it is they must face or overcome, something becomes defined which doesn’t need to be feared as much as the being their own imagination has created.

Combat – Combat in horror games should be simple. However, the player shouldn’t have full control over the situation, whether the enemy’s behaviour is hard to predict or the character is weaker than the enemy. Actual combat is not as scary as the implied threat of combat. If the game does require the player to fight enemies, the combat should be ‘up close and personal’. Defeating an enemy by shooting them from across the level does not add any sense of fear because the character is not in any real danger. If ranged weapons are used, having limited ammo ensures that the player is constantly afraid that they will run out.

Sound – Sound in horror games allows the game to scare the player even before they see an enemy. It also creates atmosphere and in some cases a build up of tension. The music is usually composed of long dawn out notes or repeats of harsh sounds mixed with soothing ones. Some music that is not in horror games can nevertheless instil a sense of dread in a player. For example, during the underwater levels in Sonic the Hedgehog, as Sonic started the run out of oxygen the music’s tempo would increase, which would in turn cause the player to start panicking. Within some horror games sounds are linked to certain events so that when the player hears them they will begin to get anxious because of the link they have made with the sound and the event. For example in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, when the player hears the Nemesis theme played, they start getting nervous because they know that Nemesis is nearby. If a horror game did not include audio, then it would not be as immersive or scary. This has been proven by Raymond User who created an experiment which investigates the importance of audio in computer games [iii]. In this experiment a number of participants are required to play a number of games while being monitored for physical responses. The participants played the games with, and without, audio. After the experiment was finished, it was discovered that when playing the game Amnesia: The Dark Descent, there was a significant difference between the two groups. The group with audio had a significantly increased heart rate compared to the group with no audio.

Enemies – An enemy in a horror must either be unsettling, threatening or a combination of both in design. An example of this is the difference between a Werewolf and the Wolfman. To begin with they are both wolf based but they focus on different designs. The Wolfman is a twisted distortion of mankind. When you look at it you are afraid because you know at one point it was human and somewhere inside it there still might be a shred of humanity left. You are terrified because you can put yourself in its shoes and see it happening to you. On the other hand, the Werewolf has a complete lack of humanity. It is a pure beast which just follows its instincts with rage and savagery. It is the unconscious thought of being haunted by something that will not show mercy and which is doing this for no peculiar reason other than its own nature. Another way to scare players in the enemy design is the use of innocence. In horrors if the enemy has a sign of innocence it will disturb the player. Innocence is scary for a number of reasons. It shows the fear of a person’s own children performing horrible acts against others, becoming something hideous, and the fact that most people’s own moral conscience would stop them from killing something like a child.

Atmosphere – In the Oxford Dictionary atmosphere is defined as: ‘the pervading tone or mood of a place, situation, or creative work’ [iv]. This section will therefore detail the elements that create a tone or mood of a horror game. The elements are: – Strong sense of place, subtle changes to the environment; fear must have a purpose, combat and sound.

?Strong Sense of Place – This factor creates a sense of atmosphere because of the player’s knowledge that most horror stories happen in an abandoned hospital, school, hotel or dark woods.

?Subtle Changes to the Environment – As items start to disappear, the music starts to change and other characters start acting bizarrely, this will alert the player that something is not right.

?Fear must have a Purpose – Something within the game should relate to the player, whether this is the setting, characters or story.

?Combat – Depending on the setting of the game, a character will have to fight according to it. For example, if the game is set in the medieval ages the character will have to fight their enemies with swords or bows.

?Sound – In the game Max Payne, during a nightmare-like sequence, the background music is a baby crying and if the player falls off the maze the baby will start screaming. This creates a very disturbing section of the game.

Psychological

This section will examine the aspects that affect the player’s mental and emotional states. It will examine the elements within a horror game that will change a player’s emotional or mental state.

The elements are: – ambiguity, relationship with the protagonist, human interaction and anticipation.

Ambiguity – A horror game should never show what the enemy looks like at the beginning of the game. This will allow the player to create their own monster and will have the player scared at every corner while they wait for an enemy to appear.

Relationship with the Protagonist – By creating a relationship between the player and protagonist, the player will have an emotional connection to them and will feel fear when the hero is in danger.

Human Interaction – By having the player’s character interact with other characters within the game it will increase the player’s attachment to them.

Anticipation – Anticipation is the build up of tension. As tension builds throughout the game the player will become more and more tense until it can be released.

The Enemies aspect can fit within both sections. It fits into the Atmosphere because design and look of the enemy could be a reflection of the environment. For example, Splicers in Bioshock.

