Posts Tagged Atmosphere

What a gamer can teach us about writing

Last night I had a devil of a time sleeping, to the point where I gave up for several hours and ended up sitting on The Escapist, a site that I visit largely for Zero Punctuation.  I sat down with a series of videos I was aware of but hadn’t watched called Extra Credits.  It’s a series of animated lectures on various topics regarding how game developers can better approach the market and in the end make better games.  Ultimately they’d love to see games be brought to the level of being widely acknowledged as an art form, much like writing and movies are.

That I’ve found some inspiration from the series, thus, shouldn’t surprise me too much.  It does often take the approach of how games can have better told stories, so that there are episodes that are applicable well beyond the field of video game design shouldn’t be a surprise.  In particular, I found two videos on the topic of horror.

And now, some required viewing with my own thoughts after.

Extra Credits: Where Did Survival Horror Go?

This touches a lot of frustrations that I have with modern horror cinema.  At some point film makers decided that the way to scare people was to throw black cats and monsters at them.  And the video touches on that exact point from the video gaming perspective: the point when the technology allowed filmmakers to get lazy by showing the evil horror lurking around the edges of older movies.  Silent Hill had atmospheric fog obscuring much of the game because the PS1 rendering engine couldn’t handle the graphics the designers want.  Jaws had a shark that you only got to see glimpses of because their mechanical shark broke down and couldn’t be used as thoroughly as planned.

In the end it comes down to the idea of sure we can but does that mean we should.  Movies can be the ultimate in survival horror because the audience isn’t allowed to make any decisions that alter the outcome of the movie.  They’re just being grabbed and dragged along for the ride.  And the most terrifying thing that any person will ever encounter is the thing in their mind, filling in all of their personal fears and neuroses.

Extra Credits: Symbolism 101

Don’t look at the name of this video.  It’s called symbolism,but a lot of it is exploring the questions of what makes horror actually work.  And it’s boiled down into the triple concept of horror: Self, The Other, and The Uncanny.  I really can’t improve on the video by commenting on it.  In the end, it’s a short and perfectly crafted exploration about what can make things scary, with an introduction to the psychology of why.

So give them a view, they’re fantastic viewing.  And if you’re entertained by the style, certainly give the rest of the series a chance.

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