Tyll Zybura

Sinngetriebener Mensch

Playing with Fear: Analyzing Horror in Video Games

Tyll Zybura, 06.02.2018

Summer 2018.

This seminar is a student initiative taught by Florian Kelle and Laurenz Junker in cooperation with Mahshid Mayar and me.

! Course commentary

Video games are a unique medium which employs narrative techniques we are used to from other media, such as a film and novels. Despite these parallels, games are fundamentally different in how they convey and evoke emotions. What makes games so unique is their specific mediality: Games are interactive. Instead of mere passive reception, we engage in acts of play. In doing so, we interact with a medium which, in turn, affects us in a most enthralling manner. In this context, horror games are an incredibly engaging genre. Terror and horror are experienced with an immediacy that other mediums simply cannot convey; we play with our fears.

In this seminar, students will be introduced to theories of play, game studies and the genre of horror. We will build an analytical framework and apply it to horror games. The seminar will focus on the special mediality of games, namely interactivity, player reception, and reaction. Along those lines, we will discuss the means and merits of conveying and experiencing horror. The seminar sessions will be complemented by (voluntary) gaming nights to expose students to a larger body of games, as a means of broadening scope and fostering the notion of playing in company.

Students will be required to acquire and play the following games:

  • Emily Wants to Play

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent

  • SCP Containment Breach

  • Additional games might be added. In that case, we will try to find free ones.

Student suggestions for other games (within a reasonable budget) are encouraged! We try to cater especially to PC versions. Should you have the game on other systems, that is acceptable, too.


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