Why is Horror so Popular?

Over the past few years i’ve noticed a real change in the trends surrounding horror movies, and gaming. Now, whether that’s down to us being desensitised as a mass and needing more intense experiences to invoke a reaction, or simply the horror community having more light shed on it via new creations, directors, releases, more platforms or even more Youtube videos, we will never know. It’s no secret that Youtube has a huge online gaming community, and a huge portion of this community is dedicated to horror and thriller themed games. Classics remakes like Resident evil, psychological thrillers like Alan Wake and recent additions like Fran Bow are all part of a new wave of gaming to hit our screens.

As a genre, horror is something that many of our human natures are naturally going to be drawn towards. The frights, the thrills and the adrenaline are all a pivotal part of the experience.

Here at MisplacedPixels we asked Dominik Mayr, Owner and Webmaster over at Rely on Horror a few questions on the subject. Rely on Horror is a survival horror magazine ‘covering the major horror games of our time’.

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Interviewer: Why do you think horror games are so popular?

Dominik : They are indeed pretty popular these days and that’s thanks to the indie scene mostly. From 2013 on we got loads of highly successful survival (horror) games on Steam Early Access.

The bigger studios realized this and started to work on their own brands like Evil Within or Silent Hills (which sadly got cancelled later on) lately. Also Capcom slowly began to realize that their Resident Evil fans want horror in their games. Remasters of Remake and Resident Evil Zero and recently announced: Resident Evil 2 Remake indicate a “back to the roots” philosophy so many fans were craving for. I think the hunger for good, inspiring horror has always been there. This is where the independent studios came into play. They gave an answer to all the sceptics. Something similar is happening in the Science Fiction genre right now and i hope the real time strategy genre soon too.

What elements are important for a really successful horror movie/game?

Dominik : To keep it short: Audio, Scarce resources/ammo/health items, Visuals, a story driven narrative, game with a soul, developers with a feel of what defines horror.

Jump scares vs psychological warfare – which works better and why?

Dominik : My first horror games were Resident Evil and then Silent Hill. RE is jumps scares, SH is psychological horror.

So i really like both. Many people have preferences regarding this, but i think you can’t determine which one “works better”.

So for me it’s definitely both.

As a genre are horror games becoming more popular?

Dominik : I think so yes, but that will change again. If you pay close attention to all horror related releases the market is almost saturated. Then again, horror is really popular these days.

Why do you think people like to watch other people play?

Dominik : You’re asking the wrong person here. It’s something that’s beyond me. I do understand that it’s sometimes cool to watch others play, real life or via a stream. Apparently many people enjoy this otherwise these Let’s Players wouldn’t be so big in business. Maybe i am oldskool, but i want to play games myself or i read about them.

What common errors do you see developers make time and time again?

Dominik : Personally, i hate QTE’s. So that’s the error they make for me.

Is there one game that springs to mind as being classic or the first of it’s kind?

Dominik : Amnesia: The Dark Descent was very special when it came out. Its also a game that had a big impact on upcoming indie horror.

And back in the day, of course the first Resident Evil and first Silent Hill.

Are there any games or movies coming out in 2016 that you’re particularly excited for? 

Dominik :I like old skool Resident Evil so i am looking forward to the remastered version of Resident Evil Zero. I also expect news and imagery from the remake of Resident Evil 2, but probably no release in 2016. Same goes for my favourite game of all time, Outcast, not horror related but i’d die for the remake to finally get funded.

Are there any up and coming gaming developers that we should be keeping an eye out for?

Dominik : There are heaps of talented big and small groups of developers out there, so its almost impossible to pick just a few.

In terms of true horror, Frictional Games (Amnesia, SOMA), Red Barrels (Outlast 1+2), The Chinese Room (Dear Esther, Everybody’s gone to the Rapture).

Also the studio formerly known for the strategy series Total War, Creative Assembly has proofen to have a good feeling for horror (Alien: Isolation)

Personally, i am a big fan of The Forest, in development by Endnight Games. So.. to name a few. I could go on and on from here.

Do any recommendation spring to mind, if i were to ask you what my readers should play?

Dominik : Actually, all that’s listed above. Speaking of our team over at Rely on Horror, these are the nominees for our annual Game of the Year Award this year:

SOMA, Until Dawn, Bloodborne, Resident Evil HD Remaster, Resident Evil Revelations 2. I’d say all of them can be highly recommended.

From 2014 we’d have Outlast, The Evil Within and Alien: Isolation.

Going back even further, these are some all-time classics in my opinion: Resident Evil Original/Remake, Resident Evil 2, Silent Hill 1+2,

Update: Did you enjoy this article?  

Then why not check out our interview with the developers over at KillMonday.

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11 thoughts on “Why is Horror so Popular?

  1. stacey says:

    Your style is very unique in comparison to other folks I have read
    stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity.

  2. Angie says:

    Hey great interview, I came here from a related link n the Fran Bow article. Never played the forrest before but it looks great, might have to give it a try! ?

  3. Britt says:

    Great blog, i really like the layout! It’s quite new, can’t watit to see what its like once youve been running for a few months!

  4. Russ says:

    Oh man, i LOVED Alan Wake. It was pretty difficult though… i don’t mean to be rude but… have you(the chick that writes for the site) ever played anoy of these games. Because girls dont tend to be good at horror stuff.

  5. Mason says:

    Resident evil, man. What a great game – I grew up on it, and still play it now. EVen managed to get my sister into it a few years back!

  6. Kieron says:

    I watch loads of YouTubers play online, it gives a good representation of the game. then if it’s shite, i’ve not wasted $60 on something i’m not gonna enjoy.

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