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When Will Games Disturb Us? 242

Posted by Zonk
from the creepy-little-girls dept.
Game Girl Advance brings up the subject of emotion in games, again, by going to the dark places. Jane talks about movies that are just plain uncomfortable to watch (shades of Donnie Darko), and wonders why when games will have the same effect. From the article: "Yet you could argue that Manhunt used a cheap trick - it set up the situation in order to exploit it for someone's idea of 'fun.' You could say that the developers did not mean to convey any message beyond entertainment. City of God was entertaining, in the broadest sense of the word, but it was also a portrait of hopelessness and a cycle that trapped its inhabitants; it was also in some ways a social history of gang violence in the slums from the seventies to the eighties. Manhunt does not have enough external references to be about anything other than what it is."
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When Will Games Disturb Us?

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  • by Amouth (879122) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:01PM (#15721991)
    A: August 2, 2004

    Sorry doom 3 was creepy as hell (bad pun) when i frirst started.. then again i did start at night with the lights off and hifi audio going - the random people screeming through the walls really got me
    • by AEther141 (585834) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:30PM (#15722145)
      No current games are disturbing in the "keep you up at night thinking, appear in pathologically terrifying nightmares, make you think twice about telling people about it" sense. They're scary and shock in the same way a slasher movie will, but ultimately they're shallow in the same way, lacking in depth and development. Nothing 'horrific' in that sense happens in films like Donnie Darko, Jacob's Ladder, Requiem for a Dream or Silkwood, but they're far more emotionally disturbing than, say, Doom or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. They express a deep, complex and gut-wrenching fear of the real and utterly tragic rather than simplistic caricatures of brutal violence. No game has ever made me rethink my attitudes to nuclear energy, phone up an old friend just to see if they're still alive or toss and turn for days.
      • by choprboy (155926) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:29PM (#15722423) Homepage
        No current games are disturbing in the "keep you up at night thinking, appear in pathologically terrifying nightmares, make you think twice about telling people about it" sense.

        I'd have to disagree with that. While I'd agree with you that Doom3/etc. had little "nightmare" factor and quickly became predictable, there is one game that kept me having flashbacks for some time. The game was called "The Suffering", by Surreal/Midway.

        Quick plot line: You have just been sentenced to death row for killing your wife and daughter in a crime you can not remember. Your first night in prison, all hell breaks loose, leaving you to fend for yourself and find a way off the prison island... The most effective scare-tatic of the game is that it combined lots of "flash-backs" of the horrific murder you supposedly commited, at RANDOM times, over your field of view. Could be in a slow game point when you have already cleared a room, or in the middle of a battle. Overlayed with the typical dark hallways, ominous sounds, and various "bad things waiting" of a typical game, it convincingly created an environment where you quite literally don't know what might happen next...

        • You want to enhance the 'scary factor' a bit? Ethanol++

          Mix up a few drinks (I recommend Crown & Coke for the youngin's, and a good single malt over ice for the mature audience) and get your blood alcohol content up around where it is no longer legal to drive. Turn out the lights in your game room, use headphones instead of speakers. Isolate yourself from reality (both physically and mentally) and let the alcohol help remove the suspension of disbelief - Doom III scared the shit out of me and I have b
      • Nothing 'horrific' in that sense happens in films like Donnie Darko, Jacob's Ladder, Requiem for a Dream or Silkwood, but they're far more emotionally disturbing than, say, Doom or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

        I always thought Donnie Darko was more very very sad than disturbing. And actually, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was pretty disturbing - not at all the gore-fest that most people think it is before seeing it.

        As far as an example of a truly disturbing movie, just one word...

        Eraserhead

    • Doom 3 is old hat and monsters jumping out of the closet horror been around forever. F.E.A.R., on the other hand, is a bit more scarier with the psychological horror of actually seeing things. Now that's disturbing.
      • My personal beef with F.E.A.R. was that it was scary during the opening sequence & the last 20-odd minutes of gameplay. In the middle, there were a few scares here and there, but for the most part the gameplay degraded to "run into room. get pwned. reload. run into room in slow motion. drool at pretty graphics. walk all over enemies. repeat."

