Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Horror video games have come a long way since their inception. From the first terrifying creations to the modern masterpieces that we know and love today, the genre has evolved in leaps and bounds. But what was the first horror video game? That’s a question that has been asked by gamers and horror enthusiasts alike for decades. In this article, we’ll explore the origins of horror video games and uncover the game that started it all. Get ready to be scared as we delve into the dark world of horror gaming.

The Dawn of Horror Video Games: The First Frightening Creations

The First Horror Video Games: A Peek into the Past

Early Text-Based Games

The origins of horror video games can be traced back to the early days of home computing. These pioneering games were text-based, with players navigating through dark and eerie worlds through simple commands such as “go north” or “take key.” Examples of these early horror games include Colossal Cave Adventure (1976) and Zork (1979), which utilized text-based narratives to immerse players in a chilling atmosphere of suspense and mystery.

The Birth of Survival Horror Games

As technology advanced, so did the genre of horror video games. The late 1980s saw the emergence of survival horror games, which combined elements of horror and action. These games placed players in the role of a protagonist attempting to survive against malevolent entities, often in haunted or abandoned locations. Notable examples of these early survival horror games include Haunted House (1988) and Alone in the Dark (1992), which laid the groundwork for future horror games to come.

Pioneering Titles That Paved the Way

Several other groundbreaking horror video games emerged during this period, pushing the boundaries of what was possible in the genre. Games like Resident Evil (1996) and Silent Hill (1999) revolutionized the horror gaming experience, blending suspenseful gameplay with cinematic storytelling and terrifying atmospheres. These pioneering titles not only solidified the popularity of horror video games but also set the stage for the countless horror games that would follow in their footsteps.

How the First Horror Games Changed the Industry

  • Shaping player expectations
    • Paving the way for immersive gaming experiences
    • Encouraging innovation in storytelling and gameplay mechanics
  • Inspiring future horror game developers
    • Fostering a new subgenre of video games
    • Attracting a dedicated fan base
  • Establishing the horror genre in gaming
    • Pioneering the use of jump scares and psychological terror
    • Influencing the development of other horror media

The first horror video games revolutionized the gaming industry by introducing groundbreaking mechanics, immersive experiences, and terrifying gameplay elements. These early titles not only shaped player expectations but also inspired future game developers to delve into the horror genre. As a result, the horror genre in gaming was established, with pioneering titles laying the foundation for future games to build upon.

Classic Horror Games That Left Their Mark

Key takeaway: The evolution of horror video games has revolutionized the gaming industry by introducing groundbreaking mechanics, immersive experiences, and terrifying gameplay elements. Early horror games such as Colossal Cave Adventure, Zork, Haunted House, Resident Evil, and Silent Hill, among others, shaped player expectations and inspired future game developers to delve into the horror genre. Today, survival horror games continue to be popular, with technological advancements enhancing the visual and auditory elements, immersive storytelling, and gameplay mechanics, resulting in innovative games like Bloodborne, The Last of Us, and Little Nightmares. Horror game collectibles, including action figures, replica weapons, art prints, and statues, have gained immense popularity among fans, allowing them to celebrate their favorite games, display their personal interests, and create unique gaming environments.

Iconic Horror Games of the 80s and 90s

During the 1980s and 1990s, several iconic horror video games emerged that would forever change the landscape of the genre. These games, although primitive by today’s standards, left an indelible mark on the industry and continue to influence modern horror games. Some of the most notable games from this era include:

  • Halloween games: The Halloween franchise, which began in 1978 with the release of the classic horror film, quickly spawned a series of video games. The first Halloween game, released in 1982 for the Atari 2600, was a text-based adventure game that allowed players to navigate through the story as Michael Myers. Subsequent games in the series, such as Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002), continued to build on the franchise’s mythology and offered more advanced gameplay mechanics.
  • Fatal Frame series: The Fatal Frame series, also known as Project Zero in Europe, was first released in Japan in 1996 for the PlayStation. The game follows the story of a girl named Mayu who is searching for her missing sister in a haunted mansion. The series is known for its unique gameplay mechanics, which involve using a camera to capture and defeat ghosts. The series has since spawned several sequels, including Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly (2000) and Fatal Frame IV: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse (2008).
  • Resident Evil franchise: The Resident Evil franchise, which first debuted in 1996 for the PlayStation, quickly became one of the most popular horror video game series of all time. The game follows the story of a group of people who are trying to survive a zombie outbreak in a remote mansion. The series has since spawned numerous sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations, including the critically acclaimed Resident Evil 2 (2019) remake.

Overall, these classic horror games of the 80s and 90s paved the way for the modern horror video game genre and continue to influence game developers to this day.

The Rise of Survival Horror Games

Survival horror games have become synonymous with the horror genre in video games. These games are characterized by their emphasis on survival and exploration, rather than action-oriented gameplay. Some of the most influential survival horror games were released in the 1990s, paving the way for future titles in the genre.