Splicers are the citizens of Rapture, due to abusive ADAM consumption, their minds and bodies are mutated beyond repair and are dependent on ADAM. It also fits in Psychological because the enemies could show innocence which would cause the player to be hesitant when faced with them.

The Psychology behind Horror

Mirror Neurons – In the early 1990s, a team of neuroscientists made the discovery that a certain group of neurons in a monkey’s brain fired when it performed an action and also when it watched others perform actions.

Mirror neurons are believed to be very important for a human’s ability to empathize with others. Dr Marco Iacoboni says “Mirror neurons are motor cells. That is, they send signals to our muscles to move our body, make actions, grab a cup of coffee, smile, and so on. However, they differ from other motor cells because they are also activated by the sight of somebody else’s actions.” For example, a mirror neuron is fired when you reach for a drink, but also when another person is reaching for a drink. “By being active even when we do not move at all and simply watch other people moving, they sort of create an inner imitation of actions of others inside us.” [v]

Wondering how exactly this happens, Iacoboni and several others conducted a study (Carr,Iaconboni and Dubeau 2003). [vi] In this study they used equipment to monitor the brain activity of subjects who watched images of faces expressing different emotions. Upon seeing facial expressions mirror neurons fired, but also the neurons in the limbic system fired. The limbic system is a portion of the brain which is related to emotions. So in a way the subjects were actually feeling the emotions themselves to some degree.

The effect of mirror neurons can be seen in the game The Walking Dead, because the game frequently shows the player, the faces of the characters and their facial expressions. Therefore when a character in the game is angry or disgusted, the mirror neurons in the player activate as if they are making the expression themselves and so feel some of the emotions to some degree.

Empathy – Empathy is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”. [vii] Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s emotional condition from their perspective.

The psychologist Mark Davis suggests that there are three types of empathy. The first is ‘Perspective Taking’. This is putting yourself in another’s shoes. It is used to understand where others are coming from, but not understanding their emotions.

The second type of empathy is ‘Personal Distress’. This is feeling another’s emotions. For example, while playing a horror game, you may start to feel scared when the character in the game is being chased or threatened. This process is called ‘emotional contagion’. Emotional contagion is the process where emotions are treated like a disease and spread. [viii]

The final type is Empathic concern. This type is what the majority of people think of when they hear the term empathy. It is the ability to recognize another’s emotions and understand them.

For an example of this in a game, during one scene in The Walking Dead the player has the task of giving the last four pieces of food to a group of ten people, all of whom have not eaten for days.

Some of the characters are children, and one is an old man with heart disease. Throughout the game the player has made relationships with all the characters, so the player will feel upset if the people they do not feed get upset or angry.

Fight or Flight – The fight or flight response is a psychological reaction that happens in the presence of something that is terrifying. The body will prepare to either fight the threat or flee from it. It is also noted that this can happen even if the threat is imaginary.

This was first discovered in 1920s by Walter Cannon [ix].Cannon discovered that animals react to a threat with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system regulates our internal organs and controls some of the muscles within the body. So if there is a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system it means the body involuntarily takes over and causes the animal to either flee or fight.

This can seen in horror games in the experiment performed with this report. When the participants were playing the game Slender, some of them when seeing the monster for the first time would panic in an attempt to escape, which in most cases would end up with the character’s death. But the participants that remained calm had a better chance of escaping.

Research Analysis

It appears from the articles read and games played that it is important that the Atmosphere must be believable and that the story, characters and enemies should be a reflection of the protagonist’s mental state. For example, in Silent Hill 2 the whole town and its inhabitants are a reflection of James’s mental condition.

The setting should be as realistic and believable as possible so that the player will be immersed into it. For example, Bioshock creates a whole city which the player can explore. It is believable because from the audio logs the player can gather they had a sense of what happened to the city before they arrived and why everyone is crazy.

The enemies in the game should not be easy to defeat. This can be achieved if they have more amour or health than the player, have powerful weapons or they are greater in number. This should be done so that the player does feel fear for the character, however if the monster can be defeated, then make sure it does not take the player a long time to do so as they will just get irritated and quit the game.

Testing

The test will be an experiment. In this experiment a number of participants will play several horror game levels. During play the participant’s heart rate and physical reactions will be recorded and analyzed. The experiment will take place in a university lecture room. This was decided because the room had the capabilities to play the games and it had a black out feature so that the players would be playing in darkness.

The aims of the experiment are to examine horror games, see if there are any common features in them that will increase a player’s heart rate or cause a physical reaction and to find which elements in a horror could be classed as the ‘scariest’.