        A game called "F.E.A.R." should have been scary the WHOLE way through.
    • by dubmun (891874) * on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:47PM (#15722232) Homepage Journal
      A: As soon as we all play the Silent Hill series.
    • My deeply scaring PC gaming experience was the old game Blood, where you were raised from the dead and spend the levels in (already creepy enough) funeral homes and crematoriums. Never really understood why that FPS wasn't has popular as some of the other ones of the time. Kicking heads of your dead enemies around in '97 definitely seems much more disturbing than GTA nowadays.
    • H.P. Lovecraft (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)
      Sorry doom 3 was creepy as hell (bad pun) when i frirst started.. then again i did start at night with the lights off and hifi audio going - the random people screeming through the walls really got me.

      If you want to understand the difference between elemental horror and the fun-house shocks of Doom there is no better place to begin than with H.P. Lovecraft: Tales [amazon.com], in The Library of America series.

      Lovecraft's best effects are achieved through suggestion.

      You never see anything clearly or fully but you are

      • The most disturbing game I've ever played was one that borrowed a lot of ideas from Lovecraft: the original Alone in the Dark. What made it so frightening to play was not so much the monsters or the sound effects, although both were far ahead of their time - it was the fact that I was playing it on a 25 MHz 386SX. Whenever I got into a serious fight the action would slow down to a crawl; it would take a full second to bring my shotgun to bear on the zombie an arm's length away from me, and another half seco
      • Re:H.P. Lovecraft (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Reziac (43301) *
        Some of the best DOOM maps utilize the same principle: you KNOW the monsters are there somewhere, and you might hear them, but you have no idea when, where, or how you'll be attacked.

        I recall one memorably scary map that starts off totally empty, and lets you explore the entire thing, poking and prodding equipment as you feel the urge... then when you've about decided everything is safe, or at least where some safe spots might be, bad things start happening. And it's set up so the monsters arrive randomly.
    • I think Doom 3 was a step in the right direction but fell short of what it could have accomplished (after the first hour or so, the lack of interaction with other NPCs was disappointing given how scary/cool it would've been to fight demons in close quarters with everyone screaming at each other to watch the friendly fire). I think games need to abandon a number ideas to truely create a game that'll 'disturb' gamers.

      1. Less 'personal space.' Face it, every good gamer knows how to use every little bit of spa

    • Two words: Chou Aniki [gamespy.com] (1992).
      Actually, practically anything that the Japanese do that crosses sexual themes with games makes me want to put my head under a pillow and cry myself to sleep.

      Also: Boong-Ga Boong-Ga. [wikipedia.org] Enjoy your new view of humanity.
  • F.E.A.R. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by preppypoof (943414) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:05PM (#15722015)
    F.E.A.R. is the only game I have ever played where I was literally scared to play any further...especially since i was playing during nighttime.
  • They don't now? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sc0ttyb (833038) * on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:05PM (#15722016)
    It would seem that the author's never played a Silent Hill game before. Or System Shock 2. Or Eternal Darkness.
    • by Drogo007 (923906) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:12PM (#15722056)
      And I don't think mass audience interactive entertainment (a.k.a. Video Games) will cross into truly disturbing Territory anytime soon. There's a difference between being a passive observer to something disturbing such as all the many movies already mention and being an active participant. And I think that the mental and emotional consequences of crossing that line are going to be too high for the majority of people to accept.

