Cultural influences in horror games – How our world is reflected in the survival horror
Whether urban legends, abandoned villages or social customs: in horror games, developers use their culture to create authentic worlds.
My name is Howard Wright. I am an American student and a mysterious e-mail has taken me to a small village in Japan. My head hurts and the world around me is wrapped in a deep darkness. Something is going on here. I wanted to ask a policeman for help, but he does not understand English. Worse, he seems obsessed and wants to shoot me!
On the run I meet Miyako. She also speaks only Japanese, but her gestures give me to understand that she also wants to flee. Seigo Seiga, a village doctor, at least half speaks English. Much is lost in the translation in our conversations but united us to share the common will to survive. I feel strange in a country where I can only communicate properly in big cities. But emotions are a universal language that every person in this world understands without words. In the role of Howard Wright in Siren: Blood Curse, this becomes clear to me.
Video games do not arise in a vacuum. They are created by people whose studio is in a certain place in this world. Every country, every culture, every city is different. In combination with the social and political circumstances, as well as the personal life experiences of the designers, this can leave traces in artistic creation.
External influences of the environment, however, do not necessarily have to be reflected in the actual game. The Japanese team Silent developed with Silent Hill,for example, a small town on the American model. A fresh look at a foreign environment allows artists to show a remarkable eye for detail. The environments in the game keep the balance between recognition and artistic interpretation.
In such cases, searches are necessary that do not exclude travel. Some developers create an extensive photo archive in order to provide the graphic designers with a working basis. Of course, being a local writer also inspires authors.
Great effort was for example for Alan Wake operated. The Finnish team did a lot of research into ghost towns in the Pacific Northwest and even hired an architect to better understand the building design there. They made numerous trips and had shot in the end about 40,000 photos. All this should be incorporated into the game, from great landscapes to small details.