There’s something about sitting in a darkened room, guiding your character through an eerie forest at night just waiting – hoping – for something to jump out and scare the hell out of you. There’s something very attractive about scenarios that make you feel like you could die at any moment. It’s a stark contrast to what a lot of top selling video games promote. Where many FPS games will cast you as a rugged, heroic, killing machine, horror games usually make you feel very vulnerable indeed. They touch you on a very primitive level.
I figure the horror genre is so popular because it manages to consistently provoke emotional responses from the audience, whereas action genres seem to have a tougher time to get us to sympathise or empathise with the protagonists, especially after so many years of desensitisation from explosions, bullet wounds and instances of heroically saving the man that was left behind.
The past decade has seen some excellent horror video games, the stand out ones for me were Alan Wake, Dead Space, Condemned and F.E.A.R 2. All of these managed to completely immerse me in the ongoing story, with great characterisation and original mechanics.
I just wish that other genres of games were as interesting.