It’s quite a curious thing the way the human mind likes to run towards some very frightening activities and ideas. I’d like to think it’s more out of curiosity than any sense of impending doom, but whether we’re just looking into everything we can find to explore life even more or there is truly something unsettling within the human psyche, it’s very interesting to look into why humans enjoy delving into the things that scare them the most. From horror movies to horror games, we are all (for the most part) fascinated by some pretty horrific things. Let’s take a deep dive into the world of horror games and find out exactly why we love these games that chill us to our bones.
One of the biggest draws of horror games is their ability to let us live out our worst nightmares in a safe environment. Much in the same way we often have really confusing, often terrifying dreams in an attempt to make sense of things which just don’t make sense, when we play horror games, we are given the opportunity to work through our worst fears in a place where we aren’t in any actual danger. This is part of the reason why psychological horror games have such a thriving market: we love exploring the depth of the human psyche and seeing just how far we can push ourselves into the dark abyss, especially when we don’t have to leave our couches.
Another reason horror games are so popular is that they let us take our frustrations out in healthy ways. At the end of a long day at work, when all you want to do is sit back, relax, and forget about the world, sometimes the best thing to do is slaughter a few hundred zombies to feel at peace with life. In the same way running can release endorphins and playing paintball with a good group of friends can be a great way of expending pent-up energy, playing horror games can be a healthy outlet for all the frustration that we build up over time. If you have a particularly stressful job or your life is just not quite what you would like it to be, playing a zombie game or any good slasher can be a great way to release that energy in a safe, legal way.
Overall, the overarching draw of horror games is the same reason that we love gaming in general: it lets us step away from normal life for a little while and just be someone completely different. When it comes down to it, none of us would really want to fight a zombie or run from a crazed killer; we would be completely terrified and end up being the character who dies at the very beginning of the game. However, in video games, we can step outside ourselves and explore activities which give us completely new experiences. And really, new experiences are something everyone wants.
Whether you love horror games or they’re the kind of thing you can only stomach if you play them in the afternoon with all of the lights on and your feet tucked up inside a cozy blanket, it’s undeniable that we human beings love to experience things that would be difficult and dangerous in real life as both an exploration of that experience, and as a way of stepping away from reality. Essentially, we love horror games for the same reasons we love all games; they let us experience something outside of our normal lives.