Horror vs. Thriller: The Ability To Choose

By: Nicole Kulick

Today in class we talked a bit about the distinction between horrors and thrillers. As Stephen King appears to have described thisdifference, he has explained that when it comes to horror, there is an element of choice involved. On the contrary, in a thriller, that sense of any level of power or control is taken away. In a gaming context, it is virtually impossible to create a thriller game. That iswhy we only hear about horror games.

One particular game I started thinking about was Outlast, which is a horror game I’m sure many people are familiar with. I have mainly just watched gameplay. You play as an investigative journalist that sneaks around a psychiatric hospital with a video camera, and your main goal is to survive. There is a lot of running and hiding involved. This game of course classifies as a horror game, as although the game is guiding you towards a certain fate, you have the power over keeping your player alive. You choosethe hiding-spots. You run from the bad guys, successfully or unsuccessfully. You hunt for items you will need, and read letters. You are guiding your player along the given path, and it is up to you how many tries it will take to pass the challenges. In a way,having this level of control in a scarier scenario is both daunting and comforting. The outcome is in your hands in a lot of ways,and I think that since horror games raise the stakes a lot higher in a lot of ways, it makes us feel overwhelmingly responsible for what happens. I had never thought about the difference between horror and thrillers as a genre until now, but I thought it wasincredibly interesting, and it had me thinking a lot more about the allure of horror games and why so many of us are drawn to them.


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