      Granted, there's games out there with downright creepy premise, but they don't tackle such socially disturbing topics as movies because movies don't require that you project yourself as an active participant. The mental and emotional toll required to do that would, I think, force 99%+ of people to abandon such a game only a few minutes in.
    • Seriously, you don't need amazing graphics powers to have disturbing subject matter.
    • Re:They don't now? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Finkbug (789750)
      System Shock 2, maybe. Silent Hill titles are silly. If we're talking morality as the source of the unease, instead of or in addition to mood, I'm back to Morrowind Fanboi. A grown-up game for grown-up players that also worked as a fun title for those not seeing or choosing to ignore the deeper currents. Much like Gene Wolfe's fantasy novels: many of them can be sucked down as generic Slurpees, and enjoyed at that level, but for those paying attention the implications are appalling.
    • by phorm (591458)
      Alien VS Predator was frickin' creepy. Especially the first one, which was ahead for its time
  • The first game that disturbed me in a good way was the original Doom... even low res, those weird textures that seemed to be based on skinned flesh was just creepy.

    The first game that disturbed me in a bad way was the first Duke Nukem, where if you shot the strippers, they turned into piles of money. That's just mysogonystic. Yes, in theory the strippers were taken over by aliens, but that's wasn't the primary reason strippers were shootable. Someone on the team just wanted to be able to shoot woman (and let's face it, if you listen to the guys at the top of 3D Realms, they strike me as men with serious psych issues with women).

    Even games like GTA didn't give me a sick feeling like that did. The violence in GTA is in the context of the world. The Duke Nukem thing felt like it was someone's sick fantasy that they thought was funny.

    • What would be strange if you could NOT shoot them.

      That'd have been funny, you'd shoot a RPG round and the stripper would continue standing there, as if nothing happened.

      If there's something that often has a really weird feeling in games, it's artificial obstacles. Invulnerable people, floor elevations even a 5 year old kid could climb but you can't, stuff that should be movable/breakable but resists nuclear explosions, etc.

      I'm still waiting for a FPS where you can blow up a door if you have good enough weap
      • I'm still waiting for a FPS where you can blow up a door if you have good enough weapons on you. It's completely illogical, you're loaded with explosives, rocket launchers and machine guns, and still can't get through a crappy wooden door by brute force!
        Check out Red Faction. You can't blast the doors - yet you can blast the walls around it! Pretty good game anyway.
    • Actually they don't turn into money when you shoot them. When you shoot them they disappear and the money they've been given flutters to the ground. There's nothing disturbing or mysogynistic about that.

      I'm not remotely mysogynistic but I played DN3D without even giving that a second thought. I suppose if you look for offensive things you'll find them eventually.
  • by Astarica (986098) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:11PM (#15722051)
    Is disturbing being in a dark place and have zombies jump down? Is Final Fantasy X disturbing where you're fighting in a world that is trapped in an eternal spiral toward doom? Is it disturbing that in Terranimga for the SNES, everything you do that you thought was supposed to help humanity only accelerated their destruction? I, for one, was pretty bothered by the intro where the earth's history is presented like a clock, and then the clock ticks to the 13th hour and falls apart. And yet both games are probably the story-book example of how hope springs eternal even in the darkest of hours.

    The mood of a game is a result of its story-telling. If the underlying story isn't disturbing, putting more special effects isn't going to change anything, either. But if we assume there are books that can be disturbing to read, then certainly any game has at least as much access to present information as well as a book, so of course they can be, too.

  • Yep. I meaa, tell me that scary little acid-rabbit thing that answers your mail for you isn't disturbing...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Takeshi's Challenge" [wikipedia.org], the 1986 NES game by Takeshi 'Beat' Kitano (who later went on to create the tv show we know as MXC). The game begins with a screen saying "This game is made by a man who hates videogames" and is designed to make the player as miserable as possible. The game includes such gems as a sequence where the player is forced to continuously sing karaoke for one hour without pressing any buttons; a gap which appears to be jumpable but is exactly one pixel too short to jump across, forcing the p
    • That's hilarious. It reminds me of the Penn & Teller game for Sega CD that has an 8 hour real-time drive through the desert down a straight road that has one turn in it so you can't just put a book on your controller and leave it for the 8 hours.
  • November 30, 1996 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LDoggg_ (659725) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:16PM (#15722073) Homepage
    The original Diablo in all its 640x480 glory.
    Maybe it was the soft string instruments in the background.

