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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!

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: Layers of Fear (Part 2 – ENDING)

Review: Layers of Fear (Part 2 – ENDING)

Yesterday, I finally finished Layers of Fear. After just over 2.5 hours of playing, I was not disappointed!

**This Review Contains Spoilers!**

What’s the second half about?
In the second half, you’re trying to find the remaining items you need to finish your painting. Since the game is not finished, there are only 4 items to find. In the first half, I found skin for the canvas and a vial of blood for the paint. In this half, I found a bone, which was to be ground up into dust for painting and priming, and a lock of hair for the brush. This half of the game featured dolls pretty heavily, since the final items both had to do with the main character’s daughter.

What did I think?
This game is absolutely stunning. The graphics are amazing, but I was most impressed by the constant changing of the house. In the first half, we saw that going through the same door may not lead to the same results. In this half, they stepped it up a notch. They were changing my surroundings while I was turning around, sometimes to the point where looking out the window allowed the whole room to be changed around me.

The jump scares in the second half are even scarier than the ones in the first half. You’re turning around to find dolls, ghosts and all sorts of scary things behind you, above you or beside you. You’re opening doors to find massive doll heads blocking your way. It’s absolutely terrifying.

The ending was nothing to get excited about, since the game isn’t finished. You’re basically walking down a hallway and the game cuts to black and lets you know that that’s all there is right now. I can’t wait for more updates. I can’t wait for the game to be finished.

Would I still recommend it?
Oh, hell yes. Buy this game. Play this game. Scream at this game. Just play it. It’s absolutely amazing. I’m not ready for it to be over and I can’t wait for more content.

Watch me play it here, here, here and here!

-Vanri the Rogue

Review: Layers of Fear (Part 1)

Review: Layers of Fear (Part 1)

Developer: Bloober Team SA
Platforms: PC, Xbox
Released: Aug 27, 2015

Layers of Fear is an early access, indie horror game created by Bloober Team SA. I watched a good amount of game play after it was first released and found it to be absolutely stunning. Because of this, I decided to play it for myself (and for all of you).

What’s it about?
Layers of Fear is a psychological horror game that follows a once-successful painter as he attempts to finish his pièce de résistance. You explore his ever-changing house, looking for the six items that will allow you to finish your painting. Along the way, you delve into the demented mind of the main character; you discover notes and newspaper articles that tell the story of this artist and his family; and you experience strange and paranormal phenomena.

What did I think?
I’ve only finished about a third of the game so far, so I can only give you my thoughts on the beginning. As I play more, however, I will be posting more about what I think.

That being said, this game is stunning. It is surprisingly easy to play for not being completed. The graphics are amazing, the story is thorough and creepy and the jump scares are absolutely terrifying.

The amount of exploration in the game can become a bit tedious. There are some notes and newspaper clippings in a few drawers, so you end up having to open every single drawer and cabinet in order to find them. And there are drawers and cabinets all over the place. In this aspect, it’s a lot like Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

Unlike Amnesia: The Dark Descent, however, there’s a lot more happening in this game. While the exploration part of it might be a little boring, the game itself is not. It kept me on my toes, which kept me interested. This game genuinely scares me, which is the highest compliment I can give a horror game.

Do I recommend it?
Oh, yes. You can find it on Steam for $12.99. It’s definitely worth the money.

-Vanri the Rogue