The design of the experiment is to identify which elements in a horror game are scary. This will be determined by the participant’s heart rate, physical reactions and the responses from a questionnaire, which will be completed after the experiment has finished.

Each participant will be asked before the experiment to fill in a form (Appendix 1)which will ask them about their previous experience with horror and if they have played any of the games beforehand. They must also sign a consent form (Appendix 2). After the experiment is finished they will again be asked to fill in a form (Appendix 3). This will ask participants which games they found the most and least scary and the reasons for this. The participants’ heart rate will be measured by a heart rate monitor which will be clipped onto the player’s ear or finger. (Appendix 4)

Their physical reaction will be monitored via a video camera with audio recording capabilities.

The games that will be played for the experiment are Resident Evil 5, Dead Space 2, Silent Hill 3, Bioshock, Slender and Spec Ops: The Line. Each game has been chosen because they all have received praise from a number of game reviewers and each creates horror through different means.

Resident Evil 5 – During this game the player must survive while waiting for a helicopter to destroy a gate blocking their path. The player will face a large number of enemies and one boss-type enemy who wields a giant axe. The player starts the game on a hill which they must descend; the player then enters a house where a cut scene begins. In this they see another character being executed. The enemy leading the execution then sees the player and orders the crowd of people to attack them. The player can then fortify the building they are in by pushing shelves in front of doors and windows, and gather ammo from the area. Eventfully the boss-type enemy destroys a wall of the building allowing other enemies to enter and the player is allowed to roam a bigger area. The player must then survive until the helicopter arrives to destroy another gate so the player can escape. If the character dies, the game is stopped. This level was chosen to see how players cope with constant attack from enemies while having nowhere to run.

Dead Space 2 – The player must complete the beginning of the game. During this the character the player is in control of is stuck in a straight jacket and must flee from enemies who are chasing him. The game begins with the character being interrogated and hallucinating. Eventually the character blacks out. When they awaken they are being released by another person who gets attacked and starts to mutate in front of them. The player must then escape. They make their way to an observation area where they are then grabbed by another character who holds a knife to their throat but releases them from the straight jacket and directs them to a locker with items inside. When the character turns around, the other person then cuts their own throat in front of the player. If the character dies they will respawn and continue. This section of the game was chosen to see how players coped with not being able to fight back against their enemies.

Silent Hill 3 – The section of the game chosen is the introduction. During this the player has no knowledge of where they are or what is happening, so it is up to the player how they proceed. The player starts at an entrance of an amusement park where there are a number of rabbit costumes all with bloody smiles. When the player leaves this area they go to a retail section where they encounter the first enemy. The player will eventually reach a rollercoaster and start to walk down the tracks, only to be met by a cart coming from the opposite direction. Once the character dies, the game is stopped. This game has been chosen to see how players cope when there are no clear instructions on what to do and to see how players cope with the disturbing and unnatural atmosphere of the game.

Bioshock – In this game the player will play the introduction. The player must navigate the first area of Rapture during which they are given their first weapons and plasmids and introduced to the population of Rapture. The game starts with the plane which the character is aboard crashing into the sea. After finding a light house with a biosphere inside, the player descends into Rapture.

When the biosphere resurfaces they see another character being killed by a splicer. The player then makes their way through the level while fighting a number of enemies. The player can respawn during the game. This game was chosen because of the atmosphere and how it creates a believable world.

Slender: The Eight Pages – In this game the player must search dark woods while looking for eight pages and being stalked by Slender. When the player encounters Slender, static will start to fill the screen until the only thing the player can see is static and Slender’s face. Slender will only start stalking the player after they have found the first page; the soundtrack will change to a beating drum. After finding the second page, short bursts of static will occur. The player will only have one life while playing. This game was chosen to see how players dealt with being chased by an entity which they cannot fight against or reason with.

Spec Ops: The Line – The player takes the role of a soldier who must use a mortar to kill a number of enemies. When all the enemies have been disabled, the player must then walk through the carnage they have caused. When they reach a trench they see they have mistakenly killed a large number of innocents. The player can respawn during play. This game is not classed as a horror game, but it was selected because it shows the player the consequences of their actions, and to see how players cope with killing a large number of innocents.

The hypothesis for this experiment is that the game Slender: The Eight Pages will cause the highest heart rates and create the greatest physical reactions because of how it builds tension and has numerous jump scares. However, the game that will be rated highest by the participants will be Silent Hill 3 because of its dark and unsettling atmosphere.

