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Tag Archives: Horror

Triggers: Mental Health & Gaming

I love Horror. I don’t think that’s a shock to anyone. I’ve avoided a lot of horror games for various reasons, mainly because I’m a bit high strung and anxious. Reason for that? I live with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (c-PTSD), it comes with anxiety.

When I started my stream with The Blair Witch game, everything was fine. I was a bit anxious because I was going in a little bit blind. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything important. I explored and got confused, but as I roamed the woods the main character loses sight of his dog and begins to have a PTSD episode.

Most people won’t think anything of it. It’s just a stressed moment for a video game character. However, to me, it’s much more than that. I was unaware that he had PTSD and if I were aware I wouldn’t have started playing it. I confirmed with the chat that he did indeed have PTSD and apologized to everyone and switched the game. Had it not been for Vanri sitting in voice chat with me (to help ease my anxiety) suggesting that I stop playing, I may have tried to force my way through the game.

That would have been a terrible idea. My anxiety was high from watching him have this episode and as I continued on to look for the dog, it was getting worse. The visual effects were wonderful because his panic attack looks and sounded like mine. If I had continued further I probably would have been triggered into a panic attack or worse. So I jumped over to State of Decay 2 for the rest of my stream. 

The next night I decided to try Alien: Isolation. I was trying to get back into horror games and I’ve heard amazing things. About 2 hours in, I was overwhelmed by the atmospheric noise. I could feel a panic attack rising and I had to stop playing. Was there anything wrong with the game? No! The problem lies with my mental illness. I stopped playing the game and went back to State of Decay 2

You see, I like to think that I can do anything, but I have limitations. We found one when I played through Layers of Fear, an amazing game that I will always recommend. The subject matter was a lot more closely related to my own trauma than I realized. I wasn’t even aware that my attitude had changed toward everyone around me, but they pointed out that I was extremely agitated and my anxiety was high until I finished playing the game. So from that point forward, we had to look for specific elements in my horror games. If it wasn’t a first-person game, Vanri would play the game first to make sure that there wasn’t anything triggering in the storyline.

I assumed that it was the only thing I had to worry about, but to be honest, I didn’t even check to see if that was present in Blair Witch. Now, watching let’s plays or streams of these games are fine, but playing them is different. It’s the difference between watching and experiencing. It’s more immersive. I’d watched Layers of Fear on YouTube and Vanri’s playthroughs of it. I knew the story, but experiencing it was hard. I am lucky it didn’t bring up anything worse, like flashbacks. 

So a little extra medication this week and a hard lesson learned. There is a reason I don’t play horror games in which I can’t fight back. I’m not invincible and I have very real limitations. I need to research these games more before I jump right into them because I don’t want to trigger myself, whether I’m on stream or not. I have to make sure that there isn’t abuse, the characters don’t have PTSD or other mental disorders that could trigger mine, there isn’t abundant (though very well done) noise triggering anxiety.

More than that, I need to be okay with stepping away. I need to be okay with setting down the controller (figuratively) and putting myself first, putting my mental state first. To drop the tough act every now and then to ensure better mental wellness for myself and those around me. At the end of the day, that is my responsibility. I never know if something could trigger me, but how I handle those situations speaks volumes about the progress I’ve made and my self-awareness. I’m also thankful to have such amazing support that helps me make these decisions.

Again, and I cannot stress this enough, I am not upset at any of these games. It is not their fault that I was triggered. I am 100% responsible for my mental health in this regard. I view it the same way as a food allergy. Ask before you eat, just in case. Does this have nuts in it? Does this have abuse in it? 

So from now on, I will look into my horror games more. If everything seems okay, then I will play it, but if I am triggered I will allow myself to step back and stop playing. My community and viewers will understand and at the end of the day, I am more important. 

Are there any amazing games out there that have triggered you or things you should watch out for? Better yet, have a horror game to recommend that is void of my triggers? Let me know in the comments, but for now, back to Prey!

