I know this whole month, ya know minus the multiple days I’ve sadly missed, have been primarily about things that are truly terrifying, unnerving, and all around spoopy. However, since I have only two days left to work with and only one day left till the spoopiest day of the year, I figured I’d tackle something different.
There are many tropes in modern day video games that have become overused, one of which is the classic Jump Scare.
Jump Scares, you know that moment when you when the music either flares up or simmers down just moments after an intense musical score, are typically the sudden events right after. The intense screech of the string section followed by.. BOOM! A random monster, person, or object falls in front of you, scaring the piss out of you quicker than a toddler just after changing diapers.
Except, it’s not scary. At least not as much as intended.
The whole ‘unexpected movement’ of a jump scare is so well telegraphed, so easily debunked and analyzed that it loses all fear factor. That music change I talked about?
That is the first and most obvious sign. You notice that building as soon as the scare is about to drop, as it were. The musical score is laced with tones that normally set people on edge. They burrow into your subconscious to make you feel uneasy, and no matter how many times you hear them, you can’t avoid the sudden spike in adrenaline.
Even after identifying it for what it is, the sound still has the same desired effect, but to a somewhat lesser extent. Strip away that sound, go in the situation blind and let that same scene play out. You’re probably only moderately as scared as if you compared it to your first attempt. Sure the sudden jump of something from the darkness is, in and of itself, nerve-wracking but not to the point that video games and movies try to make it out to be.
Hell, there is even a game called Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion and only a small part of it is actually spoopy. It’s essentially a parody of the overused trope, while still proving that when you amp up the horrific imagery and other set pieces it still works.
I guess what I am saying is if I could remove one trope from gaming, it would have to be Jump Scares. The creator of false tension and perpetrator of ‘easy scares’. Sorry Jump Scares, you’re just not spoopy enough. You are a gimmick and have officially made my non-spoop list. So congrats, I guess, for being so mediocre it hurts.