Control Subject

This participant has played all the games previously and has a high tolerance to horror since he is a fan of the genre. He is a 22 year old male, currently a student within the games industry and plays games for 6 – 12 hours a week.

He rated Slender as the scariest game that he had played. He chose this because of the high level of tension, the jump scares and excellent audio. The least scary game in his opinion was Spec Ops: The Line. He says it was not really scary – more psychological, and if he had played it since the beginning or had more knowledge of the situation, he might have been more distressed.

In the questionnaire he was asked to identify the scariest and least scary aspect in each of the games he played. They were:

Game

Most Scary Aspect

Least Scary Aspect

Resident Evil 5

Out numbered

Strongest enemy could not reach you when you were on top of the bus

Silent Hill 3

Chaos, not understanding of what is happening

Difficult controls and the camera

Dead Space 2

No chance to fight back

Felt scripted

Bioshock

Excellent atmosphere

Instant respawn if you did die

Slender

High tension and brilliant at making people jump

Low graphics and was laggy

Spec Ops: The Line

Gore

More of an action game than horror

While playing these games his heart rate and physical reactions were recorded.

Game

Heart Rate Increases

Physical Reactions

Resident Evil 5

No significant increase

-

Silent Hill 3

At the end of the first cutscene and first encounter with enemy*

‘jumped’ at first encounter with enemy *

Dead Space 2

Increase when watching a patient’s interview **

-

Bioshock

Increase when character first injects the plasmid***

Looked uneasy at injection***

Slender

Major increase when caught by Slender

Swearing at the computer

Spec Ops: The Line

Increased when seeing burnt person talking to the player

-

*He later said he forgot about that enemy

**Not really a scary or disturbing interview and does not need to be watched to continue the game

***He later said he does not like needles

Participant 1

22 year old male, is a student in music technology spends 12-24 hours a week playing video games. He has played Resident Evil 5 and Bioshock. He has some experience with the horror genre and he is not easy to scare but also it not fearless. He rated Silent Hill 3 as the scariest game. His reasons for this are “It was the creepiest of the games played and was fairly hard to understand what was going on.” The game he rated the least scary was Spec Ops: The Line because it was more action based than horror.

In the questionnaire he was asked to identify the scariest and least scary aspect in each of the games he played. They were:

Game

Most Scary Aspect

Least Scary Aspect

Resident Evil 5

Getting overrun

More action based than other games

Silent Hill 3

The theme

Enemy movements

Dead Space 2

The mutants

Just had to follow a path and you would be fine

Bioshock

The setting

More fun than scary

Slender

Not knowing where it is

Graphics

Spec Ops: The Line

Trying to make you feel for your actions

More of a action game

While playing these games his heart rate and physical reactions were recorded.

Game

Heart Rate Increases

Physical Reactions

Resident Evil 5

When grabbed by an enemy from behind and when hit by the axe boss

‘jumped’ when grabbed

Silent Hill 3

At the end of the first cut scene and first encounter with the enemy

-

Dead Space 2

Ally being mutated, when being chased and the throat cut scene

-

Bioshock

First look at the Big Daddy and Little Sister

-

Slender

Increase over time after finding the first page and when caught by Slender

-

Spec Ops: The Line

-

-

It should also be noted that the participant talked his way through each game.

Participant 2

Participant 2 is a 23 year old male who works in the engineering sector. He plays games for 5 to 12 hours a week, has played Resident Evil 5. He says he has some experience with horror and is not easily scared but is not fearless. He rated Slender as the scariest game; his reason for this was “Fear of the unknown” and “Things sneaking up behind you”. The game rated as the least scary was Spec Ops: The Line, saying that there was nothing sudden.

In the questionnaire he was asked to identify the scariest and least scary aspect in each of the games he played. They were:

Game

Most Scary Aspect

Least Scary Aspect

Resident Evil 5

Turning around to find someone behind you.

Stand and shoot.

Sheva*

Silent Hill 3

Odd creatures

Falling in holes**

Dead Space 2

Dark and things jumping at you

The beginning credits

Bioshock

Dark and things jumping at you

The Irish man***

Slender

Sudden noise and dark

-

Spec Ops: The Line

Burnt People

Non-burnt people

While playing these games his heart rate and physical reactions were recorded.

