Simul-tober: Is Gore Necessary?

All Hallows Eve has arrived, and with it comes the unfortunate close of our Simul-tober experiment.  This week’s article is from Cynenway, a fellow contributor from United We Game, who posts about all sorts of fantastic subjects over at A Life With Cyn.  Once you have finished your annual candy hunt, be sure to check out all of the other excellent horror gaming posts from this past month at United We Game, Cheese Toastie and Video Games, The Duck of Indeed, and A Life With Cyn!

Without further ado, Happy Halloween and Merry Horror Gaming!


Gore is a bit of a tricky subject when it comes to games, and even more so when it comes to horror games. I am one person who feels that gore should only be put in where it’s necessary, which really isn’t often. My friend was arguing with me the other day about how it was an integral part of horror games. Some people would assume from my distaste for gore that I am squeamish. I’m not overly so. Although the scene from the movie (which I’m afraid I’m going to throw a few movie examples in, since the media are pretty close) Silent Hill instead of the game, in which Pyramid Head rips off the girl’s skin and throws it, is an instance where I find it completely unnecessary.

I can’t say that gore is completely unnecessary, but a lot of the time, it’s done more as a jump scare, or to the point where you’re just desensitized to it. As much as I love the Silent Hill series, there’s blood everywhere. It stops being the first thing you notice when you walk into a room. Jump scares definitely have their place, as with the mannequin scene in Silent Hill 3. The most memorable one for me though, is from 5 Days a Stranger. I don’t remember how old I was, but I would assume still in Elementary School. I wandered into my brother’s room to see what he was playing. The scene seems straight-forward enough. The guy was talking to a child who was in the bath, or a shower. I didn’t get the full context, but I got that much. Then the curtain is pulled away, and you have a corpse in a bathtub full of blood, writing on the wall. The game didn’t have great graphics at all by today’s standards, but that scene has stuck with me to this day as one of the most effective.

My point is that yes, gore can definitely be effective. Yes, it can even be seen as necessary. But again, using a movie reference, think of Alien. There was really just one particularly gory scene (the Chestburster scene), and while I know that may be the thing of nightmares to some, it never was to me. Instead, it was the rest of the movie. Turning the corner, never knowing what may be ahead, just knowing that you were hunted no matter where you went. That is horror to me. Not the guts lying everywhere around you, or body parts hanging from the ceiling. You do not have to have the gore to have horror, as I was trying to make my point to my friend. It has its moments, but becomes more of a backdrop than anything else.

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