What's Scarier: Literature, Movies, or Video Games?
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What's Scarier: Literature, Movies, Or Video Games?

Horror fiction plays a huge role in entertainment, but how people experience it has different effects.

What's Scarier: Literature, Movies, Or Video Games?

In honor of the 200th birthday of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," NPR released an article outlining the best scary stories of all time. The horror genre has been a niche for people of all ages. To some degree, everyone enjoys scary stuff.

The advancement of technology has allowed for the horror genre (with many others). I think the growth, however, has done interesting things to the genre other than spreading the fascination with the unknown.

People have always been scared of things, it's the reason we possess the Fight or Flight reflex. But the opportunity to experience this surge of adrenaline is not one that comes often. Horror fiction allows us to experience this feeling at arms-length.

Interestingly enough, each medium of horror fiction that I will focus on (literature, movies/TV, video games) has its own unique element. I hope that these insights allow you to maximize the spookiness in your life!



The original horror stories were the folklore and "wives' tales." Tales of pixies and changelings stealing children, Koschei the Deathless, and kelpies have formed the basis for many postmodern renditions.

The folk tales always had a purpose, whether they were warnings against certain actions or justifications for natural occurrences, but they eventually evolved to be entertainment. Evolving to exist as flash fictional mediums like CreepyPasta for quick, scarring reads.

They even make horror fiction for children through franchises like "Goosebumps." If folklore was told to children to get them not to hurt nature, why do we make horror novels for kids?

Reading horror stories can be profoundly scarier because the content only exists in the mind, and once it's there, it can't get out. There's no closing your eyes, no looking away. Your imagination manifests the horror.

Movies & Television


When horror moved to the screen, it gave physical images of the things that terrify people most. Like other mediums, movies and television allow people to experiences terrors through a window.

Unlike literature, this medium is exclusively through the third-person perspective, which further increases the distance between the viewer and the content. This distance makes movies very easy to separate from if it becomes too terrible.

Video Games


One of the more fascinating mediums for horror fiction is the video game. Like literature, the player is put into the mind of the protagonist. And like movies and television, video games provide a physical representation of the horror.

What makes video games much more horrifying than the other mediums is that you control the actions of the protagonist. It's no longer a story the viewer is watching, it's the viewer's story.

Moreover, video games made in the first-person perspective place the player into the protagonist's perceptions. The player sees what they see, making the unknown even more terrifying. These kinds of games may also restrict the protagonist's ability to fight back, making it just a run for their life.

I hope you take these insights as Halloween approaches and heighten your horror fiction excursions.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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