Marmite, spread, kitchen, jar, brown, toast, bread, knife

Horror: the Marmite of video games

It might be Halloween, but Ben has a love-hate relationship with video games in the horror genre. Here he explains why he thinks of them like Marmite.

Ben says…

Halloween is upon us and so horror games once again enjoy their month in the spotlight. It’s a genre usually considered to be like Marmite – either loved or hated – but I believe there’s a much greyer boundary between the two extremes. From a personal perspective, my initial reaction to an announcement of a new horror title is to avoid them. The time I have available to play games is precious and I’d much rather be entertained with some rollicking action or by losing myself in an epic yarn than have the bejeezus scared out of me.

Then again, it’s also worth remembering that what scares one person doesn’t necessarily scare another. However it’s the games that frighten the majority that will ultimately succeed. This is where Marmite strikes again as some will want to try every release to see which scare, while others (like me) will just avoid them all.

As a result, I haven’t played many games that are considered classics of their type. Dead Space, Alien: Isolation, P.T., Fatal Frame, Five Nights at Freddy’s and System Shock 2 never crossed my path, all of which through choice. Does it make me less of a gamer? Of course not. Games, like any form of art (and they are art by the way – but that’s one for another day), will always offer up products that players will naturally love or hate. More Marmite moments.

That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the horror games I’ve played, despite my Marmite aversion. I consider Resident Evil 4 to be one of the greatest titles ever made; BioShock manages to blend horror, story and action seamlessly; and Dead Rising gave me an adrenaline rush like no other. Let’s also not forget the night Team Junkfish challenged me to get through Monstrum… watch my screams in the video above.

So I find myself in the grey area between love and hate. On one hand I avoid horror games, yet when I do spread some Marmite on my gaming toast I find I quite like it. I suspect I’m not alone.

Want to know something really scary? I’ve managed to get the word Marmite into every paragraph. Spooky.

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One thought on “Horror: the Marmite of video games”

  1. When you think about it, horror is one of the most subjective genres in the entire medium. This is because not everyone is scared of the same things, or they might prove to not be as susceptible to them as their peers. Because horror games rely on such a subjective trait, their perceived quality tends to be the most variable; it could be amazing to one person, but mediocre or even flat-out bad to another (I think the same could be said of games that are emotional overloads, but they aren’t usually pigeonholed into a single genre). As a counterexample, they’re not like platforming games where one can point to material, objective traits such as controls, challenge, or level design and declare the experience good or bad based on those. In those cases, the likelihood of detractors (or defenders if it’s a bad game) showing up is much lower.

    I see Resident Evil 4 as more of a horror-flavored action game than a true survival horror. Whatever the case may be, it’s amazing. It’s a game that actually lives up to the heaps of praise critics and fans have given it. After having experienced certain other ones that failed to do so, it’s something I’ve become more appreciative of over the years.

    Liked by 2 people

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