Horror games are a well-known genre especially for those who enjoy a good scare. In fact, in recent years many well-known independent developers have created horror games that have become household names in the gaming community.
Among such games are Five Nights at Freddy’s, Lone Survivor and Doki Doki Literary Club. While they are categorised as horror games, they are different from one another by the way they employ different techniques used to scare the player.
One of these is called the “jump scare technique”. The jump scare method, however, has long been employed before the existence of horror games. They were first used in horror films to scare the audience with a sudden change of the image or event, usually accompanied with loud and terrifying sounds. It often happens when the soundtrack goes completely quiet and the viewer expects that nothing bad will happen.
One of the earlier transitions of the jump scare technique from the cinema to the household computer was with something called the “internet screamer” back in 1996. An internet screamer, or simply known as screamer, is a video game that is circulated on the internet that changes the flow of the game without warning, in order to shock the user. The game makes you think you are playing a cute game and all of a sudden, a monster’s image appears on the screen!
An example would be The Scary Maze game by Winterrowd. It is a simple game with an clever jump scare mechanics – the player is directed to move their mouse along a path without touching the sides of the walls. As the level increases the walls become more and more narrow, making it harder. If the player touches the wall early in the game, it will bring the player back to the start menu, and the player must start all over. But when the player finally reaches a certain point, whether or not the wall is touched, a bloodcurdling scream accompanied by a horrifying image from The Exorcist appears without warning, shocking the player.
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