Watching other people play video games has been around long before the likes of YouTube and Twitch. A lot of gamers probably remember watching their older siblings, cousins, or even their parents, play video games. Part of the fun was watching someone else experience something, often at their own expense. With the quality of horror games increasing in recent years, it’s really not that shocking to see the meteoric rise of jump-scare videos on YouTube. Now, much like every creepy horror game, let’s dive into the origin story and see where this all started off.
If you’ve been gaming for a while, you’ve no doubt come across the Scary Maze Game, played it, wet your pants, and then tricked your friend into playing it as well. There was a sense of excitement and suspense as you waited patiently for your friend to fall into the trap you so cleverly devised. As they leaned in closer to the screen to get through those pixel-perfect tunnels, we could hardly contain our glee. Then, like a banshee out of hell, the zombie girl would appear and scream, launching your friend backwards and off the chair.
It’s been twelve years since YouTube launched in 2005, and at the time, people were still trying to figure out exactly how to use this new video hosting service. Five years later, when Amnesia: The Dark Descent released, everything started to click together.
PewDiePie might not be everyone’s favorite YouTuber, but there’s no denying the profound effect he’s had on the industry since he first decided to record himself being scared by video games. One of the first playthroughs he ever did was of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and though it lacks a face-cam, the terror in his voice is just as palpable.
People quickly gravitated toward this, both as an audience and as content creators. Viewers love watching other people get scared, and if you’re a content creator, it’s almost like a rite of passage. After the success of Amnesia, there was a swathe of games that used jump-scares specifically as their main horror tool, and YouTubers jump on this – it was a win for content creators and a win for developers.
Another high profile series that has seen continued support and play is Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF). Due to the fixed perspective of FNAF, and the inability to quickly escape, players are often hounded with jump-scares, because the developer knows precisely where they will be looking. And with five games in the series, YouTubers can rely on consistent jump-scares, which is great for the viewer.
And now, as technology gets even better, we’re reaching a new age where jump-scares are becoming even more terrifying thanks to VR technology. Slap on a VR headset and use the Stealth 350VR gaming headset, and any jump-scare is magnified to almost unbearable levels thanks to the Stealth350VR’s 50mm speakers. As we approach Halloween, now is the perfect time to dive into some horror games and scare yourself silly or even find your favorite YouTuber and watch them play some spooky games. What do you think will be the next big step for horror games and the jump-scare YouTube phenomenon?