A group called Vertical Slice has just completed what is without a doubt one of the most unique video game studies to date. The limited study only focused on Xbox 360 titles, presumably because it is the console best known for having the most bone-chilling games on the market. The study involved six subjects who were geared up and monitored as they played through a selection of titles deemed to be among the scariest available on Xbox. This data, combined with a database of complex psychological intel from more than 500 other subjects, allowed Vertical Slice to see how each person's reaction differed from game to game.
The report itself highlighted some interesting findings, including:
- First encounters with enemies tend to be the scariest
- Small numbers of enemies and implied threats are scarier than overt, mass number ones
- Cut-scenes affect casual players and hardcore gamers in different ways
- The grotesque can catalyse shocks, but is not scary in isolation
It also found that Dead Space 2 is the scariest game so far this generation, followed by Condemned, Alan Wake and Resident Evil 5.