4: Point and Click Horror Games

For this assignment, I’m investigating point and click games, specifically horror ones. These games vary in their ambition and quality, since most these days are indie games available in places like Steam. They’re also heavily exploration-based—after all, the only thing players can really do is “point” and “click” on their computer screenthough there are plenty of exceptions to this rule (see above photo).

So far, I’ve found—from my own observations, and from researching different games of this genre—that the most interesting aspect of this genre is how immersive it is. While it isn’t surprising in itself that a video game can be immersive, it is interesting that something as simple as a point and click interface can achieve this. So many video game reviews make a point to focus on the gameplay aspect: controls, customization, etc. In this respect, point and click horror games bring nothing new to the table. Since these games don’t worry themselves with fancy gameplay mechanics, though, they have more room to focus on concept, story, and tone.

The main challenge for me with this assignment has been that there isn’t really any formal research on point and click horror games, nor are there many discussions of the genre beyond forum posts asking for recommendations. “Point and click horror games” are, of course, a thing, but they’re not quite a thing. (By which I mean, of course, that they don’t really have a Wikipedia entry…yet.) My findings are mostly based on examples taken from notable games of the genre. As for my “wins” in working on this assignment, I finally have a use for the countless hours I have spent watching YouTubers like Markiplier play horror games. And here I’d thought that time was wasted!

In the literature classes and workshop classes I’ve taken, we often spend some time talking about what makes a book “work”. Are the characters fleshed out and relatable? Is the climax of the story effective? and so on. I find that this sort of analysis is especially useful when determining the common features of point and click horror games. If their gameplay is simplistic and, arguably, outdated, then how do we account for the hundreds of thousands of players downloading these games and sharing them with each other? I figured that there must be more than meets the eye to these games.

The rhetorical triangle in “Among the Audience” is especially useful for a nontraditional genre like mine. It helps to include “viewers” and “listeners” along with readers, since video games are more visual and interactive than, say, an eBook. (Perhaps I would add “players” to this corner of the triangle, if I were to make my own—but arguably, players are a combination of viewers/readers/listeners.) Video games—especially ones like Five Nights at Freddy’s, which I mention in my wiki entry—do not just have one type of audience; there are those who play the games, but also those who watch others play said games, and still others who simply read about the games on gaming websites. Point and click horror games can be consumed in a variety of ways, and Lunsford and Ede’s expanded rhetorical triangle helps to reflect this.


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