In this entertaining and informative account, journalist and horror enthusiast Mark Butler charts the origins, evolution and impact of horror video games, discussing
groundbreaking classics, big-selling blockbusters and overlooked gems along the way. From point-and-click ghost-stories to monster-packed action fests; from the survival-horror boom to psychological masterpieces: the story of video game horror over the past 30 years is explored with passion and flair by a dedicated fan of the genre.
Title: Interactive Nightmares – A History of Video Game Horror | Author: Mark Butler | Publisher: N/A | Pub. Date: July 20th, 2011 | Pages: 88 | ASIN: B005DRXS22 | Genre: Non-Fiction | Language: English | Source: Purchased | Starred
Interactive Nightmares: A History of Video Game Horror Review
Interactive Nightmares is a fairly in-depth look at the horror gaming industry from as far back as 1972 with Haunted House on the Magnavox Odyssey and in 1982 with a game of the same name for the Atari 2600. I even found some games in it that I hadn’t heard of before. They’ve been added to my Eyeball List. I’m always looking for horror games to add to my collection and I’m always on the watch (and I could kick my own ass for letting some of them get away from me when I had them).
Interactive Nightmares was laid out in a nice, chronological line and was very easy to follow through the years. The sections on Resident Evil and Silent Hill are pretty lengthy and very interesting. It’s set up in a review/recap style as he moves through the different gaming eras. They’re very thorough with the recaps and I actually had to skip some, especially towards the end of the book as I ran into some games that I hadn’t played yet.
I can’t agree more with the observations made toward the end of the book. He comments that Triple A publishers started playing it safe and gravitating to action titles with a flair of horror rather than push the creative boundaries. I have said (and will continue to say until Triple A’s stop losing their damn minds) that the Playstation One and 2 eras were the height of creativity. Not just in horror gaming (although that suffered the most) but in all genres across the board. When the 3 came out (I’m a Sony kind of gal, so that’s my main frame of reference) and the next phase of Call of Duty swept the scene companies got scared. Not just because of Call of Duty but also because physical sales were declining and the PC was becoming the platform of choice for competitive gamers. Couple that with a not-great economy and other factors game companies got scared and started playing it safe.
Interactive Nightmares was published in 2011 so there is a small mention of indies possibly being the new bastion of horror gaming but it came out before horror really got another breath of life into it, mostly thanks to indies and YouTubers.
I wish the author would write another book covering the years after 2011. It was an interesting read and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversational but informative tone of the book. If you’re wanting a look at horror’s start in the video game sphere I highly recommend it.
You can purchase a copy of this book via your normal retailer, but please consider purchasing it from a local indie bookshop instead. It can be found here at Indiebound or at Bookshop. Please note the Bookshop link is an affiliate link and each purchase you make through it helps to support Sci-Fi & Scary and keep the site running.
If you’d like to also check out a brief (very brief) look at horror from the last decade you can check out my list here: Best Horror Games of the Decade
GracieKat was the first co-host of Sci-Fi & Scary, Lilyn’s partner-in-crime, and sub-head of the Kali Krew. She reviews horror books, movies, and games for the site. She also does a weekly Focus on the Frightful feature, and is the site list-maker. She is also in control of the Sci-Fi & Scary podcast which will relaunch soon.
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