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[PATV] Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - Extra Credits Season 5, Ep. 11: Horror Protagonists

DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
edited October 2012 in The Penny Arcade Hub

image[PATV] Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - Extra Credits Season 5, Ep. 11: Horror Protagonists

This week, we talk about the importance of protagonists in the horror genre (and wear costumes).
Come discuss this topic in the forums!

Read the full story here


Dog on
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Posts

  • ArmaArma Registered User
    Great episode! Love the halloween specials and wish you guys would talk about horror more often.

  • So, besides James Sunderland, what are good examples of a Type 3 protagonist in video games?

  • willonicwillonic Registered User new member
    To respond to Russano_Greenstripe, a very good Type 3 example from a corner you wouldn't expect is the main protagonist from Spec Ops: The Line. First looking like a Third Person COD/BF/MoH ripoff, it's actually a more psychological horror in a sense.

    Hawkmoon269RMS Oceanic
  • Hawkmoon269Hawkmoon269 Registered User regular
    I agree with willonic, the protagonist from Spec Ops: The Line is a great example of type 3, which is pretty cool, considering the game isn't *really* supposed to be a horror game.

  • itsarandomencounteritsarandomencounter Registered User new member
    What I like about the third type of protagonist is not what it tell us about ourselves (well I like that too, but not as much) but rather the the feelings it invokes as it creates a conflict between ourselves as a reflective being and as a being with self. The conflict of not wanting to posess the self that contains theese qualities that we as reflective beings can find cruel or just evil. So far really few games have been able to pull that off in my opnion (Silent Hill 2 and Spec Ops: The Line did it beautifully)

  • The Doc CCThe Doc CC Registered User regular
    @Russano: The Nameless One, PlaneScape: Torment, Captain Walker, Spec Ops: the Line, Cheryl Mason's memories, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, and in a sense the protagonist of Shadow of the Collossus.

    Three of those games are not considered horror, though PS:T had some stunningly horrific elements in it (lifted straight out of the source material) and SO:tL was a hell of a lot closer to truly deep horror than most games which claim to be survival horror. In a sense, Platoon is more horrifying than "horror" movies. Finally, in Shadow of the Colossus, the protagonist's unquestioning obedience and corruption add in that horror element.

    Shattered Memories mixed terribly ineffectual enemies that could not evoke much fear with adult fears. It foundered at horror by failing to mix our visceral fear of injury and being maimed or killed with its themes of abandonment, sexual frustration, and so on. That's what made SH2 so effective as a horror game. It mixed fear for your life in with these other fears.

  • navalinknavalink Registered User
    you guys are doing a great services to the games industry and gamers community. I am looking forward to a more educated gamers and developers. You are taking big part of this new wave of gamers, asking to feel, gain more of their virtual adventures. You will have my gratitude for ever.

    sincerely Damien Coughanour. (military game advisor)

  • SeyrenSeyren Registered User
    @Russano How about the protagonist from Bioshock? I never saw that twist coming.

  • WolvenSpectreWolvenSpectre Registered User regular
    I would submit there is a fourth type. Where the protagonist triumphs/survives the ordeal and ultimately wins for himself and others, but looses so much in the process that it may have been better if he hadn't.

    At first glance this sounds like it is part of the type three, but I put forward that there are occasions where the protagonist could do all the right/good/justified things and did not know or give in to the internal conflicts of a Type 3.

    An example of this was the "contagious madness" movies of the mid to late 70's where a small group of people or an individual, gets chased and attacked by small throngs of local/regional people they know who have gone bloodthurstingly mad. Most of the time in these movies the individual is hiding/running until they have to fight there way to run for help. In the end those who survive find that the madness is catchy and as they ran from place to place they unknowingly infected the people in the area, especially those they knew, and if they had just found a place and turtled they and most of the people in the area would have been safe.

    In that example the protagonist, usually not who you thought it was in the beginning of those movies, would go half mad with guilt no matter how understandable and righteous their actions were during the escape. In the movies and the one story I have read with this theme, usually everyone who knows the protagonist keeps harping about what heroes they are making things only worse. It is as if the true horror is the surviving.

    If I remember one of the Night of the Lepus Movies was like this as well.

    MagmarFire
  • Carr0tCarr0t Registered User
    edited October 2012
    Hopefully related enough, I can't seem to view today's Extra Credits on PATV. The video loaded fine (i.e. I could see the first frame) when I first tried (about 09:30 GMT) but then I was distracted by other things and didn't actually buffer/watch it. Came back to it at around 10:30 and tried to buffer. Video timed out. Tried twice on this machine and once on another using 2 different browsers. The rest of the page loads fine but the video frame itself times out and gives me an error message that blip.tv is taking too long to respond.

    Is this something that appears to be local to my ISP (University), or are others experiencing this too? I'm in the UK, in case it's somehow geographically related.

    Carr0t on
  • NKnightNKnight Registered User
    Carr0t > It's not a local problem. I'm experiencing the same thing and I'm in Brazil. I believe it is something with their servers. It should be fixed after some time.