Game

Heart Rate Increases

Physical Reactions

Resident Evil 5

-

-

Silent Hill 3

At the end of the first cut scene, first encounter with enemy and death on the rollercoaster

-

Dead Space 2

First death*

-

Bioshock

None

-

Slender

First encounter, sudden sounds** and death

-

Spec Ops: The Line

None

-

*Participant died multiple times on the Dead Space 2 playthrough

**After finding the second page random bursts of static occur

Participant 3

A 20 year old student male, who has moderate experience with horror and is not easily scared. He has played Bioshock and Resident Evil 5. The game that was rated the highest was Slender. His reasons for this are the concept of the game, the simple mechanics made it hard to survive, the fact that you couldn’t kill the threat and the suspense of wandering around the map. The game he rated the lowest was Spec Ops: The Line. He chose this as the lowest because it lacked driven suspense, it lacked an overall ‘creepy’ style and dark settings, there were no threatening or scary enemies, and difficult/mediocre game-play controls.

In the questionnaire he was asked to identify the scariest and least scary aspect in each of the games he played. They were:

Game

Most Scary Aspect

Least Scary Aspect

Resident Evil 5

Relentless threat

Game maps

Silent Hill 3

Creepy setting

Realism of enemies and weapons

Dead Space 2

Gore and brutality aspect

Simple game-play, introduction

Bioshock

Creepy enemies

Soundtrack

Slender

Suspense Building

Graphics

Spec Ops: The Line

Graphic cut-scene

The games light setting and art*

*Participant means how the game is set in the day

While playing these games his heart rate and physical reactions were recorded.

Game

Heart Rate Increases

Physical Reactions

Resident Evil 5

When hit by the axe enemy, on the run with low health and grabbed by an enemy to then be hit by the axe enemy

-

Silent Hill 3

At the end of the first cut scene and first encounter with enemy and death

-

Dead Space 2

-*

-*

Bioshock

-*

-*

Slender

When a page was collected, the first encounter and death

-

Spec Ops: The Line

When seeing the burnt bodies of the innocents

-

*Video and audio data was corrupt

Participant 4

20 year old male works in computing. He has little experience with horror and is easily scared and he has not played any of the games before. This participant rated Bioshock as the scariest game because “it built up tension and you never know when the next enemy would show up.” Spec Ops: The Line was the least scary game because “it was not scary”.

In the questionnaire he was asked to identify the scariest and least scary aspect in each of the games he played. They were:

Game

Most Scary Aspect

Least Scary Aspect

Resident Evil 5

Big zombie

The zombies did not look like zombie

Silent Hill 3

Very haunted, troubling place

Creatures did not look scary

Dead Space 2

Very dark. Second part was scary because it went dark

Was not expecting much to happen since I’m in a straight jacket

Bioshock

Dark didn’t know what was going to appear

Was scared the whole time

Slender

When Slender appeared

Running around the woods

Spec Ops: The Line

Was not scary

Was not scary

While playing these games his heart rate and physical reactions were recorded.

Game

Heart Rate Increases

Physical Reactions

Resident Evil 5

When surrounded by enemies and seeing axe enemy approaching, first fight and death

-

Silent Hill 3

At the end of the first cut scene and death

-

Dead Space 2

Hallucination* and death at the door quick time event

-

Bioshock

First fight, the flooding tunnel, watching the Big Daddy fight a Splicer, death and when trapped at the end of the level

-

Slender

First encounter, when collecting the first page and death

‘Jumped’

Spec Ops: The Line

Erratic beat when finding the innocents

-

*During the introduction cut-scene the character is being interrogated. During this he starts to hallucinate about the previous game.

Participant 5

22 year old female, is a student studying the performing arts. Plays video games for less than 30 minutes a week, has not played any of the games and has little experience of horror and is very easily scared. She rated Slender and Spec Ops: The Line as the scariest games, her reasons for these are: in Slender – “The atmosphere, and the unknown aspect it played on”. In Spec Ops: The Line – “the scary part was seeing what your actions have caused”. She rated Resident Evil 5 as the least scary game because “The atmosphere didn’t create any horror.”

In the questionnaire she was asked to identify the scariest and least scary aspect in each of the games she played. They were:

Game

Most Scary Aspect

Least Scary Aspect

Resident Evil 5

Nothing

The game as a whole

Silent Hill 3

The music and darkness

The monsters

Dead Space 2

Nothing

The game as a whole

Bioshock

The darkness

Everything else

Slender

Everything, the atmosphere; the music, the darkness, the sense of the unknown

There wasn’t, everything scared me

Spec Ops: The Line

Seeing what your actions had done

The actual game play

While playing these games her heart rate and physical reactions were recorded.

