Our Readers' Spookiest Gaming Stories

Haunted houses are passe. It's 2017. We have haunted video games now.

Halo 2

Kotaku is celebrating all things ghostly and gaming this week with Spooky Week. All week, look forward to ghoulish blogs on the unlikely games that scared us most, the real tales behind some of gaming's most legendary scary stories, and what specific mechanics make us twitchy when we play horror games.

To help kick off Spooky Week, we wanted to share some of the real-life scary stories we've heard from gamers who are pretty sure they have come in contact with the supernatural - or at least, something that made their hair stand on end. Ghost, glitch or good luck? You decide. And share your scariest stories of when games got too real in the comments.

20 years ago, when he was a teenager, LazyCouchGamer picked up a used copy of the fantasy role-playing game Secret of Mana at a video rental store. He was playing through the game's fire palace alongside a princess when enemy blobs of lava appeared. They began multiplying. Suddenly, an enemy blob seemed to grab the princess and disappeared, he recalled. Her HP gauge disappeared, too. It was like she had never existed. He freaked out, but reconsidered, thinking it was just a sudden and unexpected plot twist in the game. But later on, he couldn't progress further: The game would wait and wait for a text box from the princess, who had vanished into nothing. He reset the game, and for years, joked that it was haunted.

In the mid-2000s, SaskFPS and his buddy were flouncing around Halo 2 on the Xbox 360, launching themselves into the air with super bounces, as one did. Another friend logged on to join them on Headlong, Halo 2's multiplayer map. The host changed to the mutual friend. They all continued playing, just jumping around and shooting all over. Moments later, an unidentified player joined. That player hovered around the brownish map, no name above their head. Confused, SaskFPS eyed the scoreboard. Nothing about them was there. SaskFPS recalled a video he'd seen called the "Ghost of Lockout", a Halo 2 superstition that made the rounds back in 2006. Some players claimed to have encountered an unidentified, no-name white Spartan who repeatedly blew up their party with plasma grenades. Seemingly invincible, in the video, the Spartan was seen wrecking the players' party, totally anonymously, in instants.

SaskFPS had always thought the video was fake. Fearlessly, he and his buddy tried to take down the new player's shields, meleeing and shooting in a fatal, quick combination known as BXRing. Then, his friend quad shotted it, "because he just wanted to practise," SaskFPS told me. Halo 2's blue loading screen appeared; time for the hosts to migrate. When the game began anew, there was a second unidentified player. The original one came at SaskFPS with a rifle, he remembered, repeating his fatal attack back on him and then echoing his friend's quad-shot back at him. SaskFPS now believes in the Ghost of Lockout.

Jake O'Connell and his friend David took a trip to a farm in the UK county of Cornwall to celebrate another friend's birthday. At the celebration, Jake and David drank enough to feel buzzed, and, of course, susceptible to bad ideas. He and David noticed an old, rotten caravan in one of the farm's far-flung fields earlier that night and thought it might be fun to stay in it. Making their way over and opening its door, Jake and David found the van full of cobwebs, with a brutal stench rising from its rotting interior. It seemed too creepy to stay in - but then they noticed an SNES console loaded up with Mario Kart, an old CRT TV, and a small stereo.

Pumped, they fired up the console, which miraculously still worked. They were thrilled to race in Mario Kart in a decrepit old van. But when they flicked on the CRT TV, creepy synth music began to play — not from the television, but from whatever CD was in the car stereo, totally unconnected and up front, he said. In the rear of the van, the television began sparking and banging and smoking. Frantically, they tried to turn the TV off, but it wouldn't respond. Smoke continued to rise. The TV crackled. It remained on until it was unplugged.

Duke, an avid Battlefield 1 player, logged on to the World War 1 first-person shooter around midnight to mow down some enemies alongside his friends. It was dark outside, and Duke played in his living room with the lights off. Dead after one round, he was waiting to respawn when, out of nowhere, he heard a scream resounding from inside the game. It was a pinging, blood-curdling digital scream that resounded twice, one that, when you hear it, sends a bracing vibration through your head. He'd played more hours of Battlefield 1 than he's willing to admit, and he had never heard this sound before. "What the fuck was that?" David asked his friends. None of his friends had heard the scream. He's not sure to this day whether it was a bad patch of code or a screaming woman whose voice was muffled over the server. Listen for yourself:

In the spring of 2016, a gamer named Martin picked up The Forest. In it, the player has survived a plane crash and must shelter, feed and protect himself from the elements on a remote island. Martin enjoyed the game, gathering items and materials to sustain himself, and after some time playing, turned off his console, satisfied. It was 28 November 2016. The next day, Martin's feeds were saturated with news of the LaMia charter flight that crashed in Colombia. It was in the background of his day, and without thinking much more about it, Martin later decided to load up The Forest again. He was eager to explore more of the island where his character was marooned. Searching the wreckage of the plane crash, Martin found a passenger manifest. It included his name: Martin H. He was seated in 11C.

Look forward to tales of ghosts and glitches all week during Kotaku's Spooky Week.


    You want a scary story how bout this....

    The year was 1999, a turbulent year for technology where our minds were both filled with excitement and dread. You see the year 2000 was just around the corner and with it came the possibility of hover boards and electric cars...but also....we were cautious...what if this Y2K issue everyone was whispering about really did drive us back to the stone age. No television, no power....no video games. Alas, we forged ahead unwilling to imagine a world without my trusty N64 or PlayStation. My Dad, an accountant, a proper man, bestowed upon me a game for my birthday....inside the wrapping paper I found Superman 64. Ten minutes of play on the first level and I wished Y2K would take it all away.

    In an MMO we had a member of the guild pass away from cancer. We cancelled raids, some attended the funeral, and we decided that it was also Anzac Day that week so we had an in-game memorial, moment of silence and chat.

    About 15 minutes after our moment of silence, the decease's main character logs into the game and types in guild chat "Am I Late".

    There was a pause of a deafening silence over teamspeak, which felt weirdly quieter than the silence before, and then someone screamed on teamspeak and then pure chaos with over 40 people all chatting and swearing on teamspeak and flooding the guild and local channels and what not... had to mute everyone, disable guild chat priveleges to sort the panic.

    Turned out it was his older brother, he got told about the event and and wanted to come on and say thanks to everyone for supporting his brother during his chemo, and wanted to connect with us.

    In 2006 I was playing Final Fantasy XI with two IRL friends. We had an American friend who we also played with. Long story short, he died in a car accident, but one of my IRL friends and I had this odd experience before we found out where his character just popped into the game, followed us around Sarutabaruta, but said nothing. Unbeknownst to us, he'd been dead a day yet his character was running around with us. We took screen caps because we thought he'd been hacked.
    I still think someone else just jumped on his account, but it was weird to think that someone at his home dealing with the need would decide to get on his FFXI account and interact with his guild.

    Pfft, you forgot to start the stories in the proper way: "This is a true story; it happened to a friend of a friend..."

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