The Value of Uncertainty Part 2: Negative Space

In the last post I wrote a little bit about the value of uncertainty in the mechanics of horror games. The idea is that the game may obfuscate certain game play systems (health, remaining ammunition, the location of enemies, etc) in order to keep the player off balance. A key trait of effective horror is […]

The Value of Uncertainty

My TV was hissing. It was a small set, 15 inches across, set on a short table in one corner of my ten-tatami-mat room in Kyoto. It was 1998, the middle of the night, and though my hosts were two floors below me, I worried that the sound would reach through the thin walls and […]


A couple of weeks ago I read about an indie horror game called Slender over at the Frictional Games blog. I booted it up and put on my headphones and was throughly impressed. It’s not much of a game–more of an experiment in setting and mechanics–but it works really well. I had my friend Jonny […]

The Philosophy of Horror

I’ve recently begun Noel Carroll‘s A Philosophy of Horror: Or, Paradoxes of the Heart, and though I’ve only just scratched the surface of the content I am already quite engrossed. Carroll’s intent is to take the horror genre, as defined by film and literature and other media, and put an academic lens to it; to […]

Mapping Horror Games

One of the things that running this site has taught me is that people absolutely love to argue about categorization, especially on the internet. So often the discussion centers around whether a particular game should be sorted into this bucket or that, and the definition of the buckets themselves is often the source of intense […]

This Time it’s Personal

In March I was visiting Tokyo when Japan was rocked by a huge earthquake and tsunami. In fact, the earthquake itself caused relatively little damage; it was the resulting tsunami that claimed the lives of almost 20,000 people in Northern Japan. To my surprise the news didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the […]

Biometric Analysis of Horror Games

Gamasutra is running the most complete biometrics study of horror games that I’ve seen. It’s fascinating research, and the end page of conclusions is particularly useful for the horror game designer. Most interestingly to me, the study finds key differences between how “core” gamers and “casual” gamers are scared. Core games see through scripted sequences […]

Recursive Unlocking, Now in Korean

I got a lot of positive feedback about my article on the recursive structure of Resident Evil’s map design, but the highest praise comes from a user named 9L, who translated my entire feature into Korean. I can’t read Korean (maybe some day), but I assume that translating a long text about game design and […]