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The Value of Uncertainty in Horror Games - Part 2: Negative Space

DreamDawn writes: Another interesting trait of horror games is that the exact same logic is often applied to the narrative. Horror game narratives are vine-like, twisting and turning in ways that you don't expect. Suspense is the feeling of knowing that something is coming but not knowing what, or when, it will arrive; this is true whether the suspense is generated by a static-emitting radio radar, a long staircase that seems to go impossibly deep into the ground, or the suggestion that an ancient curse may still be in effect. If the player knows what's going to happen ahead of time, the feeling of tension is lost; as with the mechanics obfuscation, it is necessary to hide details of the story from the player so that they are forced to operate with incomplete information. They are not in control.

There are many names for this approach, but my favorite is negative space. In this context, the term describes the bits of the story that are never explicitly communicated to the player. If we write a complete narrative down on index cards, with one event per card, and then pour the whole lot on the table, the cards that land face down are in the negative space.

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