CATS – Critical Perspectives Essay Proposal

I will be comparing the video games “Silent Hill” and “Amnesia – The Dark Descent” in a psychoanalytical perspective. Specifically, I intend to look at how the environments and environmental effects immerse the player into the game.

I have chosen to look at horror games in a psychoanalytical perspective because the act of engaging a player via their feelings really interests me. This is something that can be seen in many different genres, but the horror genre gives this a very unique spin by playing with the very emotions and feelings that make you feel safe. I feel that by going in this direction, I can address the reasons why and how horror games manipulate these feelings through the environments and environmental effects to immerse you more greatly into the game. I also intend to address differences between Silent Hill and Amnesia in their approaches to this, as Silent Hill is a much older game than Amnesia and there are bound to be many differences as to how they achieve their horror.

I intend to carry out research on horror games that came before to see where these characteristics first appeared within games. I also intend to play though both Amnesia and Silent Hill and make notes as I am doing so as I haven’t played these games before. This will give me more of an insight into the game as I play it, as an additional resource to researching further into the game. I also intend to use the library to find books which deal with the effects of horror-themed media (not just games but movies, novels etc…) as well as books which deal with immersion and flow.

I intend to be using the perspective of psychoanalysis in my essay.

I have already found a few interesting websites and books which discuss psychological effects on players/viewers/readers. One of the most interesting books I have found is called Horror Film and Psychoanalysis: Freud’s Worst Nightmares by Steven Jay Schneider. The book is described as follows:

“Psychoanalytic theory has been the subject of attacks from philosophers, cultural critics and scientists who have questioned the cogency of its reasoning as well as the soundness of its premises. Nevertheless, when used to shed light on horror cinema, psychoanalysis in its various forms has proven to be a fruitful and provocative interpretative tool. This volume seeks to find the proper place of psychoanalytic thought in critical discussion of cinema in a series of essays that debate its legitimacy, utility and validity as applied to the horror genre. It distinguishes itself from previous work in this area through the self-consciousness with which psychoanalytic concepts are employed and the theorization that coexists with interpretations of particular horror films and subgenres.”

Book Description taken from Amazon.co.uk (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Horror-Film-Psychoanalysis-Nightmare-Cambridge/dp/0521107857)

I have also found a few helpful documents and blog posts online about the psychoanalysis of horror games such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill, which are two of the most iconic horror game series out there.

In terms of potential problems that I may come across, I definitely wouldn’t call myself a horror game expert. I haven’t played all that many due to the fact that I tend not to get on too well with horror games. I will however take necessary measures to ensure that I make it though the games in order to get as much information as I can from them. I will also ensure that I triple check my facts to ensure that I am getting the correct information.

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