The Evil Within: the science of survival horror

Feeling scared is enjoyable, told Dr Russell Green to David Jenkins from Metro GameCentral last week. Our co-founder was interviewed as an expert in the psychology behind games and fear, previous to the launch of a new survival horror videogame called The Evil Within, which is sort of the follow up to Resident Evil's saga. People enjoys being frightened because it taps into human emotion.


Fear seems to be closer to us when playing videogames than when we watch movies or read books. This is due to the fact that when you're playing a game, you're that character that you control and therefore, things happen to you. When we watch movies and see that someone is in danger, we still feel fear because we mirror the other person's feelings and have the image of experiencing the horror, but it's on a complete different level. It also depends on the level of engagement of the spectator with the character and the story.

A videogame does not necessarily need to have any meaningful story for us to become scared. It just needs to include a few triggers like being alone, a dark environment, a predator lurking in the shadows. It's back to basics, like in prehistory, when people lived in a world of peril waiting for stuff to jump on them and having to run away or fight while they looked for anything that would help them make it to the next day.

But as much as survival horror games are effective due to all these emotions that make the player feel immersed in the scary environment, developers have to be careful with the contents as we advance into virtual reality and more realistic games. They could reach the point where they may reach such a level of realism that the experience becomes traumatic for some.

Such an interesting reading, click in the button below to access the full interview.