Game

Heart Rate Increases

Physical Reactions

Resident Evil 5

Death of the butcher*, first encounter, grabbed by zombie and death

‘Jumped’ at every time the character was grabbed

Silent Hill 3

-**

-

Dead Space 2

Hallucination and first encounter

Looked uneasy at the mutation

Bioshock

Seeing Rapture for the first time and Splicer attacking the biosphere

-

Slender

-**

‘Jumped’

Spec Ops: The Line

When seeing the burnt mother holding her child

Covered face with hands and looked physically disgusted

*In the actual game the characters meet with a butcher beforehand who gives them weapons.

**She said that she had difficulties in other situations when her pulse could not be found.

Online Questionnaire

A questionnaire (Appendix 5) was posted online on a number of horror related or gaming websites asking for people to watch a number of videos and rate each one for how scary it. The videos the participants watched were playthroughs of the games and levels that have been discussed in previous sections.

The hypothesis for this questionnaire is that Silent Hill 3 will be rated as the scariest game. This is due to its dark, unsettling atmosphere, the vulnerability of the female character and the reputation that the game has. Because this questionnaire was conducted on online, a number of people might have already completed some of the games and might consequently be influenced by remembering sections of the game that are not in the videos and therefore rate it higher or lower according to their experience.

Each participant was asked their age, gender, if they were employed, and if so which sector they are employed in, how much time they spent playing video games and which horror games they have played. They were then asked to watch a playthrough of the games discussed in previous sections of this report (page 12 -13) and rate them on a scale of 1 – 10, 1 being not scary and 10 being terrifying. After watching and rating all the videos they were also asked what did they found scary about the game/s that they had rated the highest and what was lacking in the games they rated the lowest.

Summary of Responses -

A number of comments were received about the games that were rated highest by the participants. Here is a select few:

“Bioshock succeeds in being scary because the player has no idea what’s attacking the pod/elevator, has obscured vision and because the sight of Rapture has already set up an element of mystery and danger. By putting the player in the pod and giving them no weapon, they also provoke a feeling of helplessness. Dead Space has a moderately successful jump scare and makes the player helpless due to the bound wrists/lack of weaponry, which is great to induce a short term panic. The subsequent section exploring abandoned, dark rooms is good for inducing paranoia”

“Being alone and the general sense of paranoia emitted from the games. You never really knew what was going to happen next most of the time, and it made you worry. Even when you completed the game, you never knew what to expect. You could take a breath after the last page in Slender, but that didn’t mean it was over.”

“The intent about both horryfying and scarying to death the player.Immersion -Great atmosphere. – Player encouraged to use their imagination. – In the Silent Hill the use of darkness removes the player’s ability to keep tabs on what’s going on. Anything can be out there in the darkness. For example at 5:50 in the SH3 video a sound effect denotes something is out there. We don’t know what is could be or how dangerous it is, creating a tense atmosphere. “I hope Mr Satan isn’t waiting out there for me.”, “Oh shit, what was that. *I don’t know*” – I liked the survival element in the ResE5 video in which the player had to barricade the room. Gives a great sense of being trapped.”

“Slender is a scarier game in my opinion. Darker atmosphere and a sense of being alone. The others feel that way, to some extent, but they add a lot of color, making it feel unrealistic. Slender seems like it actually could be me really lost in the woods, sounds of natural things(crickets) add to the immersion. ”

“Slender and Silent Hill are masters of atmosphere. Spec Ops is not like most horror games, but it’s a chilling experience and one of my favorite games. Bioshock is nice, but doesn’t quite measure up to the others.Being pitted against the unknown, with your mind creating various horrifying scenarios that *could* happen at any second. The feeling of helplessness, in which you have little to no way of protecting yourself against whatever is lurking in the dark.”

“A scene like that in a war game carries a lot of impact when you think about the popularity of other war games of a similar nature. Although we use it as escapism, Spec Ops manages to make an impact on the player through his actions, which highlights the reality behind the game. Although, I’ll also mention that I rated this the highest partially due to the fact that I’ve played most the other options multiple times already.”

“Silent Hill games are known for being truly horrifying. The demonic creatures, tense atmospheres, disconcerting sound effects, and pounding music all combine into a nightmare of a game. I had only ever played Silent Hill 1 and 2 and those started off more slowly than this one. The abruptness of the enemies appearing threw me off and made the video terrifying.”

