Tonight, Halloween night, isn't just for trick-or-treating or parties and dances. It's the perfect time of year to turn down the lights, turn up the speakers, and play the hell out of a scary game.
Except that horror games and I, well, we don't mix well at all.
I don't do spooky and scary. The constant creepy "you are being watched" feeling of a Myst is borderline; the hospital level in BioShock almost kept me from playing the game. (Twice.) The last time I subjected myself to a deliberately scary experience didn't end well at all, and I have no desire ever to repeat it.
It wasn't a dark or stormy night. It was right around lunchtime, on a stunningly beautiful, warm, balmy spring day.
I was 22 years old and in London. Two friends and I had saved up and splurged on a spring break trip, and although our hotel was crappy and we all took turns coming down with a hideous cold, it was a fantastic week. We'd ridden the tourist bus around town and toured the Tower and other historic sites. But as the week wound down, my companions insisted on going to Madame Tussaud's.
There is nothing that is ever a good idea about wax people. I did not want to go to the museum full of wax people. I didn't want to be in the same city as a museum full of wax people. Alas, I was outvoted two to one and being young, broke, and unused to international travel I grumbled under my breath a lot and went to the museum with my friends.
It was creepy but tolerable. My skin kind of crawled but I thought I could just about manage it. And then we came to the Jack the Ripper exhibit, and-against my loud, vocal, and repeated protestations-my friends dragged me in.
Imagine a haunted house, designed to look like the darkened streets of the worst neighborhoods of 19th-century London. Then imagine that it is filled with both the world's most realistic waxworks and also with real actors on costume, who occasionally do things like leap out from the shadows and grab you. That was the exhibit.
One such actor jumped out and grabbed me. I reacted purely by instinct… and backhanded the guy in the face. Hard.
After some more yelling and screaming and demanding to be let out, staff came along and, in their understated British way, guided me out through an emergency exit.
So. While every other gamer in the world is out there delving into Silent Hill and Resident Evil and Amnesia and Slender and so on, I'll be over here with Plants vs Zombies. That's about the worst I can take.
Happy-and Spooky-Halloween, to those braver than I.
(Top photo: Flickr user ginnerobot)