Ever had a brownout come around between save points and wipe out precious hours of game play? Ever come home to a devastating PC crash that took your files and your game saves along with it? Or, alternatively, did you have a bad run-in with the wrong kind of player in a MOBA? Did something creepy happen while you were gaming? We’ve asked our staff to share some of their most terrifying gaming experiences with us.
I was stupidly proud of this one 999+ hour run that I had on Final Fantasy Tactics. I had grinded, switched out, and item farmed my way up to the perfect party, with several alternative permutations to boot depending on the story encounter at hand. Then one of my older brothers accidentally saved over the file.
From that point on, throughout the rest of our PS1’s life span and down until the PS2, all five of us siblings bought our own memory cards.
I played a lot of games on my GBA SP, but the game that I spent a lot of time on was Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2.
I had around 98% completion on this game and this was pretty hard for me at that time, because grinding for the rare items was difficult and annoying. One day I found my nephew playing with my GBA, I was cool with it because he’s my nephew and it’s his first time playing with any handheld console.
Then I realized he saved over my hard work…
Way back when I used to live in Legazpi and PC gaming was restricted to CD’s and dial-up internet, I would hole up in the family computer room and lock the doors and close the curtains to play one of my secret, guilty, pleasures: JumpStart.
I specifically played JumpStart 4th Grade: Haunted Island. I bet some of you guys played it too, so to refresh your memories, watch the intro again!
In this game, your substitute teacher is a witch! She turns thirteen of your classmates into grotesque monsters and is planning to turn you into something spooky too. You have to get your classmates items to save them and keys to open Ms. Grunkle’s house and attic. Pretty spoopy, right?
It got spoopier. I was playing this alone in the family computer room early in the morning to avoid being judged for being in Grade 6 and playing a 4th Grade game. There I was, solving a puzzle, when Respac shoots me a pop quiz and throws me into the labyrinth, effectively killing me and throwing me into hell.
The labyrinth is a really scary place: just background music and footsteps. Walking and walking and walking until you find the fountain of life to bring you back to the world of the living. Mind you, this is a game targeted at fourth graders and they literally die and pass through hell in this game.
So, there I was, walking around the labyrinth as a dead fourth grader in a dark room, when suddenly the IRL window creaked open. Young RM freaked out, but then ran to the window to see what was happening.
Nothing was there: the old windows had just opened on their own. I turn around and see the computer and see Respac quizzing me again. I answered it confidently and almost gloat when the window opens again. I freaked out and fled. My parents got mad at me for shouting early in the morning and told me to turn all the stuff off and go do homework.
I walked back to the computer room and found everything already turned off. All things in their place, except for the open windows.
I never did get to finish that game anymore and at this point, I’m too afraid to try.
So before I get into the story proper, let me draw for you what my setup looks like.
So here I was, minding my own business, playing my video games and suddenly, my brother’s clock/radio turned on.
Note that my brother was out and his door was open. I could hear it from where I was, and it definitely wasn’t him who turned on the radio. In fact, there was no one in that room and it was pitch black inside.
So, the clock/radio was on some random frequency and it was just blaring static in my brother’s dark, empty room. Having experienced a few Silent Hills, hearing static just gives me an ominous, heebie jeebies feeling.
Of course, I had to turn it off. I got up my seat and slowly walked toward the dark room in a fighting stance (probably looking like an idiot but oh well). I turned on the lights and confirmed that there really wasn’t anyone there. I shrugged it off, turned the clock/radio off and went back to my seat. When I got back to my computer, it was turned off. Not on sleep, not in screensaver mode, OFF.
If this really was a ghost, he should be on YouTube because that was a good spoopy prank, bro.
I admit, I’m a scaredy-cat. I’ve had my own share of horror stories, and I’ve had a peculiar fascination for all things mystic, esoteric and the occult (but that’s a story for another time).
However, my researching about things and my actually subjecting myself to a horror experience are two completely different things. Well, unless I get to control my character perhaps, and it’s my actively fighting against the terrible beyond.
I think much of my fascination towards video games have come from a startling frustration about tabletop roleplaying games. Being on voluntary solitary confinement for much of my childhood meant I really didn’t have the chance to play with a lot of people. To be fair, I’ve been playing a lot of RPGs now, but man my childhood was boring. Not a wreck, but plain boring. It was fun, though, my uncle introduced me to my new friends: video games. (Diablo 2 was a godsend).
Timeskip to around six years later. I stumble upon Vampire: the Masquerade. It’s the old World of Darkness iteration, so it got me hooked. Having read Trese and being in a supernaturally-inspired mood, I was looking for extra sources for my then-incomplete NaNoWriMo piece.
Vampire: the Masquerade takes place in the World of Darkness. It’s a dark and gritty world the same as ours except there’s more conspiracy, aliens may exist, and creatures such as werewolves, vampires (the main cast in this particular RPG), mages, hunters, ghosts and demons live with us. It got my attention (occult wonderland) instantly and, well, when I heard there was a game (Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines), I knew I had to play it.
The game was like Grand Theft Auto, only darker and bloodier. It’s old for its time, and definitely doesn’t have the best graphics ever. But I’ll be forever impressed with Troika and the way they sculpt their universes.
The world itself is open world and free to explore, but being the scaredy-cat that I am, I barely go out of my league to explore the three-four towns in the game.