    The intro movie was pretty good too.
    • Re:November 30, 1996 (Score:3, Informative)

      by Amouth (879122)
      seach the web .. you should see the video for the butcher that was cut out of the game but is still in the mpq.. it is an sfx file i think.. you can find it in the mpq tree..

      now that video was more disturbing than all the others..
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:18PM (#15722077)
    Graphics are great these days, but gore doesn't disturb. I can watch the six o'clock news and get more gore than in the most violent zombie flicks written.

    Storyline is what disturbs. Let's get back to telling real stories.

    Such as Infocom's Trinity [csd.uwo.ca] (about time travel and nuclear war), and A Mind Forever Voyaging [csd.uwo.ca]: Starts off with the mildly disturbing premise of what it's like to be a "brain in a vat, experiencing a computer simulation". Continues with the extremely disturbing unfolding of what happens when (because reality's just a computer simulation), the simulation extrapolates social/political consequences of what happens when one plugs in a certain Senator's "plan" to save the economy... and what happens to the brain in the vat when it starts to learn things about the "plan" that the dear Senator might not like.

    AMFV was probably the most disturbing interactive fiction title that Infocom ever released. (Because we're arguably still playing it - you and me reading this - today.)

    • by wrecked (681366) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:08PM (#15722347)
      Storyline is what disturbs. Let's get back to telling real stories.

      Amen to that. Most of the posts so far , and a couple of previous [slashdot.org] slashdot stories [slashdot.org] on this topic, seem to equate "disturbing" with "gore", and offer as examples of "disturbing" games stuff like Doom, Silent Hill, System Shock 2 etc. While these games are certainly on par with horror-genre type films (I loved System Shock 2, btw), they don't capture the same context of disturbing as the example of the game Manhunt in TFA (ie. having the gamer assume the dual roles of murderer and detective).

      A friend and I were having this same conversation last night, about films. A lot of people consider the Saw franchise scary, but for me, one of the most disturbing and suspenseful cinematic scenes recently was the scene in 2005's Crash where the little girl runs out to her father and apparently gets shot. I haven't seen City of God or Hotel Rwanda, which are films cited in the TFA, for the very reason that I think they would not be enjoyable viewing experiences.

      The main question posed in the TFA is: If a videogame is no longer fun, we tend to stop playing. How can you make a videogame not "fun" and still compel players to go on? The hurdle that the gaming industry needs to overcome is the profit motive; games that aren't fun to play are unlikely to be purchased. The film industry, on the other hand, has had decades of avant-garde and independent films to condition audiences for challenging fare.

      The parent poster here cited text adventure games as examples of the truly disturbing and challenging, and I heartily agree with that. I played Photopia [wikipedia.org], and that game left me pondering.

      Games will have caught up to films when the field will have its equivalents of film directors Peter Greenaway, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, and Atom Egoyan. There is one guy in gaming, John Tynes [johntynes.com], who is close. A couple of his pen-and-paper RPGs are downright nightmarish: Puppetland, and especially Powerkill. The games used to be available on Tyne's website, but don't seem to be there anymore, so here is a review [rpg.net].
      • I guess it really depends on what a person considers disturbing. For me, death of the mind is a more horrible fate than death of the body, and thus I like games that mess with your head. Gore most certainly isn't all I equate disturbing to be, but given the proper context it can be. The Silent Hill series is a very good example of this, using both the mindfuck aspect and the gore aspect to maybe not really scare you in the traditional sense, but it really, really keeps you unnerved. Don't get me wrong:
    • Hey! I was going to post about A Mind Forever Voyaging but then I figured that nobody else would even have heard of it. So I was surprised to see your comment.

      I think people should play this game today - it's astonishing just how prescient the game was with it's emphasis on notions like asymmetric warfare. And playing it 20 years later it acquires a new kind of self-referentiality that wasn't there when it was originally published.