“Confined Spaces. I Have a slight claustrophobia, so i’m generally not a fan of those. Secondly, There’s this feel of danger, generated mostly by good mixture of music, ambient noise and use of shadows, (but not overuse)”

A number of comments were received about the games that were rated lowest and deemed not scary by the participants. Here is a select few:

“Spec Ops isn’t scary because during this segment of the game, the player has the power. Nothing in the section is threatening. This ties in with the intention of the game as a commentary on modern military shooters, which give the player all the power but ignore the consequences of their actions. Spec Ops is a great game, and could definitely be described as depressing or emotionally draining, but scary it is not. On the other hand, RE5 IS trying to be scary, but fails, because everything is predictable in terms of how the enemy attacks and appears, and because nothing is left up to psychology – everything is in plain sight, so there is no ‘fear of the unknown’ element.”

“They gave you a lot of power. For example, its hard to be scared of jack in Dead Space 2 when you have a pistol that can set people on fire when you shoot them. I mean seriously? A game is only as terrifying as the player is powerful. If my ammo is limited, and my gun is only good for headshots, then my first option is going to be to run if I am offered it, and save the ammo for an enemy more ferocious. RE5 and DS2 did not do that, and really killed themselves by doing that.”

“Slender kinda sucks. Mostly because of it’s over hype. Penumbra series (which for me are the most scary games ever made, especially the second one) used symialar mechanics( huge, easy to get lost enviroment hubs, monster the will chase you and you don;t really have any way of opposing them other then hiding and fleeing) but there it works, because monster are SOMEWHERE in the world looking for you rather then teleporting right in front of your face.”

“Walking about with a small armoury on your back isn’t scary. Bioshock – Scary enemies that aren’t much of a threat. Clunky movement – I’ve not played any of the Resident Evil games, but from an onlooker’s perspective it looks horribly clunky to control. The super slow moving zombies seem like a result of this. – I’d much rather my character have limited abilities (such as ammo, running), than a limited and clunky interface. It breaks immersion. Jump scares, whilst effective, are super boring and often very predictable. – Doom 3 is especially bad at those, whenever entering a room I always cleared it out, walked past the conveniently place vent, turned around, shot the thing.”

“Personally, I find it hard to get in to a horror mind set when you’re running around in the middle of the day, in an open environment. Furthermore, being thrown in to an area in which you just have to survive for a certain amount of time isn’t at all scary when you’re a walking steroid with a gun.”

“To me, scares only land if they’re jump scares, because I’m a jumpy person. Horror doesn’t really affect me because jump scares are cheap and psychological scares only have weight when you’ve become attached to the character they afflict.”

“The games with the lowest scores usually just rely on jump scares to scare you. That’s not scaring me; that’s startling me.Atmosphere and vulnerability. Seriously, just look at 2:48 of the Resident Evil clip. That’s something that should be in a comedy. Chris Redfield is an ass kicker-extraordinaire and I feel sorry for anything that thinks it can take his tree sized arms on in a fight and come out of it with all of their body parts attached. Spec Ops is a great game but it isn’t aiming for the kind of horror that these others try (and mostly fail) to achieve. Walker is the real monster here, so the only fear that the players feel is what they are helping him to unwittingly achieve. Something that both these clips have in common is that the protagonist is the one with all the power. The enemies should be scared of them, and thus the player, and not the other way around. Of the games mentioned in this survey, only Slenderman, Amnesia, and Silent Hill are what I would call legitimate horror games. Out of all the monsters in the other games, it’s the playable characters who would be the most frightening to get into a fight with.”

“Slender is all about building tension but in that video the bloody slenderman took too long to turn up. I was too bored to be frightened when he bothered to make an appearance. Spec Ops the line looks fantastic and I will play it. But I didn’t find it scary. If I was playing it I would feel really guilty about causing that suffering, but not frightened.”

“Spec Ops: The Line and Resident Evil 5 are both pretty tame. While both games have truly visceral scenes, they are not very scary. The scenes may shock people, but the impact is not horror, it is the violent deaths of the soldiers/villagers that might scare people. Also, I do not find the Slender games to be too scary. The model of slender to me looks dumb and I see no reason to be afraid if you’re only adversity is a motionless model. Also, I believe that the Slender games have bastardized one of the coolest entities to come out of SomethingAwful/Creepypasta and that may be the source of my contempt for Slender games.”

(All comments and statistics can be seen here.)

Analysis

Experiment Results – The results bore out of the hypothesis in that Slender: The Eight Pages produced the greatest physical response out of the participants but it was also rated as the scariest game. The game that was rated as the least scary was Spec Ops: The Line.

