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Scary Game Findings: A Study Of Horror Games And Their Players
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Scary Game Findings: A Study Of Horror Games And Their Players

September 7, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 5


Actual combat is not as scary as the implied threat of combat. The biggest cares result from moments devoid of any physical combat; instances in which players anticipate or fear they are about to fight, but do not actually end up doing so.

Cutscenes are generally not sources of fear for most players, but casual players react more strongly to them. Core players seldom find cutscenes scary. Most players find cutscenes to be a respite from the game itself, though a minority of players is capable of being scared by some videos.

The first confrontation is almost always the scariest. In every game, across all player experience-levels, the first encounters with the enemies are much scarier than later ones.

Repeat failure prevents scenes from retaining any initial scariness they may have had before. Whenever players repeatedly die or spend too long struggling with navigation, frustration replaces fear. If major usability issues exist/occur, then players will be far less scared.

Gore in isolation can be provocative, but not scary. In some cases, the grotesque can make scenes scarier, providing there are other factors also contributing. Players are frightened even more when normal scares are accompanied by disgusting or shocking content. This gory material alone, however, fails to scare players.

Casual players are more easily scared than core players, but also enjoy the games more. Experienced gamers' familiarity with the medium, and their existing expectations of it, means they are less likely to become scared than casual gamers.

The closer a game resembles film, the more casual players are scared. Conversely, the less scripted a game is, the more the core players are scared. Third-person, tightly scripted events are scarier to casual players than to core gamers, while first-person, generative events are scarier to experienced players.

Heightened tension can be created by a potent atmosphere. This will keep the player engaged and ultimately make the scares bigger. Games which keep players engaged even when events are not occurring (by presenting a stimulating atmosphere) are more likely to scare players when those events do occur.

Large numbers of enemies makes games less scary. Once players are asked to dispatch more than two or three enemies at a time, they become less scared. Familiarity with enemies renders them less scary.

Scariest Game Rankings: "The scariest game on the Xbox 360"

Based on our observations and analysis, as well as direct questioning of the players themselves, the following order was determined:





Dead Space 2

Dead Space 2



Alan Wake


Alan Wake

Resident Evil 5


Resident Evil 5


Biometric Storyboards

(Where conflict between player experiences exist, core players were used for these storyboards rather than casual)

Conduction and analysis by: Joel Windels with Graham McAllister, Adam Smith, Gareth White and Pejman Mirza-Babaei

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 5

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