      As far as I know, there hasn't been another game anything like it. I wond


    • An IF game based on John Hersey's Hiroshima would probably be mighty disturbing.

      I'm not sure a graphical game would be up to it. The player would probably become inured to the visuals pretty quickly, assuming the visuals
      didn't start out in uncanny valley and hokey hollow.
    • I think it's not the graphics, it's the sound. Today, sound can be reproduced to 99% of real life quality, in surround. Hearing the clanging of metal when you walk on a catwalk and then screams behind the walls can seriously freak someone out. And not only realistic sounds, music has a very strong effect on the player, at least on me. Fact is, the original Doom soundtrack is great and every time I hear it, I get chills. Doom3 had little if at all music during the gameplay, it made it feel bland. While in co
  • by CherniyVolk (513591) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:18PM (#15722078)

    I'm a player of EVE-ONLINE. It didn't take long for the PvP aspects to have real effect. (Consequently, they have much less effect now; perhaps an end all be all definition of pirate depending on why?) Early, my heart beat would raise, adrenaline rush and all of a sudden I would get a real feeling of fight or flight mentality whenever a 'flasher' would warp in. That "oh shit" feeling, that even if kept silent is obvious to any onlookers. The effect is so strong, from myriad accounts not just my own, that I have often pondered if CCP will eventually have some sort of medical warning to those with heart conditions while starting to play the game. Not only does the game genuinely enduce physical and emotional characteristics of imminent hostile danger, but if you get to see your opponent pop you get a genuine sense of gain or power, if you die, you have a genuine sense of loss.

    From these effects, they enduce real emotion as well. For example, hate mail or something within EVE known as 'smack talk', there has even been situations where the sentiment has been extended into real life threats and harrassment. Usually, becuase someone was attacked and killed by another pilot, but as involved as the game is, there are many ways to 'screw' over another player; such as undercutting their business stealing their customers or sabotaging political ties with alliances/corporations for your interest, or internal disloyalty and corp theft/betrayal.

    This is all on account of game structure and mechanics. And, if this much can be enduced simply by interactive 'situational' analysis, then any other game could be developed to target a particular effect just by building up all the variables to justify the reaction whenever something happens. One of the chief causes for the seriousness of EVE, is that you do encur real loss and actual gain. If you die, you lose what you had and have to work towards acquiring it again, if you win, you may loot your victims wreckage for items valuable to you (that, and you get the killmail to further insult them by posting it on public forums.)
    • Permadeath or near permadeath surely makes you concentrate much more on your situation.
      It certainly makes the game less accessible, but those who want a good experience can get it and create epic stories.
      Another poster once written about an idea where there's near permadeath (as in stats are reset, items are partly inherited). Normal players would rather stay in the safe town and socialize / advance their non-fighting skills and only the brave would go outside and really fight the epic battles and increase
      • I don't know how permadeath is handled [in EVE].
        If your ship blows up, you fly around in a little defenseless pod until you can get another ship. If your pod blows up you revert to your clone at your designated home base. If you have a lot of skills but a low-grade clone, you will lose some skills. I never played very long but from what I've seen, pod-killing is very looked down upon.
  • by Avatar8 (748465) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:26PM (#15722124)
    /shudder


    Whenever I think that EA games could eventually buyout and control ALL game development....


    NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

    /catches breath


    Man, that is truly disturbing.

  • Sometime in 1993 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gaewyn L Knight (16566) <vaewyn@wwwrog[ ]com ['ue.' in gap]> on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:27PM (#15722126) Homepage Journal
    I remember the first time I played through the Seventh Guest... and then not long later Phantasmagoria.

    I dare you to find anyone that played those late at night that wasn't at least a little scared. The environment on those two games... especially with the sound was just creepy.

    Even some of the Myst ones had some creepy moments in them. Not near those other two though.
  • XCOM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Clover_Kicker (20761) <clover_kicker@yahoo.com> on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:28PM (#15722136)
    The first XCOM had some creepy bits. I remember the first time I found an "examination room" in a UFO.