Participant

Scariest Game

Least Scary Game

Control

Slender

Spec Ops

1

Silent Hill 3

Spec Ops

2

Slender

Spec Ops

3

Slender

Spec Ops

4

Bioshock

Spec Ops

5

Slender/Spec Ops

Resident Evil 5/Dead Space 2

Spec Ops: The Line received the lowest rating; it gained this rating because it is an action game. Some parts of Spec Ops could be classed as horror or disturbing but the game as a whole is classed as action. Other reasons for the rating are that it lacked dark setting and there was nothing sudden. However, one participant did rate it has the scariest game her reason for this are “The realisation of what you had done, playing games you just get use to killing things. This game gave you consequences to your actions.”

Slender: The Eight Pages was rated as the scariest game and gave the greatest physical reactions. The reason for the physical reactions is because Slender is a jump scare game, the game relies on making the player jump to get its scares. This is achieved by the combination of the atmosphere and simple mechanics. The game takes places in dark woods shrouded in fog which will make the player uneasy. The audio in the game is just a repeating slow drum beat, the players footsteps and breathing, and the static which appears when Slender is near or randomly after finding the second page.

The reasons for it having the highest rating were “The suspense of wondering around the map”, “shot quick burst of static creates a random element which will make people jump” and “the fear of the unknown”.

Online Results – When the results were all gathered and examined, the results were that Silent Hill 3 was deemed the scariest game with 26% rating it 8 out of ten. The least scary game was Spec Ops: The Line with 53% of the vote with a rating of 1 out of 10.

Silent Hill 3 was deemed the scarcest game this was mainly because of its unsettling atmosphere and the player having no sense of what to do or what was happening. As one participant says “The enemies and the environment are deeply foreboding you get the real feeling that the protagonist is at what little mercy they have to offer.”

Again as in the experiment Spec Ops was rated as the least scary game. The majority of participants in both questionnaires noted that it is an action game not a horror. As one participant commented, “It was action, what was supposed to be scary. Spec Ops seems like an action game here. The victims at the end, that was graphic not scary.”

Conclusion

At the beginning of the project, the stated intention was investigate how players are affected by horror games, and to examine which factors within these games create the greatest scare from the player.

During the research it was found that a number of factors are used to create scares but to create the greatest scare these factors should be used in conjunction with each other. For example in Silent Hill 2, the town itself is grounded in reality so gives the fear a purpose; it creates a strong sense of place and has excellent ambiguity, just what is out there in the fog?

The other characters within the game bring in human interaction; the protagonist must defend a woman during one section of the game and talks to a number of characters throughout. The relationship with the protagonist starts with James entering Silent Hill, at this point we know nothing about him and he is used as a blank slate for the player to project themselves onto, but as you start exploring the town you meet other characters who are seeing their own version of the town and in turn you start to question what James sees.

The enemies within the game all take after a characters mental aspects, for example the mannequins represent his sexual urges and one of the boss fights is another characters representation of her abusive father. These enemies both reflect the environment and the mental aspects of the characters and so make them the more terrifying. During one section of the game in a block of apartments you see what appears to be a man behind some bars as you get closer, you cannot see exactly because it is dark and the figure is just out of sight. You cannot reach it nor can it reach you, and this builds up the sense of anticipation and ambiguity. After going into the adjacent room and leaving again the monster is gone, the sense of fear deepens due to the change to the environment. By using all of these factors together, a terrifying game has been created that has been rated by countless people as the scariest horror game of all time.

The experiment and online questionnaire were both successful. The hypotheses on both were only partially correct. The hypothesis for the experiment was that Slender would produce the greatest physical reactions, which it did but Silent Hill 3 was to receive the highest rating from the participants. Instead Slender was rated as the scariest. This was because Silent Hill 3′s introduction is scary but it becomes scarier only as the player progresses through the game. Slender puts the player on edge instantly located in a dark forest while being stalked by a monster and not knowing why they are there or what is happening. In the online questionnaire Silent Hill 3 was rated as the scariest game. This occurred with 26% rating 8 out of 10 for being scary compared to other games which scored lower.

Some problems occurred during the project namely the corruption of recording data, location issues, sickness and game selection. During one of the experiments the video and audio data did not save correctly and so was corrupted, rendering the data unusable. Two of the participants could not travel as one had a broken leg so the experiment had to take place in their flat which would have affected the results, personal illness lasted for several days but time was allocated for this event.

The selection of Spec Ops: The Line was seen as an odd choice by a number of people due to it being an action game and not a horror. However, some of the events in the game are horrifying.

Additionally, the way the game forces the player’s choices and how you see the character’s mental condition deteriorates throughout the game does make it into an action game that could be classed as a horror.(source:gamecareerguide)


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