Tuesday, 27 November 2012

DH and Gaming: Closer than we thought?

So I'm not really much of a gamer, the furthest my foray into the world of gaming went was The Sims (1,2,3). I have to admit though, I was quite obsessed with those games. For me it has become a case of simply not having the time to appreciate the world of gaming. For the last five years I have bounced from one degree to the next, which really eats into your 'me' time.

However, I have recently discovered a game which has been getting a lot of attention on the web. I'm probably, most definitely, late to the game on this one but I was interested in it from an open access perspective. The game in question is Slender. This is a prime example of good quality, FREE gaming. Did I mention it's free to download! And no I am not being paid to promote it. I am a big horror genre fan, so the concept of the game piqued my interest immediately. The premise of the game is to travel through a forest in the pitch black of night, gathering 8 pages from various locations, while all the while trying to avoid being caught by the 'Slender man'. It also includes very eerie music which increases in volume as the Slender Man draws near to you, and the tendency for your flashlight to fail at this exact moment.

The creation of the legend of the Slender Man is described on the games homepage. Although the creator is named as Victor Surge, it shows the manipulation of forums and blog threads to create something sharable:
 The Slender Man was created at the Something Awful Forums in a thread entitled "Create Paranormal Images." He is described as wearing a black suit strikingly similar to the visage of the notorious Men In Black, and as the name suggests, appears very thin and able to stretch his limbs and torso to inhuman lengths in order to induce fear and ensnare his prey. Once his arms are outstretched, his victims are put into something of a hypnotized state, where they are utterly helpless to stop themselves from walking into them. 
(The Slender Man)

Not only is this game an example of the power of collaborative efforts  via the 'Something Awful Forums', but it shows the incredible work which is being done in terms of open creative endeavours.

It also encompasses some key elements of the movement in digital humanities: Interdisciplinarity, collaboration and creativity. Examples of these functions can be seen in the assembling of the Slender Man story. Aspects of the digital manipulation used in the paranormal pictures photoshop competition run on the Something Awful Forum, Cabadath from the Chzo Mythos games, and German folklore tales about Der Grobmann, often translated as the tall man, all influenced the creation of this game (Slender Man-Know Your Meme).

(Der Grobmann, from German folklore tales)

Personally, this game conjured images of Jack Skellington from Henry Sellick and Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). 

It also links rather nicely to the argument that I was making in my last post about the purpose within Digital Humanities of Deforming for Reforming, or what I like to refer to as digital flattery. In this sense, I would argue that this game was conceived of through the deformation of various representations of this tall figure and folk tales about such figures, in order to create a new digital, gaming version of this figure. 

The site which hosts the game also provides connections between DH and the gaming community. It seems that DH has taken a lot of inspiration from the world of gaming, in terms of their methods of communication and discussion. The forum, is now a large part of the gaming culture, in which tactics can be discussed and help can be received to get past a certain level. This site houses a very well frequented forum which would put many DH forums to shame. 

So next time you DHers play your games, whether on your console or online, remember that you are contributing to the long relationship which exists between the world of gaming and its influence on concepts within Digital Humanities.

With thanks to the Slender Man game for influencing this post.


  1. I am afraid my last experience of computer games was a single pixel that you could 'hit' with a bat from one player to the other across a console. Maybe it is me, but I just never could develop any interest in gaming, spending way too much time already behind a computer screen. I can, however, see that it has both an allure and a use. It also seems to be big business, and, no doubt, huge creativity goes into the whole process of envisioning and creating a game. I did look at the blog that Olivia posted recently and while I could appreciate the work that went into the ‘game’– http://bit.ly/V47AUO – I was still not won over. Thankfully we are all different and there is room for us all.,

    1. Anno, I assume you are referring to this little gem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDrRnJOCKZc Maybe you just haven't found the game that works for you...

    2. I am by no means a big gamer, but this one was getting a lot of hype from my friends, so I thought I'd give it a whirl! I do think that it is quite interesting to examine gaming from the conceptual end of things, to get a little history and to understand the influences a little bit better. I will take a look at Olivia's post now, thanks for highlighting that. Yes, we are all different, and I like the fact that I can absorb new perspectives from everyone varying interests within the group. For example, Olivia and Roisin's talk of various games partly inspired this post.

  2. I had seen images of the Slender Man floating around the net and wondered what it was, wondered to a degree of not following up as I knew it'd find me again eventually. Looks intriguing and the sourcing aspect seems to be had been done right. I had dismissed the image as something that emanated from a Creepypasta http://www.creepypasta.com/ and in fact it may well have as it is a popular subject on the site. What is also appealing is the use of mythical creatures to create the image (Der Großmann et al) Of course this is nothing new as regards character creation in gaming in general as history is consistently plundered for inspiration, but again the collaborative aspect of the way he (it?) came to be is interesting.
    I'll be checking out the game tonight!

  3. That's great Christian, I hope you enjoyed it. If nothing else it might give you a good scare for a few minutes. Yeah, the conceptualization process for games like these are really interesting to examine. I always underestimate the amount of historical and folkloric elements that can be seen in gaming.