The creepy corridors of video games

August 6, 2019
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We pass through passages and hallways everyday without pause. They’re boring, empty, uneventful dead-spaces unworthy of consideration – not so much architecture to stop and appreciate, as infrastructure to quickly pass through. All they do is channel things around buildings, moving us from one room to the next. But while we so often take these in-between areas for granted, rushing down them in order to reach places of real importance, they can also be incredibly evocative.

Corridors are anxious, uneasy places, and horror has a history of using them to put us on edge. They’re rarely the site of explicit terror or violence, but they lead us there. Zones of anticipatory fear, the corridor is conducive to horror through its ability to heighten suspense and gesture to the unknown. What lies around the corner, or beyond that door? Every hallway is a world of undetermined possibility.

Roger Luckhurst, a professor at the University of London and expert in all things horror, recently penned a book about corridors. He’s quick to mention the Resident Evil series and the various facilities of the Umbrella Corporation, where horror is sometimes confined and squeezed into a particularly pure form. On many occasions the video game corridor is a gauntlet (in the Resident Evil spinoffs for example). In these corridor shooters, the constrictive form of the horror hallway becomes a condenser for an adrenaline-fuelled onslaught where you’re forced to hack or blast your way through a narrow, zombie-infested space.

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