    The general ambience was just plain spooky, especially the night terror missions.
  • If you haven't played Star Control 2, (now available for PC as The Ur-Quan Masters [sourceforge.net]), you ought to check it out. The action gameplay is every bit as fun as in SC1, but there's an incredible plot this time around.

    As you work through the game, meeting new alien species and trying to free Earth from its enslavement, you meet the two subspecies of Ur-Quan, locked in eternal war. The Kzer-Za want merely to dominate all species in the galaxy. The Kohr-Ah, on the other hand, will stop at nothing short of total exte
    • I found the transdimensional Orz [wikipedia.org] to be much more disturbing. I remember having it dawn on me that there was something much more sinister about these beings after they made some strange comment. I couldn't quite place it as a lot of what they said made no sense, and you could never be quite sure if it wasn't just a miscommunication, but it sure sent shivers down my spine. I absolutely didn't want to *jump in front*, which would probably have led to *dancing*.
  • ... but I bet it's been more than 5 years since I started not playing certain games because the title was just "too much".

    Demographics: 35 year old male, married, 3 kids. Gamer since Atari 2600 and Asteroids, played most every FPS starting with Wolfenstien (downloaded from a BBS at 2400 baud) and currently (still) playing Call of Duty, so I don't mind killing virual bad guys, even realistic ones. I like Fakey horror films (Sean of the Dead), Monster horror films (Alien), but not Freaky horror films (Saw
  • "Will Wii games disturb us". Wiierd.
  • That game disturbed the heck out of me. Specially after I had to kill Cybil. I felt like sh*t afterwards. That night I had a nightmare. Equally disturbing was when I played SH2 and I realized that James had murdered Mary.

    This isn't like GTA because you really get to empathize with the characters and get into their minds. And then, wham! You're a murderer.

    Those games are really screwed up. If you want my advice, don't play them and go to sleep afterwards.
  • It already did... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BTWR (540147) <americangibor3 @ y ahoo.com> on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:47PM (#15722229) Homepage Journal
    When I played the Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Omaha Beach level (aka "D-Day"), it was the first of it's kind (before 8 zillion clones), and it was simply... disturbing. It was produced by Steven Spielberg and was definately in the tradition of Saving Private Ryna. I was 22 at the time, so I thought first off that every boy there was my age. I'd die immediately when the boats opened the first 10 times or so. I died tons more on the way up. You'd look over and see other soldiers, grown men and ppl your age kneeling under a bunker and crying. Others mortally injured and screaming for mommy simply made the game "How would you have done if you were at this event in history" (answer: I would have *died*) rather than "Enjoy this video game level."
    • When I played the Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Omaha Beach level (aka "D-Day"), it was the first of it's kind (before 8 zillion clones), and it was simply... disturbing.

      Same.

      I can't say that I genuinely enjoyed it either, but I feel like I grew somehow for having played it. I don't think anyone could pull off a whole video game like that, but they might be able to sneak in pieces of it like in MoH:AA.
  • One idea (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mgabrys_sf (951552)
    I had for sometime was a game based loosely on the old RPG (boardgame) Orgre. The thing that was appealing was that you were being hunted relentlessly by a (virtually) unstoppable (technological) force. I always thought if you removed the "virtually", you could really have something.