Thia’s Top Ten Foreign Horror Movies

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There are few things in this world as enjoyable as good horror movies. There are so many kinds of horror. Ghosts that makes you question every shadow on the wall. Killers who slash their way through the cast of attractive teenagers. One of my favorite sub genres is J-Horror. This has led me to start watching different movies that also weren’t American. Here are some of my favorites that I hope you will enjoy!

    1. Ringu. This movie is a great example of the “found footage” genre of horror. Released in 1998 and directed by Japanese Hideo Nakata this movie is so popular that it has an American remake. When a reporter’s research leads her to an unlabeled videotape she may find herself in for more than she bargained for. If you like found footage and creepy ghost girls then this is a movie for you! 
    2. Shutter. Shutter has a fantastic story with many twists. This thriller hails from Thailand and was directed by  Banjong Pisanthanakun and  Parkpoom Wongpoom. It was released in 2004. When a photographer and his girlfriend see something strange in one of his photos it triggers a series of spooky events. If you want great surprises with your horror then check out this one.   
    3. Ju-On:The Grudge. This is one more fantastic Japanese horror movie. It was released in 2002 and directed by Takashi Shimizu who also directed the American remake. A social worker enters the wrong house during her rounds. This one has ghosts and a killer story to uncover.
    4. A Tale of Two Sisters. This amazing film hails from Korea. It was released in 2003 and directed by Jee-woon Kim. Two sisters come home from a mental institution with more hurdles to their recovery then just their cruel stepmother. This movie is honestly my favorite on the list. The story is just phenomenal.
    5. Reincarnation. This was my first foreign horror movie and it is so good. Reincarnation was directed by Takashi Shimizu, yes this is his second mention in this article, in 2005. A Japanese actress starts to see things after landing a coveted role in a horror movie. 
    6. Tag. This 2015 Japanese film was directed by Sion Sono. A field trip gone wrong leads to a very bad day for a Japanese teenager. Careful, this one is gory. 
    7. Train to Busan. This one is for all the zombie fans out there. In 2016 director Sang-ho Yeon unleashed this movie. Set in South Korea passengers on a train must survive the zombie outbreak on their way to Busan. 
    8. Tales of Terror from Tokyo and All Over Japan: The Movie. Directors Keita Amemiya and Shun’ichi Hirano released this film of a collection of horror stories in 2004. It features many different chilling stories from throughout Japan. There is also a television series of a similar name that is very good!
    9. The Phantom of the Theater. This movie is a treat for the eyes. Full of bright imagery and directed by Wai Man Yip this movie was released in 2016. The setting is Shanghai in the 1930s. A movie is being filmed in an old theater but there are setbacks happening and some of them might be deadly. 
    10. The Wailing. This Korean film was released in 2016 and directed by Hong-jin Na. When a small village contracts a mysterious disease local police step in to try to find a solution. That leads to a stranger with dangerous ways.

 

 

If you haven’t tried a foreign frightening film then I hope you will take these into consideration. All of these films have great stories. Many of them have lots of twists and turns in their stories. Some have even been remade into American versions. So happy watching and pleasant dreams!  

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Games Created by Women: Blackwell’s Asylum

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Would you think you would be able to survive in a nineteenth century mental institution? What if, once admitted, you were sent to an asylum known as a place where no one ever left? What if the doctors were not only there to keep you from escaping but also to perform whatever atrocities on you that they wished?

Blackwell’s Asylum is a game that tests the abilities of the player to not only survive but also  to escape a terrifying asylum for the insane. Claudia Billie Stræde was the director of this game which started out as a project for the University she was attending. Blackwell’s Asylum was a multiple nominee. It also won Game of the Year and the Adventure/Roleplay category in the Intel Level Up 2011 Game Demo Contest. The game is also interesting becuase it was inspired by true events.

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Claudia was inspired by the written chronicle from Nellie Bly. Bly was a writer who had started her career as a young woman writing; “women’s columns.”  Bly wanted to write about more than cleaning and traveled to New York seeking opportunities. There she pitched the idea of going undercover at a mental hospital to expose what was really happening behind the closed doors of such institutions. For ten days she gained information and stories from other patients. Upon her release Bly wrote down everything in her six-part series called; Ten Days in a Mad-House. This work helped not only expose the crimes of the asylum but also gained more funding for public institutions to try to improve them.

