Scared of my Backlog - It Starts
I love horror movies. The last two years of my life have been dedicated to watching horror movies, talking about horror movies, and elevating the not often heard voices and perspectives of people who love horror. There is something so fascinating and cathartic when I put on a horror movie, I find them to be comforting and an escape not many find themselves looking to. The comfort that my favourite slashers bring puts a smile on my face and gives a massive dopamine hit that I often go searching for on purpose. It’s a pleasurable activity that took me almost 20 years to find, however, the thought of playing horror games absolutely terrifies me.
Horror games give me the sweats. I’m talking debilitating fear, clutching my PlayStation controller, squeezing my eyes shut type of sweats. I’m the kind of person whose life is shortened by even the slightest piece of horror in a game. When I was a teenager, I would purposely invite my friends around so I wouldn’t be alone playing through Silent Hill on my PlayStation 2. We would huddle on the two couches in our family room and scream our way through the sirens and smoke. When my friends were there, I was fearless. Alone, I was a one-way ticket to nightmare town. There was no way in hell I was going to sit there by myself but, I was certainly going to sit and play it cool with my friends like I was not internally crapping myself.
The exact moment that my fear of horror games began can be pinpointed. At the age of 6 or 7, I spent my afternoons indulging in my Donkey Kong obsession, spending extra time with my favourite character Dixy. One beautiful Summer evening (I am speculating it was beautiful and Summer), I laid my head to rest not knowing that my world was going to forever change. That night, as I lay dreaming, I was Dixy Kong, my long blonde hair topped with a cool pink cap. I enter the level, it’s grassy and there are lots of trees and platforms that I need to jump on and over. Through the grass came a swarm of the undead and I had to swing myself to safety, the zombies always there, always right on my tail. My time came to a grisly end when I wound up swinging into a spider’s web which led to my inevitable demise, the zombies ravaging my body at their leisure. I woke in fright, hastily vowing to never play a horror video game as long as I shall live.
For over seven years I worked in the video games industry as an Assistant Brand Manager working on the Australian release of titles in the Resident Evil franchise. I have to admit to myself, probably not the best title to promote for someone who has a debilitating fear of zombies and the undead. I’ve spent hours in press meetings watching gaming outlets and content creators playing through games like Resident Evil 2 with Mr X kicking down doors and lickers biting off heads. I’ve heard convention attendees scream their way through demos and our zombie maze. To be honest, I am surprised I haven’t been desensitised to the whole idea of horror games. Sadly that has not been the case at all.
Over the years I have accumulated a ridiculous amount of horror games on Switch, PC, and PlayStation, while at the same time avoiding playing them like the plague. This backlog is my secret shame and if I am honest with myself the fact that I have been avoiding them so I don’t crap myself is pretty hilarious in itself considering the movies that I choose to watch on a daily basis. Being able to sit back and watch horror movies without being involved in the decision-making process is what has drawn me to them rather than games of the same genre. Games force me to make conscious decisions that could be life or death for my character. Movies on the other hand let me be responsibility free. That and the fact that I won’t have to replay a level a hundred times because I can’t stop screaming and dying.
There is a plan though, I am going to get through this shameful backlog. Each week I am going to pick up a game, play it, and reflect on my experiences. I’ll be providing pre-game assumptions and thoughts and then a wrap up about the game. Was it as terrifying as I first thought? What was scary throughout the game? Would I play it again? I think it’s time to dive into this pile of Resident Evils, Dying Light, The Last of Us, Until Dawn, and Amnesia (and more!), and put my horror movie hardened nerves to the test.