Join Our Typo-Riddled Transcript on Survival-Horror Narratives

By Rich Shivener in Unraveling Yarns
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 3:00 pm
Dead Space ois (570 x 369).jpg
Typos are as scary as Dead Space.

The half-brains behind JD's "Unraveling Yarns" series recently had a bout on Google Chat, rambling about zombies and the power of survival-horror video games. Consider this riffage streaming from the mind to the page, and feel welcome to join in - typo free or not.

Seriously, tell us about your favorite zombie narratives.
This little chat started off with us musing about the "UY" series.

Rich: Nice. I got UY this week - I think I'll meditate on Death Note. Just recently got into that manga series. [Note: Rich is still meditating on this idea. So, yeah, he lied.]
James: cool dude. sounds good.
I realized what will help me with my UYs
...actually beating some video games
12:24 PM
I just beat Braid again, and I've got a lot to say for that one.

12:35 PM
James: about to roll through Dead Space 2, gonna have something to say on that, too.

12:45 PM
Rich: Good ideas.
I think the survival-horror genre serves narrative well.
I was thinking about that when I saw Woman in Black.
James: yeah, definitely
how was that, by the way?
12:46 PM
Rich: In a word, scary. Solid ending - not one that was amazing, but not total bullshit.
James: okay, good.
and yeah -- i agree about survival horror
12:47 PM
the limitations within the structure of the gameplay is a pretty cool technique...
like, i dont know, but that's a device that's used in a way no other genre can really do it
12:48 PM
i think there's something peculiar about playing horror games specifically to be scared. i'll have to think on that one
12:49 PM
Rich: Yes...!
Maybe what I'm referring to is psychological horror
12:50 PM
For instance, you play the Dead Space series, and you know something is going to jump at you. The gameplay drives the narrative and shapes for the player.
On the other hand, there are some survival horror games that [are] mainly about [surviving], i.e. running away and shooting everything possible. House of the Dead. Hmm.. What else?
12:51 PM
Games like those are all about the gameplay and offer little substance.
James: yeah, just about gut reactions
12:52 PM
Rich: You know the zombies are coming your way, and you have to defeat them.
James: but, i dont know, there's something about games like Dead Space and Resident Evil where you get deeper than that
12:53 PM
like, survival in Dead Space is generally so meaningless -- it's not like you're going to save the world, but there's still this drive to keep on
its really bizarre now that i think about it
12:54 PM
Rich: Games like those have a great story complemented by this strange mix of suspense and surprise.
12:56 PM
Surprises in the gameplay; suspense in the story. I think a game needs both to be an engaging survival horror. I usually invest more in games like that because I'm interested in seeing what happens AFTER all the mayhem.
James: yeah, definitely
and here's one of my next topics...
zombie stories,
well great ones anyway,
are never about zombies
they're about people
12:57 PM
me: Indeed they are
James: its always how people respond to adversity together
12:58 PM
and zombies are just representative of this threat, which could be whatever, but it is all about how lucid, non-zombie humans act in survival mode.
12:59 PM
Rich: It's interesting to see how threats challenge morals.
1:00 PM
But yeah, you could do some interesting character studies.
1:02 PM
Rich: You know what I say? Lightly edit this transcript and publish it.
James: done and done

Unraveling Yarns is a weekly column that explores video games as narrative delivery devices. James Hawkins and Rich Shivener discuss their opinions on some of gaming's most challenging and nuanced stories from all generations. Follow James on Twitter @JamesHawk1ns. Follow Rich on Twitter @RichShiv.  
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