Creepypasta traditionally is a brand of horror storytelling that hinges itself on the stuff of urban legends and the kinda creepy-crawly stories that make you sleep uneasy with the nightlight on, and your eyes open, bathed in cold sweat saying over to yourself “This is stupid, nothing like that exists… right?”
There are messageboards on dedicated, creepypasta websites, filled to the brim with scary stories from writers trying to outdo each other, their internet campfire stories rated and shared. The viral element that only occured from word of mouth is now shared across forums and messageboards.
Creepypasta games work not because of some hot special effects or hollywood-esque design. These games work on a simple principle that made the horror stories of urban legends instil fear in people who tell them. That principle is letting an object of fear metamorphose and grow in the mind of the receiver. Letting the horror grow with each telling, with each ‘siting’.
Will Wiles in an Aeon online mag interview best explained:
Creepypasta works best when the medium infects the message—in fact, when the messageboard infects the message and you get a sense of the internet starting to talk about itself
Hinging themselves on this form of viral fanfare, Creepypasta games infect the player’s mind, letting you trick yourself into fearing something rather than trying to scare you. Using tall tales surrounding ‘bigfoot’-type legends like Slenderman, or anything detailed from the SCP Foundation creepypasta games makes your mind take the journey and you are the one that manifests your own greatest fear.
Slender (2012), an indie game by Parsec Productions set off a wave of Slenderman story resurgence/ internet memes. Slender is based on the Slenderman urban legend that has a oddly tall, slender, faceless man-like creature stalk and torture people, particularly children.
What makes for good narrative, in turn makes for good horror gaming. Soon you’ll find yourself believing. The object of our fears become all too real when we are shown just enough of a siting of Slenderman, or a fated disc labelled ‘Factory Porn’, our mind obsesses over or darkest ‘thanatos’. Very Freudian indeed.Games like Simogo’s Year Walk (2013) are prime examples of games in this genre. In Year Walk, based on Swedish folklore, you the protagonist take part in a ritual of a Year Walk, battling supernatural entities by solving puzzles and at the end of the walk you can see a glimpse of the future. Without giving much away, the player’s future portrays him doing the unthinkable. The game also game with an app, which it held clues which you can use to solve difficult puzzles, and replay the game to avoid the player’s ill-fate (if that’s your wish, anyway). See the trailer for the game in the player below:
The medium of Year Walk itself, being an iOS game, give players a hands-on tactile interaction experience, immersing them into the game and narrative. Other games like SCP Containment Breach, which puts you in charge of recapturing supernatural entities and creatures, all of which come with their own set of containment guidelines, warnings and logistical issues that cause us to come face-to-face with out greatest fears. And if they aren’t followed, your dead.
This brand of gaming has been quite immersive, and its intrinsic fear factor lets the viewer and player take dark plunges into their greatest trepidations. We hope when the majors do eventually catch on, that they keep true the essence of true and total fear; that fear is a bi-product of not what we necessarily see but an overactive imagination and the mind continually obsessing over our greatest mortal fears.