Haunted Spaces, Lived-In Places

A Narrative Archaeology of Gone Home

As you explore this deceptively massive house, going from room to room and unlocking secret passageways that lead to even more rooms (a gatekeeping mechanism used to establish some sense of narrative linearity), you discover the personal domains of each of the family members and get to know their secrets, worries, pleasures, and vices. You stumble upon Dad’s stash of porno magazines, liquor bottles, and rejection letters from book publishers. You find out about Mom’s budding flirtation with a park ranger. You uncover a history of abuse perpetrated by your Great Uncle Oscar who died in this very house, leading Sam’s classmates to call it “the psycho house on Arbor Hill” and convincing her that the house is haunted. Continue Reading

Among the Sleep

Indie Horror and Tropes for Fear

It would be safe to assume that I qualify as a horror fanatic. I’ve played a large quantity of games in this genre including: Quake, Doom, F.E.A.R., Penumbra: Overture, Bioshock, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, The Last of Us, Cry of Fear, Nanashi no Game, Dead Space, SCP – Containment Breach, Slender: The Arrival and Slender: The Eight Pages, Clock Tower: The First Fear, Resident Evil, System Shock, and a slew of others (many that I’ve watched but am not brave enough to play). These games share many common elements that solidify their position in the genre such as dim lighting, monsters, disorientation, analogue disruptions, and a thematic narrative wherein the player/avatar is subsumed within a labyrinth of horror that they must navigate through in order to resolve the anxiety and unease of both their environment and the stories they occupy. I think that the most enjoyable of these games combines engaging storylines within an environment that has more monsters and evasion as opposed to jump-scares and continuously present monsters. As time has gone on, however, I’ve noticed that similarities that draw the horror genre games together have become really monotonous. Continue Reading