Each of our contributors put together a list of their top five horror titles several years ago, judging them by their ability to scare, repel, and otherwise provoke. Our lists are surprisingly eclectic and may at times challenge what constitutes horror in games altogether. So, join us for a discussion of slashers, things that cannot be named, and other things that go bump in the night.
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When people describe a story as Lovecraftian, they’re often referring to one specific theme that permeated his work: the theme of forbidden knowledge. A Lovecraftian story usually involves a character learning some secret truth that is too horrible to fully comprehend and is driven to some awful fate by the knowledge. Learning the truth is horrible, but being ignorant of the truth is equally horrible. There’s no escaping the horrors of the world.
It’s a powerful theme, but also a pretty wide-ranging theme. Most Lovecraftian stories take this idea at face value, wringing horror out of things that are supposedly unimaginable—fear of the unknown taken to the extreme. But there are more ideas to mine from this theme than the concept of confronting “unimaginable horrors.”
The board game Posthuman offers its players two potential win-states, the first, a fairly common one, the victory of the individual, the second, an extremely unusual one in a competitive game, a communal victory. This is a really strange tension in a competitive game, and one that seems at odds with our expectations about the principles of competition. Essentially, Posthuman suggests that if a player can’t win, then they can damn well make sure that everyone wins.
This idea seems at odds with competitive play, perhaps even more so, since more often than not when folks do compete knowing that they can’t win, then it’s our expectation, perhaps, that they will choose a scorched earth strategy: if I can’t win, then no one should win. In both instances, the ideas that a single player should win a game or that “if you can’t win, then no one should win” both seem like ones that lean heavily on the central importance of individualism to the competitive experience.
At the League of Legends World Championship group stages event in San Francisco last weekend, I worried a staff member with my sign. On a white board in bright pink and red marker, I had written the phrase “WAKE UP EU!” The person managing the sign-desk asked if “EU” stood for “European Union”, which it did—in a sense. “There are no political signs allowed,” she told me.
Of course it wasn’t a politically charged message, even though I love the idea of using a competitive eSports event as a venue for sending out a hilarious vague treatise on Brexit. It was meant, instead, as a rallying cry for the European teams competing in the event. The three teams from the region (H2K, G2, and Splyce) have lost seven of their eight collective games so far. Worlds matches have nothing to do with politics… mostly. Well, at least not explicitly.
Love it or hate it, No Man’s Sky was one of the most anticipated game releases of the year.
This week, Nick Dinicola and Erik Kersting consider the possible successes and perceived failures of No Man’s Sky.
// Short Ends and Leader
"The best of this stuff'll kill you.READ the article