As the emotional palette of video games expanded in the mid-Nineties, the horror genre flourished. It brought variation on the familiar themes of performance anxiety, adrenaline rush, and achievement that had been the interactive motor behind Mario, Sonic, Madden, DOOM, and Quake.
Flipping the constant-adrenaline-feed model on its head, games like Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, System Shock, and Silent Hill put players in claustrophobic environments with controls that often made players feel helpless and vulnerable.
In recent years, though, the horror genre has encountered some cultural drift. Games like Resident Evil 5 and BioShock 2 still sell millions, but the spark of emotional ingenuity that made SHODAN, Lisa Trevor, and Pyramid Head so terrifyingly memorable seems to have diffused beneath a veneer of action and multiplayer modes.