Horror Videogames and the Uncanny


This paper explores the uncanny dimensions of avatars and gamespaces in survival horror videogames. The avatar’s combination of animation and lifelessness personifies Freud’s notion of the uncanny. Simultaneously, the cybernetic interaction between player and machine, whereby the digital figure appears to act with autonomy and agency, unsettles the boundaries between dead object and living person. Spaces in survival horror games characterise the uncanny architecture of horror films and literature. Many suggest the unsettling psychological disturbance lurking behind the homely and the familiar. A recurring aspect of survival horror combines the investigation of a protagonist’s origins, a return to the family home, and the exploration of gynecological spaces – blood red corridors, womb-like caverns, bloody chambers – reproducing what is for Freud the primal site of the uncanny.