The design of the game is interesting and unsettling. The player starts off, as Nellie, restrained as a doctor drugs them. The player then tries to escape. The coloring of the game is dark and it can make it difficult to determine where in the game the player is.  The effects of the drugs only aid in making the surroundings distorted and confusing.

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There are random shouts and other noises to make it difficult to focus. Blackwell’s Asylum does have a neat effect in which large circles like sonar when footsteps get closer to the player as they sneaking in the darkness. It is the only effect that helps the player with all the distortion. The character design is very well done. The sound effects also aid in the gameplay. 

Blackwell’s Asylum is an interesting first person game of escape.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Review

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Many of us grew up with the beloved television series called Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. This year a new version was released. Based on the comics of the same name a darker, one could say a more chilling, show called The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was an early Halloween gift for us all.

Created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and staring Kiernan Shipka The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina aired on Netflix on October 26, 2018. Sabrina Spellman has a big secret. She is only half-mortal. Sabrina is also half-witch. Her whole life up to this point her family has been preparing her to make a choice that will change her life forever.

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On her sixteenth birthday Sabrina can choose either side but she must choose. She can continue to go to her mortal school and live as a mortal teenager. There are her best friends. Her boyfriend. The movies and the books that she loves. Or she can choose the path that her family has been grooming her for. She can go to an elite school for witches and live as a witch.

Sabrina is torn between both. She loves being a witch. Sabrina has grown up casting spells and being surrounded by magic in her home. She is also very protective of her mortal friends and is unsure if she can leave her life with them. Sabrina is being pulled between these two worlds that she loves. With her birthday drawing closer the pressure is mounting for Sabrina to make her choice.

The assorted cast of characters in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are fantastically written. Witch or mortal these characters bring the viewers into the world that Sabrina dwells in. The characters fleshed out creation help us to believe that we are really their with Sabrina as she fights for the life she wants. The costuming is also an important tool for the show. Every costume tells us about the town and the people who populate it.

Speaking of the town the sets are wonderfully constructed. The Spellman house is actually magical to look at. Every room helps tell a story. Sabrina’s high school serves as neutral ground for Sabrina and her friends. The soundtrack is also well picked to further the story. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into creating the world of Sabrina Spellman.

I would highly recommend watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. It is a fantastic show full of well written characters and plenty of twists.  

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

Review: Visage

Visage

Developer: SadSquare Studio
Publisher: SadSquare Studio
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Early Access Release: 10/2/2018
Expected Full Release: 2/2019

What’s it about?
Visage is an indie psychological horror game from SadSquare Studio. Funded by Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight, Visage is one of the many spiritual successors to Silent Hills P.T. 

Visage can be considered a haunted house game. You are exploring a rather old and large house, attempting to uncover the terrible things that have happened there. As the game is in early access, there is only one chapter available thus far.

What did I think?
After playing through the demo, which is currently available on steam, I can tell you that Visage is a phenomenal game so far. You can certainly tell that the developers have put a lot into this game and have used their Kickstarter funds wisely.

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This game gets intense very quickly. The opening scene can be triggering for some, so proceed with caution. After the jarring beginning, you find yourself in a giant house with almost no direction. You’re meant to explore, to find your own way, however there are tutorials on how to use necessary items.

Visage takes an excellent approach on managing your character’s sanity. You can do one of two things to keep yourself from going insane: take pills or stand in well lit places. The pills are easier to find than well lit places. You also have to find lighters, candles and lightbulbs to help manage your sanity levels.

The story of the first “Visage” is compelling, terrifying and sad. You are uncovering the story of the brutal death of a young girl without a jaw. But you need to be quick about it, or else she’ll kill you for snooping. Your only sign that she’s anywhere near you is her labored breathing.

There are some jump scares in the game, but my favorite thing about Visage are the fake outs. You can hear something and be absolutely certain that it’s right there, just inside the next room. You have no choice but to go in there, terrified. And, when you do, the noise stops and you’re alone. I love the build up of suspense, especially when it doesn’t end in a jump scare.

