Defining the term survival horror

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Defining the term survival horror

Postby PanamaRed » Apr 29, 2013 4:57 pm

After thinking about Mikami´s definition of survival horror and the response of some people over the net claiming that survival horror never died it only shifted to mods and indie studios I still ponder about the definition of survival horror and if such a genre even exists in the first place. According to Mikami a survival horror has to be scary but it also has to give you a thrill by allowing the players to defeat the horror(presumably by using weapons to defend yourself). There has to be a balance of both and I would like to put an emphasis on being able to defeat the horror because this means that to Mikami a game that has no weapons or means to defend yourself is not pure survival horror. He also puts a note on low resources. This would just mean that games like Amnesia or similar games that feature no combat whatsoever and games like Dead Space are not really survival horror games but just plain horror games or action horror.

Now the really interesting part starts because I know there is people that would seriously debate this last claim. They would just say something like how is Amnesia not a survival horror game if you are trying to survive a haunted castle. Similar thing with Dead Space. All of this just makes me wonder what the true definition of survival horror really is. Seems to be that depending on the person the definition of survival horror can vary a lot. Is it even fair to call it a genre? Who should we believe? Mikami, the general public, wikipedia?

Thoughts?
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Re: Defining the term survival horror

Postby Yama » Apr 29, 2013 5:13 pm

As it was described back in '96, "Conserve to survive." That has always been the genres most defining element, the split second decision to evade or eliminate. Obviously other elements such as atmosphere, puzzles, scare factor, etc. play a part in lending itself to this genre, though at it's core, I do feel that is what matters most.
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Re: Defining the term survival horror

Postby PanamaRed » Apr 29, 2013 5:25 pm

Yama wrote:As it was described back in '96, "Conserve to survive." That has always been the genres most defining element, the split second decision to evade or eliminate. Obviously other elements such as atmosphere, puzzles, scare factor, etc. play a part in lending itself to this genre, though at it's core, I do feel that is what matters most.


Interesting. So would you say that games like Amnesia and Slender do not qualify as survival horror?
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Re: Defining the term survival horror

Postby Spera01 » Apr 29, 2013 6:08 pm

Horror games always needs to have that "survival" element in them to be considered "Survival Horror" in my opinion. As Yama put it, you need to think about how you're going to survive and conserve what you have. Is it smart to use that healing item when you barely took any damage? Is it wise to waste that bullet on an enemy instead of attempting to run around it? That's survival horror to me. Being able to defend yourself is another huge aspect of the gameplay. You're not totally helpless like in a lot of other horror games today. So with that, I definitely agree with what Mikami said.

Games like Amnesia don't have that "survival" element in them. The most you can do is run and hide from the enemy in those games. The first Dead Space on harder difficulties I guess could be considered survival horror but ultimately, the series is more action horror.

PanamaRed wrote:
Yama wrote:As it was described back in '96, "Conserve to survive." That has always been the genres most defining element, the split second decision to evade or eliminate. Obviously other elements such as atmosphere, puzzles, scare factor, etc. play a part in lending itself to this genre, though at it's core, I do feel that is what matters most.


Interesting. So would you say that games like Amnesia and Slender do not qualify as survival horror?

I wouldn't myself. I'd say those games are just more straight up horror.There's no strategic element to them, you just simply run from the monster when you see it. You don't really have to think about your items/health/ammunition all that much.
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Re: Defining the term survival horror

Postby Yama » Apr 30, 2013 1:29 am

PanamaRed wrote:
Yama wrote:As it was described back in '96, "Conserve to survive." That has always been the genres most defining element, the split second decision to evade or eliminate. Obviously other elements such as atmosphere, puzzles, scare factor, etc. play a part in lending itself to this genre, though at it's core, I do feel that is what matters most.


Interesting. So would you say that games like Amnesia and Slender do not qualify as survival horror?

No, I see them as horror titles.

It's funny how any title that bares similarities suddenly becomes the genre nowadays. I remember back when Silent Hill was announced, it was made clear that it was the opposite of Survival Horror and dubbed Terror Horror. I think each sub genre that derives from horror titles have their own focus, Survival Horror's being the previously mentioned adage. I feel the term only became so widely used (and abused) because of Biohazard's popularity.
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