  • Peter EbelPeter Ebel CopenhagenRegistered User regular
    Video is also down for me.

    Fuck off and die.
  • DBSLAYER7DBSLAYER7 Registered User
    "Yikes!" Blip likes to troll us while its format fails.

  • theheadofabroomtheheadofabroom LondonRegistered User
    Keep checking on http://www.isitdownrightnow.com/blip.tv.html - it's down for everyone right now

  • skobvsskobvs Registered User
    Other sites that are down right now report being offline due to hurricane Sandy, so perhaps Blips downtime has something to do with that?

  • ictoosictoos Registered User
    Define moment. . . .

  • TheRealCJTheRealCJ Registered User
    Guys, Blip is actually based in New York, so don't expect it to be up and running anytime soon.

  • toaster_pimptoaster_pimp Registered User regular
    daaaaamn u hurricane saaaandy! the world just got a little bit smaller for me.

  • Peter EbelPeter Ebel CopenhagenRegistered User regular
    TheRealCJ wrote: »
    Guys, Blip is actually based in New York, so don't expect it to be up and running anytime soon.

    There goes my hours and hours of distractions.

    Fuck off and die.
  • ZeraphaelZeraphael PDXRegistered User regular
    Back up for me just now.

    fs_f4aaa2c905a534c3966d53bf5d2639c9.png
  • ZPowersZPowers Registered User
    @Russano another type 3 from a game that's more clearly a horror game than most of the others mentioned would be Daniel from Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

  • MoonmanMoonman Registered User regular
    Okay, I have serious SERIOUS issues with this video:

    Toph is BLIND! She wouldn't have been horrified at him taking his head off. She would have SEEN it. She also wouldn't have been able to to see the helmet being thrown at her, let alone catch it. If you can't commit to the roll, don't play the character!

    This is such a deep betrayal I...I don't...I'm just not sure if I can trust anything Extra Credits has to say anymore...

    banner02.gif
    OgreSamanosukeaniforprezglenngunnerzeroR3DT1D3MagmarFire
  • garyklineccgaryklinecc Registered User regular
    Loved LeeLee's expressions during the intro! Started my day off on a happy note. :)

  • Roman_ImperialRoman_Imperial Registered User
    Just a little clarification is in order, methinks. Though I am by no means an expert, merely a horror enthusiast.

    Horror is the feeling of revulsion after an event has taken place, while terror is the feeling of dread before an event.

    And it's not that much of a wonder to see how the hero/heroine is generally overlooked when studying horror, for the focus of the genre itself is drawn to the monster. Heck, even our own focus is drawn to the monster.

    A monster is a nexus of fear. The more fears you can stuff into a single body, the more monstrous it becomes. To quote "Skin Shows" by Judith Halberstam, "The monster's body, indeed, is a machine that, in its Gothic mode, produces meaning and can represent any horrible trait that the reader feeds into the narrative...Monsters are meaning machines. They can represent gender, race, nationality, class, and sexuality in one body. And even within these divisions of identity, the monster can still be broken down" (Halberstam, 27-28). On the other hand, the hero/heroine tends to be a sort of bland straw man, something the audience automatically identifies with -- as Extra Credits pointed out -- so that the audience can better experience horror. Which, of course, is the entire purpose of the genre.

    PS: If you really like horror and you haven't read "Skin Shows," I highly recommend it.

  • Thanatos2kThanatos2k Registered User regular
    This quite easily explains why Dead Space is not scary.

    RyanGattsBobtoad1
  • MagmarFireMagmarFire Registered User regular
    Troll harder, @Moonman. It was realistic in the sense that it was a NATURAL RESPONSE to whatever was inside the helmet.

  • Adam MeyersAdam Meyers Registered User new member
    Have you read "I am Not a Serial Killer"? From what I hear, it combines several of the protagonist types into one, and is pretty good.

  • weeshweesh Registered User new member
    Playing "spec ops the line", I very nearly vomited during the cut scene after the white phosphorus mortar. I was do disgusted with myself. Would you call that a horror element?

  • OHMYGOSH TEDDIE COSTUME

    But on another note, I was wondering how a horror game would feel if you played as something not human. Like a rabbit, or a shadow or some such thing, something not human but not powerful either.

    Steam: The Magnificent ManCooker PSN: Magic|Man|Cooker
  • RazaxxRazaxx Registered User regular
    I think that with technology evolving so quickly, the horror genre has huge potential. I think that this technology can open more doors than for other genres, but it will also increase the potential for failure.
    What I mean is that new tech can really bring the genre down in a huge element of horror: imagination. Unless the Devs can learn to TRUST it's player base, then everything would be spelled out for us. For me the biggest part of horror is stepping around a corner and knowing that I could be easily destroyed. The biggest fear is not of anything that I can see, it is what I can't.
    The way that this tech will improve the genre, however, is by cutscenes. I am NOT an advocate for cutscenes in RPGs or any other type of game really, but with horror it can work really well. With "protagonist as monster," we see how, when we have control, we work our hardest towards a happy end. With cutscenes, especially non-skip-able ones, it delivers the feeling of powerlessness. To see what you have created ripped away by your character can really be disheartening.
    I might be too old to dress up, but I am certainly not too mature...
    Halloween is almost over, so it is basically Christmas!

