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Psychoanalyzing Resident Evil and Silent Hill 67

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-some-seriously-screwed-up-stuff-there dept.
The Game Career Guide site has up a piece doing a psychological examination of horror games. The uber-successful series Resident Evil and Silent Hill go under the microscope, giving readers a look at the psychological archetypes the games elicit, while also discussing the titles from a gameplay standpoint. It is the author's contention that the RE series is the 'standard' for the genre, while Silent Hill games shake up the gamer's viewpoint with 'avant-garde' elements. An interesting, and thoroughly academic look, at the modern face of gaming horror.
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Psychoanalyzing Resident Evil and Silent Hill

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  • They worked hard... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Junta (36770) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @08:22PM (#17914416)
    To try to shoehorn RE4 to line up some of the symbology to Silent Hill..

    RE4 wasn't really the same sort of game as previous RE games, not really scary at all, just an action game for the most part. That said, RE has never struck me as being a particularly deep game series, for the most part simple resource scarcity and 'boo!' moments for relatively cheap suspense/horror. Extensive psychoanalysis of that series, particularly trying to pull in desire for a womb/sexual desire, comes off as a huge piece of bullshit to me.

    Silent Hill's creators obviously very much buy into and intentionally incorporate every psychoanalysts dream smorgasbord of refrences/meaning. It ultimately makes it easy for psychoanalysts to roll through and point out the obvious things put in by the creators. Problem, for me at least, was the whole womb/room/umbilical cord thing just didn't strike me really. In fact, it kinda softened the impact of the whole thing because even as they tried to integrate it, it just seemed out-of-place, and not out of place in an eerie way, just in an almost funny 'reducing suspension of disbelief' sort of way. It was just so painfully obvious a psychological theory planted into the game that I've never took stock in. The fact that I didn't buy into it reinforces to me the decreased merit of 'everyone wants to be back in the womb' theories that pervade psychology. However, to me, Silent Hill *does* make good use of some deeper psychology to evoke deeper suspense and fear that is more persistant than anything in the Resident Evil series, so net Silent Hill's strategy of using more complex psychology works for them. To this end I was able to look past the parts that bugged me and enjoyed the overall game.

    When I observe psychological archetypes that I do not believe have real meaning in a game, for me that's generally the point where I'm convinced (it fits so well, leaves my suspension of belief intact, and I can identify with the situation), or proves to myself that I'm not just being skeptical. Maybe it varies from person to person, but it seems most psychoanalysis is no where near as universal as the writers would have you believe.
  • It has its points (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Grizpin (899482) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @08:47PM (#17914722)
    I have recently played through both RE4 and SH2 so the experience is fresh. I can see how the points the authors made in this peice highlight each games style. Not just in horror gaming but in how a good horror story is told. I never really thought of it the way they analyze it. I'm currently in school for game development and I enjoyed reading the psychoanalytic view of both these series. RE being the game style of save the world and put things in order vs. SH where everything that happens has us question our own avatars sanity (and perhaps our own). Horror game development is something I thought I might work on some day. This really opened my eyes and I'm glad I read it. Perhaps it will inspire me when I make my own horror game some day :)
  • Re:Article (Score:3, Interesting)

    by theCurse (1019716) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:04PM (#17915882)
    The enemies in RE 4 were zombies. They weren't Night of the Living Dead zombies, but they were mindless husks under the control of another entity (which could be seen as more in line with the original zombie myth).

    Perhaps you need to expand your definition of "zombie."
  • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @12:14AM (#17916420) Journal
    Thought I might post my thoughts on horror games.

    For some reason, unknown to me I have nothing short of a fantastic suspension of disbelief.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suspension_of_disbeli ef [wikipedia.org]

    I don't know why, it could be my upbringing, I might have trouble telling from real and fantasy, I could have deep mental issues, who knows.
    What I do know is that I totally and utterly am scared easily, be it movies / games etc, it's fantastic - because I can enjoy some games more but it's terrible because I can be frightened so much.

    Here's some examples of games I have quit due to fear.

    Aliens vs Predator 2 demo, quit on the second level, not seeing a single alien, scared the shit out of me.
    System Shock 2, lasted 5 minutes into the demo, quit - terrifying
    Ultima Underworld 1 (yes UW1) I quit when I reached level 5, the ghosts, paranormal stuff, demons and darkness - I high tailed it back to the dos prompt.
    Space Hulk (again an old one) - not a chance in hell.
    Doom 1, I finished it but I distinctly recall playing it on .. well an adrenaline high, I raced through - terrified, loved it but didn't stop to breathe.
    Silent Hill 3, lasted about 10 minutes, iirc it was foggy - quit.
    Call of Cthulu, made it to the town, got into some kind of store and stole a liquor bottle, couldn't escape before the guy caught me - fear was too intense anyhow and quit.

    I couldn't watch Disney's the black hole because Maximillion scared the shit out of me :/
    I watched the exorcist recently for the first time and made a conscious mental decision to simply switch my mind off - I "observed" without listening, otherwise I'd totally shit myself.
    Devils advocate, didn't know what it was about, when the "evil wives" faces morphed demonically, well I finished the movie but it scared the shit out of me.

    Funny enough though I also get embaressed when watching some movies, I put myself in the shoes of the actor / actors, I find some humour difficult to watch and awkward, Borat for example makes me cringe, I see the humour but I can't watch it, nor can I watch someone make a fool of themselves on youtube, I feel embaressed for them - I don't feel the disconnect from the situation that others do, so it makes things quite awkward.

    So, to get back on topic, scary games can be an amazing experience, because well - I feel like I've experienced it somewhat, for real, myself - and I've survived, it's fantastic but such a burden too.

    The more you know.

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