    I've yet to see a game that presents an undefeatable boss. The idea being how long you survive IS the game. The environment could be anything but you could slowly ramp up the pace and create traps that would confound the player
    • I've yet to see a game that presents an undefeatable boss. The idea being how long you survive IS the game.
      Most games for old consoles like the Atari 2600 have no end, they just keep getting harder.
    • I think that concept could work if done correctly. The problem is, is that the computer could only be so good without making it impossible to delay them forever. It's like tetris. I think that it stops getting any faster after level 9 or 10. I've personally gotten to level 14, and I know people who says it stops counting levels at 20. But you can keep playing forever. Eventually you end up doing something wrong, or getting bad luck with the pieces, and you lose. But the whole fun is trying to beat yo
    • Most of the time, Nethack does a pretty good job of this. There's also Ikaruga, at least as far as I can tell, though I hear it is actually possible to make it through three levels without getting killed.
  • by startled (144833) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:57PM (#15722294)
    Games have been disturbing us since 1982 [wikipedia.org].
  • Quake 4 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tjwhaynes (114792) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:57PM (#15722295)
    Quake 4 has to be one of the most disturbing FPS's I've played. The whole idea of the Strogg taking their enemies, "enhancing" them biomechanically and then wiping their minds and making them into willing Strogg fighters is pretty nasty. That was present in Quake 2 too but it's much more in-your-face in Quake 4. Especially when you get captured and get to see "stroggification" from a first person perspective. I still wince when that rotating saw blade drops in...

    And it doesn't stop there. The various body parts acting as part of the machinery are everywhere, complete with vaguely humanoid pumping noises. Some of the bodies are missing most of their limbs, others are fairly complete but are attached in cruciform positions and writhing in response to various stimuli.

    And Quake 4 is not the only one out there in that genre. System Shock 2 (especially with the enhanced graphics mods) gets right inside your psyche and keeps hitting. To say that there are no disturbing games out there either indicates that the reviewer hasn't played many games or is remarkably blind to the horrors around.

    Cheers,
    Toby Haynes

  • Sanitarium (Score:4, Insightful)

    by easychord (671421) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:02PM (#15722320)
    I found the game Sanitarium fairly disturbing at some points. Incase anyone missed it, it was a point and click adventure where the player assumes the role of a mental patient. You drift between fantasy and reality and try to sort out your memories, and save the world or something. I forget.

    It's disturbing not because it tries to shock you with weird stuff, which it certainly tries to do and doesn't do that well. It's disturbing because as you play through the fantasy worlds you get the impression that something very wrong is going on in the real world that you are powerless to stop.

    The answer to how to keep players playing disturbing games is so simple that it's sort of depressing that people get mystified and ask if it is even possible in games. Give the game a compelling story, what they are going through now may be disturbing but maybe the characters and scenario will develop. You could also, like, make the game fun to play. Worth a try.
  • ... when killing off people in Knighs of the Old Republic when you decide to play dark side, I think tha qualfies pretty much. I had really hard time playing nasty at first. I felt bad for the lives I was ruining, even though they are artificial lives.
    • If that's how you felt, then you didn't get into the character enough. Being on the dark side doesn't mean having the cool dark side skills, it's about being dark/evil and the appropriate skills just seem to follow. :)

      Well it's quite hard playing as dark side when the game plot drives you against the dark side..... (at least in Jedi Knight)
      • about being dark/evil and the appropriate skills just seem to follow

        Maybe I wasn't clear enough, but that's exactly how I felt. Using my powers to trick two families into killing each other, slaughtering my whole crew, killing people coming for my help. That's pretty much playing in character. That was really hard at first. As good as I felt when I helped people on my first way through the game, I had that feeling that I didn't like that character on screen when I was playing my secnd time through as an evi
    • I had really hard time playing nasty at first.

      And now that you're beyond your first time, how easy will it be when you are called upon to be psychotic in real life?

      Careful which direction you allow your neurons to fire in. The pathways in your brain grow wider and more permanent with use. --And they don't differentiate between virtual and real. That's why computer simulators are used by flight schools and the military. They work.


      -FL

      • Don't be too righteous here. I mean, how many poeple roleplayed in dungeon and dragons, vampire or medieval outdoors activities?

        Fact is, I understand that the actions I am doing in game are bad. I'd be more concerned about the millions who play GTA where bad behaviour is encouraged, while a game like KOTOR clearly shows the drawback of your evil actions (even tough you do end up ruling the galaxy in the end :p). But when playing a game, I always enjoy more the good guy role than the bad guy role. Oblivion i
  • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:47PM (#15722513)
    Hey guys! Yeah you, the ones with mod points. Why are you modding up all these posts about being scared or "creeped out" by a video game? That's not disturbing, anymore than riding a roller-coaster is disturbing.

