What makes games scary?


Resident Star Battle Expert.
The frustration that you can never beat certain levels of the game.Where it makes you yank out your hair in Rage and after a few minutes you're reduced to a bubbling idiot sobbing in the corner because the game mocks you with it's existence.


User title under construction.
the first part of bioshock when you first enter rapture scared the shit out of me and i still have nightmares about it sometimes, so much that the rest of the game really got to me just because of the initial splicer. even tho the rest of the game was very mild the beginning kept me on my guard and slowly peaking around corners. But as someone before me said, small enclosed areas and a monster you don't know and are helpless against.


The Evolved Panda Commandant
Staff member
Also, crazy people on ceilings/ceiling corners are scary for some reason.



Post in the anime section, or die.
are you thinking of the exorcist? ^_^

I guess if you see like real people stark mad then its pretty freaky


I keep popping up on this site from time to time.
As said by WastedSavior, "Fear is a subjective experience.". Some things scare people more than others, though some fears are much more common than others (spiders, anyone?).
The way you can get this to work to your advantage is to play these fears against the player. Lets say, for example, you wanted to use the fear of being alone. You would accomplish this by creating an environment where there is nothing, and I do mean nothing. An endless blackness. No sound, no light, just eternal darkness.
You could further exploit this by adding another fear. Throw in a malformed, dead 'thing' that should obviously not exist, but yet does, and is currently trying to eat you, or throw in some sort of alien with it's primary goal being to capture you and experiment on you until your dead.

Throw in the right music, proper visual cues and some other elements, and you should have something quite scary on your hands.
(Of course, it's a more detailed and complex than my example, but it does serve as a basic demonstration (on my opinion of the subject, at least).)

If your looking for more information, you should definitely take a look at the Wikipedia articles. They might not be 100% accurate (as it always is with Wikipedia. :/ ), but it should provide some further insight on to the subject.
I'd start here. It doesn't have a whole lot of information on how to induce fear, but there are several pages it links to that may be useful (especially this one. Lovecraftian horror is the best I've encountered so far)


Mostly known as Zomby Jezuz
I think Doom 3 did an amazing job as far as the action/horror genre goes. Key elements were lighting, sound, an unseen force, and being outnumbered. There were also a few jump out and "boo" kind of moments. The lighting in the game was amazing, add to the fact that you couldn't keep your light source and your weapon up at the same time and it's terrifying. You were constantly sweeping corners and when you encountered a threat and dropped your light for your pistol you had to rely on the light from your gun and hope for the best.

The sound and the unseen force worked very well. There were moments were you could hear creatures around corners, or behind a secret wall, but you weren't sure. There was also points in the games when a corpse would shift slightly. There was also the fact that you were alone, it was only you, no one had your back.

That's my take on it, I guess to summarize I'd say apply a hindrance. In the case of Doom it was your flashlight.


You can change this now in User CP.
F.E.A.R. really scared me so much I didn't even have the guts to finish it. What made it so scary, was that it actually announces encounters with Alma, but you never know how or when. So even though you expect it, it still scares the crap out of you. Also the idea that someone is watching you all the time and can easily kill you if she wanted to, with no way to beat her, is pretty darn scary.


I wear a fez now, fezzes are cool.
Staff member
For me it's all about the lighting and sound. Dark lights with eerie music that cuts out right as about something strange/scary is about to happen scares the heck out of me. Or making normal, everyday things scary will keep me scared for weeks. I once watched an episode of CSI where the killer hid under the victim's bed all day until they went to sleep, then he came out and killed her. I couldn't sleep for weeks. I know this is a scary game threat, but that was an example of how to make a game scary..

I found that Bioshock was rather terrifying.



I haven't read through all the posts but what makes me shit my pants when I play HL2 Ravenholm is the feeling of never being safe. For instance you kill a zombie in Ravenholm and you instinctively shoot him when his down to secure he is REALLY dead.

Another thing that creeps me out is when you have happy music or calm music and use that to your advantage to scare him.

Also one important thing is panic. The amount of fear you gain when you panic is ridiculous. That's why Zombie Hordes are good for.
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