The release of the video game Resident Evil 7: Biohazard represents a greater renewed interest in horror media. While horror films are the best return on investment in Hollywood, horror video games have also seen a resurgence in more recent years. The popularity of this gaming genre is explored by sociologist Margee Kerr, as she explains to The Observer:
“If we were really running for our life, we’re not thinking critically … It’s really the ability to know that we’re safe while we’re doing this, we can enjoy these reactions. It feels invigorating — like we’re primal. Like we’re in that animal state again. A good scary game can hit that sweet spot where the stress is advantageous to gameplay. We hyperfocus on the game. It can be really rewarding.”
In other words, we like to be scared in horror games; and more importantly, we like to be scared with others. One of the most popular ways of consuming horror games is with other people, and this is often achieved by watching Let’s Play videos on YouTube. The idea behind these videos is that you’re watching a content creator’s gameplay as they played it — often accompanied with a recording of their face for all of their reactions. It essentially allows people to experience these horror games with other people, regardless of their access to gaming consoles or other players. This fulfills an important aspect of horror games — getting through struggles. As Kerr explains:
“The goal-directed behavior and having a common goal — we bond closely with others when we’re in stressful situations … We feel more united with people we go through tough times with. I’ve heard from a lot of people that playing a game with someone opens them up. They do end up talking to their friends on a deeper level.”
So next time you pop that disc into your game system, go ahead and invite some people over — you might get more out of it if you share your scare with friends.