Mythology, Horror, and the Unknown: Horror Traditions in Video Games
Laila Carter–Harvard ’17.
Read Laila’s work here:
- “Beacon Received”: The Satisfaction of Discovery in the Metroid series.
- Beyond the Panel’s Frame: The Transformation of Comics into Video Games
- Bayonetta: Female Sexuality and Agency in Video Games
- Mythology, Horror, and the Unknown: Horror Traditions in Video Games
Learn about Laila here:
Hello! Nice to virtually meet you.
One of my most vivid memories of when I was little was when my sister and dad would gather around the TV. Both of them held controllers and began yelling excitedly; so naturally, being three years old, I got excited as well. I jumped up and down and watched the TV screen intently, watching a blue-spiked creature running in loops and nearly disappearing off the screen. My sister later explained to me that the creature’s name was Sonic the Hedgehog, and it took me until middle school to realize that hedgehogs actually are not blue. But I still distinctly remember my sister yelling frantically as she controlled this character, trying to reach the end of the level with the spinning sign, jumping in a blue ball and collecting rings. Unfortunately, because of this fond memory, it took me a while to realize that most Sonic the Hedgehog games – aside from the earlier ones that my sister played – were absolutely abysmal.
So my first introduction to gaming was through my sister’s Sega Genesis, and I remember watching Sonic, Street Fighter II (I thought Ken was an idiot and M. Bison was too powerful to defeat), Streets of Rage, Batman and Robin, and a random Garfield game where he turns into a vampire at one point – the Garfield game was the one game my sister let me play. After a few years, however, she “grew out” of video games, but I never did. In the fourth grade and got my first game station, the Nintendo GameCube (nope, I never had a Nintendo 64), then the Wii, then an Xbox 360, and now a Wii U. Don’t judge me on my last purchase – I wanted Bayonetta 2 so badly that I was having conniptions.
I had a mostly Nintendo-based childhood of gaming, only starting Xbox 360 games in later high school, but I am a huge YouTube addict. I watch idiots failing in platform games or being scared senseless in horror games. The latter is what I invest in the most, since horror is my favorite genre of all time. I also watch many walkthroughs of games that I will never play, like Bowser’s Inside Story for the Nintendo DS, or games that I will eventually play, like the apocalyptic Darksiders. I had watched the entire walkthrough of Darksiders years before I played it, because I was mostly interested in stories, and how stories unfold in a game.
I am an English major, minoring in Folklore and Mythology, interested in forms of narrative, character types, suspense, horror, mythic fiction, and how narrative expands our view of the world. My goal is to look at 1) storytelling elements in video games and how they impact the players, 2) the mythos in game franchises, and 3) literary devices taken from literature, comics, and even movies, and apply them to gaming. Sometimes I will write out of curiosity, and other times I will write because of frustrating game design choices; but know that I want to show people how video games are one of the most important forms of narrative, teaching people about their decision-making and imagination, curiosity and morals, biases and reactions. I absolutely love video games, and I want people to understand why, and maybe feel the same.
Thank you for your support! If you want to contact me, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to talk about video games, storytelling, or just general nerd raves about how Dark Link is the best thing that ever happened.
I wish you well on your virtual journey through the gaming world.