“Fear the Old Blood”: The Gothicism of Bloodborne

Mukherjee Hiranya
2022 DiGRA ’22 – Proceedings of the 2022 DiGRA International Conference: Bringing Worlds Together

Gothic studies and Game studies are beginning to be explored in connection with each other to find various configurations of Gothic elements in the cybertext of games. In this article, I explore various Gothic elements in Bloodborne (From Software, 2015). My methodology incorporates the analysis of the manifestation of Gothicism in the game through the interplay between the figure of the player character, mise-en-scène, and the presence of psychologically affective states pertaining to the experience of playing the game. The role and aspects of player participation, performativity, and in-game mechanics are also examined with respect to the particular function they serve in the realization of the Gothic experience. The presence of Gothic and Lovecraftian tropes, symbolism, and elements of horror within the narrative are also explored.


Unfamiliar Feminine Spaces in Gone Home’s Environmental Storytelling

Bednorz Magdalena
2020 DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere

Spatiality of digital environments, including video games, is not only one of the defining aspects of the medium (Murray 2001), but also an aspect through which medium-specific types of narratives can be communicated to the audience. It allows for environmental (or diegetic) storytelling – a narrative method in which the story originates from exploration (Carson 2000; Peirce 2007; Smith and Worch 2010), in which the player traverses the game space and discovers pieces of information in the form of artifacts and elements of the environment. Among the games which broadly employ this type of storytelling is The Fullbright Company’s first-person adventure exploration game Gone Home (2013). In the game, the player assumes the role of Katie, who returns home after a year abroad only to find her family house deserted. By spatial exploration focused mainly on searching the house, the player, through Katie, can solve the mystery and discover the story of coming of age, discovering one’s sexuality, and coping with the aftermath. Doing so requires interacting with objects placed within the house—they seem to work as a conduit of the narrative, not only informing of the recent events by themselves (e.g. notes, pictures), but also occasionally triggering additional audio-narration.


Paralysing Fear: Player Agency Parameters in Horror Games

Boonen Casper S. Mieritz Daniel
2018 DiGRA Nordic '18: Proceedings of 2018 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

The horror video game genre is dedicated to building suspense and scaring its players. One of the ways in which it achieves this goal is through the manipulation of the player’s agency. With this paper, we seek to examine and identify elements used to manipulate the agency of the player in horror video games, to see how they can be used to evoke horror and dread within the player. To this purpose, a qualitative humanistic approach has been applied, through the analysis of six horror games. Our results indicate several common themes, found in the elements used to manipulate player agency. Based on these themes, we have developed an Agency Parameter Model, illustrating a hierarchical relationship between different categories used to manipulate agency. At the core of the model are three overarching categories: Player Character Parameters, System Parameters, and Player Parameters.


Glitch Horror: BEN Drowned and the Fallibility of Technology in Game Fan Fiction

2017 DiGRA '17 - Proceedings of the 2017 DiGRA International Conference

This paper seeks to define a burgeoning genre of transmedia narratives — “glitch horror” — using a popular “creepypasta” (a work of online horror fiction) entitled BEN Drowned as a primary source. The horror of BEN Drowned is rooted in the rhetoric of glitches, those infuriating moments when the failures of technology interrupt gameplay and otherwise distort the world of a game. The emergence of the glitch horror genre and the popularity of narratives like BEN Drowned are manifestations of collective anxieties surrounding the fallibility and restrictions of digital technology; it is fiction about the fear of glitchy games, corrupted files, and bad coding. The paper explores glitch horror through the lenses of fan fiction and participatory culture, metafiction, the Freudian uncanny, the fallibility of technology, and fundamental rules of gaming and play.


Ghastly multiplication: Fatal Frame II and the Videogame Uncanny

Hoeger Laura Huber William
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

Through a close-play and close reading of the game Fatal Frame II, we identify the uniquely game-based aspects of the uncanny in a horror game. Subsequently, we engage in an interpretation of the game which centers on a psychoanalytic model of the avatar and theories of the twin.


Please Biofeed the Zombies: Enhancing the Gameplay and Display of a Horror Game Using Biofeedback

Dekker Andrew Champion Erik
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

This paper describes an investigation into how real-time but low-cost biometric information can be interpreted by computer games to enhance gameplay without fundamentally changing it. We adapted a cheap sensor, (the Lightstone mediation sensor device by Wild Divine), to record and transfer biometric information about the player (via sensors that clip over their fingers) into a commercial game engine, Half-Life 2. During game play, the computer game was dynamically modified by the player's biometric information to increase the cinematically augmented "horror" affordances. These included dynamic changes in the game shaders, screen shake, and the creation of new spawning points for the game's non-playing characters (zombies), all these features were driven by the player's biometric data. To evaluate the usefulness of this biofeedback device, we compared it against a control group of players who also had sensors clipped on their fingers, but for the second group the gameplay was not modified by the biometric information of the players. While the evaluation results indicate biometric data can improve the situated feeling of horror, there are many design issues that will need to be investigated by future research, and the judicious selection of theme and appropriate interaction is vital.


Schematically Disruptive Game Design

Howell Peter
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

Many games focus their resources at satiating player ‘needs’, and meeting perceived expectations that players have of how games should behave and of what constitutes enjoyable, gratifying gameplay. This paper outlines an alternate position on game design – one which focuses on disrupting these expectations, on designing games that players cannot succeed in simply by relying on their pre-acquired gameplay experiences. A critique of current game design trends is offered, and possible future outcomes of these trends analysed. The proposed framework for ‘Schematically Disruptive Design’ is discussed in relation to the current body of literature, alongside a justification of taking a development-led, horror-focused approach to this research programme. The current position of the research and intended direction of study is lastly outlined, along with the intended application of future results.


Textual Analysis, Digital Games, Zombies

Carr Diane
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

This paper is a contribution to ongoing debates about the value and limitations of textual analysis in digital games research. It is argued that due to the particular nature of digital games, both structural analysis and textual analysis are relevant to game studies. Unfortunately they tend to be conflated. Neither structural nor textual factors will fully determine meaning, but they are aspects of the cycle through which meaning is produced during play. Meaning in games is emergent, and play is a situated practice. Undertaking the textual analysis of a game does not necessarily involve ignoring these points. Textual analysis, like any methodology, does have limitations. The specifics of these limitations, however, will depend on the particular model of textuality employed. These issues are explored through an analysis of the survival horror game, Resident Evil 4.