Scaring Us Silly: How VR is Making Horror More Realistic Than Ever

GIZMODO, JANUARY 30, 2017

Games developers and film-makers have been creating spine-chilling experiences within the horror genre for decades. Combining haunting soundtracks, shadowy threats, elements of surprise, otherworldly aliens, unsteady found-footage camerawork, grotesque imagery and so much more to scare us silly on big and small screens alike.

But now the immersive possibilities of virtual reality is opening even more doors. The nature of VR tech allows those working in entertainment to create even scarier experiences, because they engage more of our senses, turning us into active participants rather than passive players or audience members. Therefore they feel more realistic than ever before.

There are already some interesting examples of virtual reality in the world of film. A new gory project from Anthony C. Ferrante (the guy behind Sharknado) made headlines last year, complimentary VR experiences were built for the likes of Paranormal Activity and Insidious, and then Scott Stewart teamed up with Seth Green to create Holidays. And that’s just to name a few.

And itโ€™s the same story in gaming. Over the past few months, a handful of games developers have released titles that push the horror genre to its limits in virtual reality, like Resident Evil 7 and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood.

As the tech advances, more studios are likely to experiment with VR tech to craft scarier experiences and keep horror fans hooked. But what is it that makes a more immersive experience more horrifying? And crucially, should we tread carefully when it comes to scaring people out of their wits in a virtual world that studies suggest in many ways feels just as real as the physical one?

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