  • SynraSynra Registered User regular
    @The Magnificent ManCooker

    On that note, I recently had a game idea like you describe. The idea is that you play the fox in a fox hunt. Just a little critter desperately running for your life as you hide and evade the dogs and hunters. Ultimately, the chances of successfully escaping are slim. That in my mind could make for a good scary game if done well.

  • SpyMaster356SpyMaster356 Registered User new member
    Is Alison dressed up as Red Riding Riven?

  • mekman 2mekman 2 a goober Registered User regular
    I learned a lot about myself playing Half-Life one, that temptation to just (intentionally) kill (one) an innocent scientist/bystander and the feeling that followed. The fact that I could and there was no rewind or consequences, just me and my feelings. That was special, that made me feel "connected." There's more to Half-Life but that was definitely something special.

  • CronoDroidCronoDroid Registered User
    This is why I think Spec Ops: The Line was so great, because it played a lot like a horror game. The setting was excellent and while you were a professional ass-kicker who had no problem mowing down hordes of soldiers, it helped strengthen the fact that the protagonist was the real monster.

    I think a modern military/police horror game WITHOUT the fantastical elements would be really effective if done right.

    Archsorcerer
  • GundiGundi Serious Bismuth Registered User regular
    I would submit there is a fourth type. Where the protagonist triumphs/survives the ordeal and ultimately wins for himself and others, but looses so much in the process that it may have been better if he hadn't.
    I would say this is variant of a type two. Sure, they don't literally succumb to the monster but their lives are ultimately destroyed by it.

    Silent Hill loves Type 3 protagonists, even if they don't always do them very well. For example, Silent Hill:Shattered Memories, a game I feel doesn't get enough love despite its flaws, has a protagonist who is both immediately sympathetic but also deeply unsettling with hidden desires and emotions we can't help but label as wrong. Now, who this protagonist is I won't tell because that would be a massive spoiler.

  • likalarukulikalaruku Registered User regular
    I never associate with the protagonists & I rarely care if they live or die.

  • Twenty SidedTwenty Sided Registered User regular
    edited November 2012
    Gundi wrote: »
    I would submit there is a fourth type. Where the protagonist triumphs/survives the ordeal and ultimately wins for himself and others, but looses so much in the process that it may have been better if he hadn't.
    I would say this is variant of a type two. Sure, they don't literally succumb to the monster but their lives are ultimately destroyed by it.

    Silent Hill loves Type 3 protagonists, even if they don't always do them very well. For example, Silent Hill:Shattered Memories, a game I feel doesn't get enough love despite its flaws, has a protagonist who is both immediately sympathetic but also deeply unsettling with hidden desires and emotions we can't help but label as wrong. Now, who this protagonist is I won't tell because that would be a massive spoiler.

    No, the fans who make bad sequels like Type 3 protagonists because every Silent Hill game has to be Silent Hill 2.

    SH1, SH3 and SH4 all have Type 1 protagonists for the good endings (and arguably Type 2 for the bad). They're all heroes who triumph (for the most part).

    This is a touchy topic for me because Silent Hill is supposed to be about a cursed town. The humans are supporting cast, with the exception of James. The games are more about learning the secrets of Silent Hill and less about some guy's personal purgatory.

    This is the single biggest reason why the sequels are bad. The town's story has been told and now everybody is trying to do knock-off versions of James's story. Konami is doing what companies always do, which is to whore the franchise.

    Twenty Sided on
  • AurichAurich Registered User regular
    Silent Hill 3: "They look like monsters to you?"

    That was a pretty :O moment.

  • Twenty SidedTwenty Sided Registered User regular
    edited November 2012
    Actually, now that I think about it, the Silent Hill games are the biggest reason that I disagree with the thesis that the protagonist is somehow essential to horror.

    Yes, the player needs to feel relatively helpless and weak, but the character he's controlling doesn't have to be well-fleshed out. Amnesia is one good example of this. Granted, part of this is because first-person horror games don't need it.

    Often, the setting and antagonist are more important characters than the protagonist. This isn't really surprising since horror protagonists have to react to whatever conflict is dropped in their lap.

    Twenty Sided on
    blueshoals
  • JetstopiaJetstopia Registered User new member
    I have recently started making my own games using RPG Maker and during my time using it have come across some very interesting games.

    The Witch’s House is an awesome representation of what a horror game can be and it is done with 16bit graphic quality. It’s a small game (2 or 3 hours) that I finished last night (bad choice). The whole time I was watching this episode I was thinking back to the experience and checking off the boxes.

    I have come to trust the Extra Credits analysis of games (and they have helped me a great deal in developing my own games) and realised The Witch’s House was such a good experience because of all the things this episode says it should do.

    I highly recommend downloading it and having a crack, I challenge anyone to have the nerve to knock it over in one sitting.
    http://vgboy.dabomstew.com/other/witchhouse.htm

    EtarnalazureLovely
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