This post is part of the Designing Horror series.
Game: imscared by Ivan Zanotti
I’ve learned a few things about horror games while doing the Designing Horror series. I’ve learned that there are about five different tricks used to generate horror in games, particularly indie horror games. Consequently, that means that this is my last Designing Horror post for a while. I was planning on just letting it drop for a month or so in silence, but I’m coming back to make this proper post because imscared is super fucking cool.
1. How Does It Work?
imscared is a horror game where you navigate a 3D world and run away from White Face, a great big floating head ghost thing. It follows you around. It makes noise. All of this is standard horror tropeyism.
The brilliant part about imscared is that it depends on communicating to the player through text and image files that propagate in the game folder on the player’s PC. It is a game that realizes that it is a game–to rip off W.J.T. Mitchell, it is a “metagame.” It knows you are playing it; it wants to make you more scared. The use of the additional objects in the game get us to a brilliant moment–the game itself realizes the limits of the subjective horror experience and attempts to reign in the excess possible horror and weaponize it for use against the player.
2. Why Is It Horror?
It grabs onto you and it won’t let go.
3. What Did It Do To Me?
It made me write another one of these.