You know, when I was a kid, i steered away from spooky games. Even anything mildly spooky was too much for me. But sometimes, things would slip through the cracks. I’d pick up a game that looked incredibly innocent but would contain something that would haunt my dreams. To this day, the drowning music from early Sonic the Hedgehog games still sends an uncomfortable chill down my spine. Or clipping through a level only to see the eternal darkness of the unmapped void.
And as I grew older, I began to sort of revel in this. Horror games fascinated me, but games that weren’t scary in the least but still had terrifying things in them? Even better. And I’m not just talking about that one piano in Super Mario 64. Even though it was terrifying. I’m talking about things in otherwise completely innocent games that just… Happen. Without explanation or being elaborated on. So let’s take a look at a few interesting examples.
The first example comes from the (in)famous MMO title, Second Life. Primarily known for letting you live the virtual life you always wanted through an avatar living in a weirdly mundane world where people charge way too much for virtual items, virtual crime was rife. Usually, rules weren’t too strictly adhered to. But when they were, it got a little… Weird.
One user, Nimrod Yaffle, recounts what happened to him after receiving an email from Linden Lab, the developer of the game, informing him that he had been sent to a place called ‘The Corn Field’.
“I thought it was a joke,” he told Tony Walsh in an interview about the mysterious prison server, “I never even knew it existed before I went there, and by the looks of it, a lot of other people didn’t either.”
The Corn Field is, essentially, a location cut off entirely from the rest of the game. It’s one large area filled with rows of corn, a tractor that can be ridden, even though it moves quite slowly, and two TV sets. The TV sets even went as far as to show the full length 1940’s film, ‘Boy In Court’, about a teenager on probation. A delightfully ham-fisted message to those stuck in this endless, unsettling corn field.
When Yaffle made any attempt to leave, he found it was only a one way portal to come in, and not to go out. Any attempts to communicate with main servers were cut off. Being intuitive, Yaffle thought perhaps he could crash the server, causing the game to boot him to the nearest spawn zone. But even that didn’t work, as he soon found he couldn’t even spawn items.
Of course, this was written ten years ago when The Corn Field was a place of mystery and rumor. Nowerdays, anyone can go there for funsies, which kind of ruins the magic.
Psychonauts was something of an oddity at release, but later found amazing critical reception and even a Kickstarted sequel. And rightfully so. It was a delightfully quirky little game full of innovative ideas, fun gameplay, and a wonderful little turtle named Mr. Pokeylope.
There were quite a few strange bits and pieces in the game, for sure. A lot of things could stand out to a lot of people, but overall, it was a positive but weird game about a bunch of psychic kids in their weird psychic summer camp being instructed by their also weird psychic teachers. I mean, it’s not normal, but let’s just say that as far as this unique scenario goes, it’s as normal as it’s going to get.
That is, until you entered the teaching level of Milla, taking place inside her mind (again, it’s normal, don’t ask too many questions). Her mind is an eternal party/tutorial level where you can get a grip on some of the basic elements of gameplay and have a rockin’ time in an eternal vibrant 60s world.
Unless you began to explore a little too much.
At that point, locked away in a dark corner of her mind, you’d find her dark past. Milla once ran an orphanage which, unfortunately, burned down. With all the children under her care inside. Should you peek into this chest of nightmares, you’re confronted with a flaming room and the voices of children saying ‘save us!’ and ‘why did you let us die!’
So that’s a thing!
Finally, there’s this… Thing. A real oddity, not just of gaming, but of Youtube. So I’m not sure how much of this is the game just being creepy and how much of it is Youtube as a whole. In the data files of Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom on Xbox, you can find the video for an unused version of the introduction to Scooby Doo: Night of 100 Frights. Sounds innocent, if not a little weird, right?
Well… Watch the video.
You might notice a few oddities. Things such as the progress bar for the video always stopping at roughly 1:04 and then buffering. The audio will always be weirdly out of sync. When prompted for comment, the uploader of the video, Funlunde, will only reply with ‘It started to spread. :)’, or something equally ominous.
So, that leaves us with the question: What completely innocent game have you played that left you 100% creeped out by something? I’d love to know!