Written by: Claire Chingkoe (Instagram: @clairechingkoe) feat. Vann Vicente (Instagram: @vannisokay)
The Helpless Gamer Format
First off, let me explain the torture encapsulated within the helpless gamer format.
It involves two players: one that holds the controller and maneuvers where the character will go, and the helpless gamer (HG) who holds power over the character’s perspective via a Virtual Reality headset. The HG experiences the game almost entirely dependent on the controller, making teamwork especially crucial. The fun part comes in when you throw a scaredy cat into the mix. Let the games begin! *snicker*
The Game Context
We tested this format on the game Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. For a bit of context, the game is played through the perspective of Ethan Winters who is looking for his missing wife, Mia. She had been missing for three years when Ethan receives a mysterious email regarding her whereabouts.
He decides to pursue this lead, which brings him to a creepy, dilapidated estate wherein which, well, shit goes down. I was also told that this might possibly (just possibly) be the scariest out of the three. Probably not the best situation for a guinea pig like me to get myself into…
As a person terrible at controlling role-playing games, thank goodness the responsibility was in the hands of someone who knew what he was doing. I found myself getting distracted by random things (scenery, nature, interesting furniture) which was probably my subconscious preventing us from entering the house at all…
Also, as the biggest scaredy cat, I realized that I couldn’t just close my eyes like in every horror movie I’ve seen, but I had to keep myself focused on the crazy person just so we could get past a certain stage in the game. You don’t know how many times I had to relive my wife hacking my arm to death… which, while mentally disturbing at first, also helped me numb myself so I could get the job done.
I wasn’t allowed to hold onto anything for comfort, either; so as the game progressed I was nearly curled into fetal position trying to hold myself together. That probably sounds dramatic. But hey, I sucked it up! I made it through! Except for the second phase because I definitely chickened out. Heh. What I can say, though, was that I did not have any nightmares that night, and I fell asleep with ease.
So, at the end of it all, what are a few words that come to mind? Screaming! Grabbing onto nearby people! Visible shaking! (I was scared, guys.) Questionable morals! (I mean I know she’s your wife, but man… why couldn’t you kill her right away?) Consideration for your co-player! (You’ll be coaxing and asking each other for permission quite often.) Though Vann (my controller) made me walk to places that I completely wanted to avoid, I guess it was for the best interest of the game. Trust me, if I were in his position I would not get anything done! So apart from the psychologically damaging bits, it was a pretty neat experience. (No, I am not being forced against my will to say this.) I did genuinely appreciate the experience, now that it’s over. Even to the point that I would try it again…?
Now that it’s done, real life seems pretty dull. Where’s the screaming? And the terror of having my hand chopped off by a chainsaw? Louisiana, I guess. Or UnGeek’s Youtube channel, where you can check out more of their entertaining footage. If you enjoy, don’t forget to like, subscribe, and leave a comment below! (I’ve always wanted to say that.) All props to our folks at UnGeek who made the trauma worth it!