I have finally finished another horror game and written a review. This time it’s Dead Space 2, which I quite enjoyed. You can read the review, which turned out a bit longer than I had anticipated. I’ve been itching to write about horror games for months (not to mention the horror conference I attended back in November, but that’ll have to wait for a future post), and it feels nice to get this one out the door.
Part of the reason for the length of the Dead Space 2 article is that I took the opportunity to discuss the concept of negative space. We’ve talked about negative space on this blog for years, but I haven’t had a convenient term for it; the aforementioned Dakota State horror conference gave me this nifty term for the concept. Negative space is the area in which the game (or film, or any sort of narrative) provides clues to some vague, larger structure, but never fills in the details. It is Akira Yamaoka’s “imagination space,” surrounded by clues and incongruent information carefully planted for the player to discover. Negative space is all of the parts of the story that go unaddressed, the bits that must exist and yet are never given actual form. In horror, negative space is of prime importance because it is often home to the scariest of creatures: the ones that we create for ourselves to satisfy the unanswered questions in the story.
At any rate, there’s much more to be said about negative space, but I was happy to have the opportunity to use this useful term in my Dead Space 2 review. Dead Space 2, it turns out, doesn’t have enough negative space, though that’s about its only shortcoming.