Point is, you play as one of the seven vampire “tribes” under the Camarilla. It’s a secluded order of Kindred (vampire) that try their best to “retain” their humanity (their being human) in order to blend in. I always play the Tremere, because I like how they control blood and make people explode. But I sometimes play the Malkavian, because even though their dialogues are almost completely crazy, they’re fun to use.
Either way, I got comfortable with the entire gritty premise of the game. It’s dark and bloody, sure, but I can tolerate that – especially if I’m a super-powerful mage myself. What I didn’t expect was my being sent to a decrepit hotel devoid of any human – or supernatural – presence.
It’s where things got wrong. Imagine Five Nights met Silent Hill. Entering the hotel will instantly trigger the explosion of bulbs from the chandelier, and objects suddenly move when you’re not looking. Cue in the silhouette of a white girl passing by your peripheral every now and then, and not to mention disturbing articles about some horrible crime in the hotel. This is a hotel where elevators try to kill you, rooms are either too old to be used or too bloody to be useful, and all signs of human life were alive.
Oh, did I mention there was a baby in the washing machine? Yeah.
Point is, I got too terrified to the point that I had to play soothing music just for me to get through the entire level. This is my knowing that the entire level is scripted, all the responses that are “ghostly” correspond to my actions, and, well, it’s downright terrifying. Regardless, I had to play something. And yes, it’s that Terrified (the one with the guy from Chuck).
Finishing the level was an exhausting ride, but it was fulfilling. I’ve got to admit, it’s one of the hallmarks of horror gaming (given my experience with playing a lot of games tucked down), especially for its time. Every time I play the level (and the game, sadly), I had to play the music. And even without the music, I hum the song unconsciously. Damned Pavlov!
If there’s one thing that my elders on my mother’s side always told me, it’s that the family has some supernatural talent. We’re talking third eyes, a smattering of “prophetic” dreams, and the ability to attract spirits.
I used to think it was all hogwash, at least until after my grandfather passed. The family home in our province is old. Sturdy, but old. I was always told never to be on the second floor alone past midnight, and there’d always be creaking at odd hours of the night.
Given that people tended to hog the den TV during the day, I was only ever be able to play video games at night. It had been about a year after my grandfather passed, so I had my PS1 set up, and I was grinding through disc three of Final Fantasy IX.
My grandfather had mild insomnia when he was alive. In the past, he’d occasionally sit down in his rocking chair a little behind me and watch me play, a smile on his face even when he didn’t understand everything I was doing. He would also take a walk outside just to breathe in a little night air, head for the bathroom, and then tell me “Igiw, go to bed” in Chavacano. Mom told me he enjoyed watching the fact that I was happily plodding through my games, even though it was super late.
That night didn’t feel any different. But at around 1 am, I heard a noise, not unlike the shuffling walk he’d do at night outside. I thought it might be one of my cousins because nearly all of us were home for sem break. Now, the windows on that floor were the old wood ones, with big wooden shutters. These were left open at night to let the cool air in. I paused the game because of the shuffling, ignoring the way the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end.
I’ll never forget what I saw next, because outside the window – moving towards the back door that led to the bathrooms – was a pitch black figure moving at the same pace as my grandfather. I blinked and the figure was gone, so I went back to my game, but only so I could find a save point and retreat to my room.
I’d just found a save point when the rocking chair creaked, and did a wobble like someone was sitting in it. I looked and there was nobody there, but that was a pretty clear signal that I should go to bed. I sighed, and said “okay, okay lolo, I’m going to bed” in badly accented Chavacano, tinged with a little fear.
I told my mom and grandmother the following morning and they laughed at me, saying that my grandfather never did like me being alone at that time of the night because I never knew what could happen. Guess he had to show me.
In gaming, there are several different ways to measure success. Sometimes, it’s getting a great speed-run time and a Platinum trophy to maintain your Master rank. Other times, it’s finding that rare drop after hours of grinding. As a young child in the late 90’s, my gaming goal was to complete the 1st Generation Pokedex of Pokemon.
In retrospect, it wasn’t an overwhelming challenge. But as a grade-schooler with limited funding and time, gathering all 150 Pokemon was a Herculean task.
After clocking in several hours on Pokemon Blue and Red as well as expanding my social circle to include fellow Poke-enthusiasts, I was one step away from achieving the elusive title of Pokemon Master.
During my journey, I was enthusiastic to share the joys of Pokemon, with the rising popularity of the trading card game and the TV show. I was enthused to let my younger cousin in this all-consuming childhood hobby. I let him borrow my Pokemon Blue file with 149 out of the 150.
He overwrote the file when he saved the game after starting a new run. I was crushed. My dreams were dashed!
Although I eventually forgave him, my excitement for Pokemon withered away like flowers in a drought. I went on to play Pokemon Yellow and the 2nd Generation games, yet I only played to complete the story. My romance with the franchise went into dormancy until the 6th Generation with Pokemon’s first 3DS incarnation, Pokemon X and Y. I figured that enough time has passed to allow me to reignite the fire that burned within my past self. Lo and behold, I finally achieved my dream of collecting all the Pokemon (that were available during that time).
Have similar things happened to any of you before? Do you have some of your own, chilling accounts that could quite possibly top ours? Let us know all about them!