It’s Halloween here at Kotaku Tower, and while the others are busy getting the automated defencsprecious candy, I thought I would take a moment to explore some of the most terrifying moments in gaming. No, I am not talking about the first time a tentacle grabs you in Dead Space, or the part in Resident Evil where something breaks through a window. While good for a scare, those aren’t real.
What I’m talking about are real-life situations that gamers get into that are truly frightening. True tales of gaming horror that could happen to any of us at any moment. Turn on your night light and check under the bed before hitting the jump.
5. The Unannounced Family Visit: I don’t know about your family, but mine can be pretty terrifying at times, and no more so than when they show up at my door when I am deep into a game, causing me to pause it, which gives me something to stare at while they go on about whatever it is they think is more important. Just the fact that the game is right there in front of you, yet you cannot touch it, feel it, or lose yourself deep within its immersive environments brings to mind the movie (based on the novel) Johnny Got His Gun, where a World War I soldier winds up with no arms, no legs, and cannot speak, trapped inside his own body. Playing Metallica’s “One” in your head during these moments only heightens the sensation.
4. Memory Card Full: This doesn’t happen much anymore, so it’s the video game equivalent of ghost stories revolving around kids making out in the woods in cars once spacious enough to do so. When I picked up my very first PlayStation with Final Fantasy VII, no one mentioned that I would be needing a memory card, which led to a late night Wal Mart run during a thunderstorm while living in an apartment complex prone to brown outs. The guys at Penny Arcade know what I am talking about. Scary, yes, but much more agonizing when you have a memory card and it simply doesn’t have enough room on it. It’s just that much worse when it could have easily been prevented.
3. The Power Outage: There is something primordially scary about the darkness. What we cannot see cannot hurt us, but try telling our imagination that. The darkness can be even more terrifying, however, when accompanied by the afterimage of the game you were just playing ghosting in your vision. You’re just about to beat the boss in a game you’ve been trying to complete for weeks, and just before you strike the final blow, everything goes black. That isn’t just a power outage. That’s a boss so powerful he reached into the real world and blew a transformer in your neighbourhood, just to thwart you. Perhaps now he’s out there in the darkness, waiting…
2. The Booty Call: On one hand, I hope you’ve experienced this particular horror filled moment, but on the other it’s probably for the best that you haven’t. You’re deep into a game…deeper that you’ve ever been…perhaps even in the zone, and suddenly your significant other starts kissing your ear, or brushing their fingers along your arm…tell-tale signs that they want to get romantic. The younger gamers among us would say that the choice is an easy one, but the older gamers out there know this feeling. Do you pull the save point card? Do you tell your raid that you have to drop for personal reasons? Or perhaps you risk continuing to play, hoping for make-up sex later? The most terrifying thing about this particular horror is the sheer fact that we spend the better part of our youth desperate for moments like this, and now we have to pause to think about it, even for a moment.
1. System Failure: This is the big one, ladies and gentlemen. A moment so terrifying that it gives me shivers just to type out this paragraph. There is no moment quite as horrifying as being in the middle of your favourite new game, perhaps snuggled up in your favourite chair with snacks arranged strategically around you so you don’t have to get up for anything, only to have your console make an odd sound and simply power off, never to power on again. Microsoft went as far as giving this fear a face, which players then gave a name – the Red Ring of Death. Much worse when you are out of warranty, and even more so when you are living paycheck to paycheck.
These are just five examples out of many of the real life horrors we face as gamers, and I’m sure you folks have many more to share. Running out of batteries for your controllers, getting cornered by that one freaky guy who hangs out at GameStop…it’s amazing any of us made it past 30 really. Feel free to share your horror stories in the comments section, and remember – our machine gun turrets have locked onto your heat signatures. Happy Halloween!