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Do I recommend it?
Oh, yes, I very much do. Visage is the first horror game to actually frighten me in years. It didn’t just make me jump or feel tense, it actually lingered with me long after I finished playing. I can’t wait to see what the final game looks like. For now, though, check it out on Steam and tell me what you think in the comments below!

Staff Favorites: Horror Games

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Fatal Frame. I vividly remember the first time my brother and I turned out the lights while playing it… That didn’t last long.
– Oresan Fells

 

 

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I would have to say that one of my favorite horror games is Eldritch Horror. It combines two of my favorite things; the Cthulhu mythos and tabletop gaming. Players choose a character and then set off o try to stop the ancient evil from rising. Players are faced with many horrors and even if they win they will probably not leave the game with all of their sanity. Play if you think you are strong enough, if not when then “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” Happy gaming and always keep sparkling!
-Thia the Bard

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I love Alice: Madness Returns because it’s a twisted Alice in Wonderland. Everything is spooky, crazy, and wonderfully dark. You get to stab mobs with knives, smack them with a horse head or fire upon them with a teapot. Plus, you block with an umbrella. Not to mention the costumes.. Steampunk Alice is the best! -Azkadelya

 

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Damn it, Karen, stop writing on the wall

Layers of Fear is my favorite horror game. The story is engaging, the jump scares are minimal, the building terror is enough to make my skin all tingly, and it doesn’t make me motion sick since it’s basically just a walking simulator.
– Vanri The Rogue

 

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Growing up I got this board game called Nightmare. Very early 90s, mind you. A VHS board game and I loved every second of playing it. I made my neighbors play it with me over and over again. We recently played it on stream and I still love this game, no matter how old I am or it is.
– Crymson Pleasure

Review: The Haunting of Hill House (TV Show)

I love horror. Be it movies, books, TV shows.. I want it all. So when I heard that Netflix was going to do a series called The Haunting of Hill House, I could not wait! The day it came to Netflix I started watching it, and I was hooked. None of us are immune to binge watching, but be prepared to not put this one down.

First, let’s do a little history on the show. It is a re-imagining of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 Gothic novel The Haunting of Hill House. This book is one of the best horror stories of the 20th century and isn’t so much about the horror as the terror. To be exact, it wants to make you dread what comes next more than it wants to scare you and gross you out like most in the genre. It was originally adapted into a British movie called The Haunting in 1963 where a group of paranormal investigators investigate Hill House. Most people probably know the 1999 version of The Haunting, starring Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, and Lili Taylor. I know that was my first introduction to this story, and I love that one as well.

This latest version of the original story is terrifyingly surprising. Netflix and creator Mike Flanagan did a superb job creating this masterpiece of terror. I do warn you, there might be some spoilers ahead, so read on if you dare!

The Haunting of Hill House is about a family of 7, the Crain’s, that once lived in Hill House. The children are now grown up and each has their own problems in life that all stem from their time spent there. They have all tried very hard to keep the past in the past, but it’s catching up to them and there is nothing they can do about it. I really don’t want to reveal too much, but each of the 5 children is special in their own way and despite their hardships and differences the family sticks together in the end.

The journey the Crain’s take in this 10 episode season is remarkable. There are moments of love, of pain, of sadness and trust me you will feel all the feels right along with them. There are most definitely jump scares, hidden ghosts, and subtle hints as to what’s really going on. Be prepared for many, many flashbacks that eventually make a lot of sense. The red door is a big part of the plot, as is Mrs. Crain, so keep your eyes on them.

The cast does a tremendous job at portraying their characters and telling you the story of the summer that rules their lives. I would absolutely love to see another season of this in the future. I’m not sure if continuing on with the Crain family’s future would be the way to go, but I’d love to see the story behind the original owners of Hill House and how they became what they were. They don’t play a big part in this story, but they are definitely part of the reason the house is what it is.

I didn’t find this series horrifying and I didn’t get any nightmares from it, but it does seem to truly scare some. So beware if you get easily spooked! The story unfolds at a steady pace, so don’t worry about any slow moments making you wish you were watching something else. In fact, it will probably be over before you are expecting and then you’ll miss the Crain family and all the suspense in their lives.