    Storylines that pull back the fascia of society to reveal ugly truths about the nature of man are disturbing. Hotel Rwanda is disturbing. A love story like Oasis [imdb.com] where one social outcast rapes another and yet the two are able to develop a relationship that is 100x more healthy than the "normal" society around them is disturbing (just read the comment from the woman who naively rented the movie for valentines day).

    The point of the articles is that movies like those are the level of story-telling to which video games should be striving. What the article doesn't really discuss is just how to motivate someone to continue interacting with a game when the story hits them with such a huge emotional wallop. When it happens in a movie, the audience can just sit there, stunned into immobility (and often tears) and let the experience flow over them. But that's not what games are about. Perhaps it is just not possible for a game to evoke the kind of strong, personally felt, emotions that a movie or book can. Or perhaps the genius who will figure out a way just hasn't been born yet.
    • Just be thankful that nobody made the Rez trance vibrator reference and was modded +5.

      You say that people only stay in movies after being disturbed because they are stunned. I acutally walked out of a movie once after being disturbed, but that might just be because I'm weird. Once something hooks you emotionally at that level you are more likely to want to find out more about it, I walked back into that movie then bought it on dvd. I've certainly read disturbing books that I haven't given up on.
    • Fuck, and I just used all my mod points. Seriously, one person even posted that FF7 was disturbing. Are you fucking kidding me? You are one sorry son of a bitch if you were disturbed by that game.
  • Did the submitter really mean that Donnie Darko makes you uncomfortable? I think it's one of the most touching movies I've ever seen.
  • by Wind_Walker (83965) on Friday July 14, 2006 @09:45PM (#15722938) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure it's "disturbing" in the way that, say, A Clockwork Orange was, but Eternal Darkness for the Gamecube was a very freaky experience for me.

    For those who aren't familiar (shame on you) the game used so-called "Insanity Effects" which were basically designed to make your character think they were going crazy - except they also applied to you. You would walk into a room and be immediately decapitated. Then the screen would flash, your character would scream a bit, and you could continue playing the game. Other effects included rooms appearing completely upside-down, invincible monsters, and ever-present whispering that really freaked me out the first time I heard some of them.

    ED was fantastic at really working the psyche and trying to make a real "Horror" game that didn't involve things randomly jumping through windows at you [penny-arcade.com].
  • ...makes me feel funny.

  • I'm suprised no one mentioned this series.

    first time I played it I was using a stereo to play it so every sound was amplified, I still remember seeing one of the ghosts and went to pull up the camera only to have it staring me right in the face when I did. That scared the shit out of me cause it was right there.

    The other time was near the end of the game where there was a ghost you could faighntly hear saying "My eyes" well when you went down into this pit she was suddenly RIGHT behind you and screami
  • Stop reading if you havent't seen Terminator 2 or played Half Life: spoilers ahead.

    UK movie critic Jim McClellan wrote about his wife watching Terminator 2 without having seen any trailer or advance warning. She thought Arine was still the baddie, and saw the scene at the mall (with the flowers and the shotgun and the second Terminator) the way it had been scripted: as a surprise, and as a revealing of a key plot element: namely that Arnie was this time a good "guy".

    I experienced the same surprise in Half L
  • As with so many other posters, I feel it is dependent on the player what they find disturbing versus scary.

    Example: Alone in the Dark 1/2 and the original Resident Evil had (for me) some scary moments. Silent Hill 2 (which I never finished) and System Shock 2 disturbed me.

    Scare as in horror is fleeting. Sure, you'll remember the dogs leaping suddenly from the windows in RE1, but it was a brief fleeting moment. Where as the whole premise and executition of Silent Hill 2 was just disturbing. The idea and it's

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