Admit it, you like being scared. The rush of adrenaline, the pumping of your heart, that exhilarating feeling; it’s why we watch horror films, go on roller coasters, partake in extreme sports, read Stephen King and watch the news on television at night. Horror is everywhere but as a genre for gaming though, it’s been pretty limited.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been a few great horror games though. A couple of my personal favourite have been Doom 3 (I played it on the hardest difficulty and could only stomach 30 minutes at a time) and more recently Dead Space (my wife used to giggle when I screamed whilst playing it). Horror games, and I’m not talking about the gratuitous mega violence ones here, can be exceptional when done right because they invoke strong emotions from the player.
So where on Earth are the horror MMORPGs? We’ve got enough fantasy ones to last a lifetime, a few sci-fi ones to wet our appetite with but absolutely nothing scary to speak off. And it’s a genre ripe for the taking with so much untapped potential.
I suppose I can understand the reluctance of developers wanting to take a risk with horror due to it’s adult nature and the resulting smaller target audience it will reach. Why make a Lovecraft-esque MMORPG when a happy, smiling, hugs all round Elves based fantasty one will appeal to so many more people? Like many things in life, it boils down to money.
Fortunately though, it seems like some developers are starting to recognise the potential of horror MMOs and with any luck we won’t have to too long until they appear. Funcom is working on The Secret World which is looks quite titillating and CCP have signed a deal to use the World of Darkness license in a MMO. Bloody great stuff (pun intended).
Still not convinced by the potential of a horror MMORPG? Well imagine that if running a dungeon in your usual fantasy MMORPG is fun, imagine how much funner it would be if you were scared witless doing it.