There is a special bond between some men and their scary games.
I have watched my boyfriend play games and have little to no reaction in situations that would make the average person squeamish and jumpy. His claim has always been that he loves horror games and that, yes, he is dead inside.
Then, one day, he and his friend (who also loves horror games) dove headfirst into an early access game called Phasmophobia. In this game, you play ghost hunters and use typical ghost hunting equipment to investigate houses, schools, and sometimes asylums to try and figure out what type of ghost is haunting the area. The difference between actual ghost hunting and this game is that the ghosts can and will actually kill you. In very creepy ways. I was watching them play, as I usually do, and much to my amusement and surprise, an octave I have never heard come from my partner reverberated throughout the house.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, my boyfriend screamed, and echoing from the other side of the internet was his friend. Also screaming.
Here’s the scream that shattered the windows in my house (caution, there’s adult language):
And it’s not just them! There are a lot of people determined to show composure and bravery in the face of fear. It’s like we’re showing off our abilities to avoid flinching. It’s not just men, but there are many males who try to conform to the cultural stereotype of being courageous and unflappable.
Why do people love to be scared?
There is a reason why horror and suspense games are so popular with their eerie music and jump scares. In an article for Psychology Today, Christopher Dwyer, Ph.D., gives five reasons people might crave being scared:
- The safety net – Feeling the fear, but then feeling in control of the fear, offering a sense of security.
- The flood – A rush of endorphins and dopamine that eases fear and gives a sense of euphoria.
- Self-satisfaction – A sense of pride in “pushing the envelope” and handling the experience.
- Closeness with others – We might attribute pleasure sensations to the people we’re with, creating a bond with them.
- Curiosity – A desire to experience the unknown can stem from wanting to make more sense of the world.
Do these describe you or people you know who enjoy scary games and film?
People who like to be challenged or who enjoy thrills often describe getting scared as “exciting.” Those who have a more shy and sensitive temperament are less likely to go for those experiences according to psychiatrist Kathrine Brownlowe. [Lentz] I can attest to this. As my boyfriend and his friends rush inside the houses to potential death in Phasmophobia, my character usually “mans the cameras” in the truck. I see enough on the screen to last a lifetime. And while I have a blast playing the game, it is mostly about hanging out with this group of misfits and laughing at the screams and pure shock when, “surprise, surprise”, the ghost has murdered them in some horrific way after they repeatedly and shamelessly provoke them. I personally do not like being scared, but the adrenaline rush of being in the house when the ghost suddenly appears is hard to deny!
Why do we like to watch people getting scared?
I have thought a lot about this. What makes watching others playing horror games and getting scared so incredibly entertaining? We see thousands of YouTubers and Twitch streamers play horror games, often at the request of their viewers and subscribers. I suppose watching someone get scared is a bit of a guilty pleasure. It becomes a combination of horror and humor. You get to witness the pure and raw emotion of fear without being immersed in the game’s world and terrified yourself. You don’t have to experience the fear, but you can experience the hilarity that often follows. Most of the time, these brave people are able to laugh at themselves after literally falling out of their chairs or screaming at the top of their lungs. The rest of us just stay in the truck and watch on the cameras.
Here is a fun compilation of people screaming at video games. So much for those folks being “dead inside”!
Where do you fall on the scale? Do you love the thrill of anticipating the jump scare, or are you more inclined to just watch and laugh afterward? Sign in and share your thoughts in the comments!