  • Silent Hill series
    • The first game in the series, Silent Hill, was released in 1999 for the PlayStation. It follows the story of Harry Mason, who is searching for his missing daughter in the town of Silent Hill. The game’s atmospheric soundtrack, eerie environments, and otherworldly creatures helped establish the series as a pioneer in the survival horror genre.
    • Subsequent installments, such as Silent Hill 2 and 3, continued to refine the gameplay mechanics and storytelling, solidifying the series’ reputation as a masterclass in horror gaming.
  • Resident Evil 2 and 3
    • Resident Evil 2, released in 1998, follows rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield as they navigate a zombie-infested Raccoon City. The game’s focus on resource management and exploration, combined with its terrifying atmosphere, made it a critical and commercial success.
    • Resident Evil 3, released in 1999, stars S.T.A.R.S. member Jill Valentine as she attempts to escape a city overrun by the sinister Umbrella Corporation. This game introduced faster-paced gameplay and introduced new mechanics, such as the Nemesis enemy, which stalked Jill throughout the game.
  • Alone in the Dark
    • The original Alone in the Dark, released in 1992, was a pioneer in the survival horror genre, combining elements of horror and adventure games. Players controlled the protagonist, Edward Carnby, as he explored a haunted mansion and uncovered a dark mystery.
    • The series continued with subsequent installments, such as Alone in the Dark 2 and 3, further refining the gameplay mechanics and storytelling. These games emphasized exploration, puzzle-solving, and character development, making them stand out in the horror gaming landscape.

The Modern Age of Horror Games: Technological Advancements and Innovative Gameplay

The Impact of Technological Advancements on Horror Games

  • Improved graphics and sound:
    • With the advancements in video game technology, the visual and auditory elements of horror games have significantly improved.
    • High-definition graphics and surround sound allow for a more immersive and terrifying experience for players.
    • Realistic character models, detailed environments, and dynamic lighting create a more believable and intense atmosphere.
  • More immersive storytelling:
    • Technological advancements have enabled game developers to tell more complex and engaging stories in their horror games.
    • Improved dialogue systems, cutscenes, and branching narratives create a more dynamic and interactive storytelling experience.
    • Players can now fully immerse themselves in the story and become more emotionally invested in the characters and plot.
  • Enhanced gameplay mechanics:
    • Technological advancements have also allowed for more innovative and diverse gameplay mechanics in horror games.
    • For example, the use of motion controls and virtual reality technology creates a more immersive and terrifying experience for players.
    • Additionally, the incorporation of survival horror elements, such as limited resources and fear-inducing mechanics, adds to the challenge and tension of the game.

Breaking the Mold: Innovative Horror Games of Today


Bloodborne, developed by FromSoftware, is a horror-action RPG set in a Gothic, Lovecraftian world. Players assume the role of a Hunter, exploring the mysterious city of Yharnam and battling various grotesque creatures. The game’s unique feature is its emphasis on a deep, psychological horror experience, blending terror with a compelling narrative.

The Last of Us

The Last of Us, developed by Naughty Dog, is a post-apocalyptic survival horror game that follows the story of Joel and Ellie, a grizzled survivor and a young girl navigating a world overrun by a fungal infection. The game’s strength lies in its narrative, which explores themes of loss, trust, and human connection in a world gone mad.

Little Nightmares

Little Nightmares, developed by Tarsier Studios, is a puzzle-platformer horror game that tells the story of a young boy named Six and a mysterious creature named The Kid. The game takes place in a dark, creepy underworld filled with grotesque, nightmarish creatures. Little Nightmares stands out for its atmospheric visuals and unsettling atmosphere, drawing players into a world of fear and mystery.

Horror Game Merchandise: Collectibles and Memorabilia for Fans

Horror Game Merchandise: A Comprehensive Overview

Action Figures

  • Vintage horror video game characters as action figures
  • Detailed and accurate representation of the characters’ appearance
  • Highly sought after by collectors and fans

Replica Weapons

  • Realistic replicas of weapons from horror video games
  • Range from simple knives to complex and deadly tools
  • Perfect for cosplay or display in a collection

Art Prints and Posters

  • High-quality prints of official game artwork
  • Showcase iconic scenes and characters from horror video games
  • Available in various sizes and materials, such as canvas and paper
Trading Cards
  • Collectible trading cards featuring horror video game characters and scenes
  • Limited edition releases with unique designs and artwork
  • A popular way for fans to show their love for their favorite games
Statues and Busts
  • Detailed and highly-detailed statues and busts of horror video game characters
  • Made from high-quality materials, such as resin and porcelain
  • Add a touch of horror to any room in the house

The Appeal of Horror Game Collectibles

Horror game collectibles have gained immense popularity among fans, and it’s not hard to see why. These collectibles offer a unique way for fans to celebrate their favorite games, display their personal interests, and even create a unique gaming environment. Here are some of the key reasons why horror game collectibles have become so appealing to fans:

  • Celebrating favorite games: Horror game collectibles allow fans to celebrate their favorite games in a tangible way. From figures of iconic characters to replicas of in-game items, these collectibles provide a way for fans to show their love for the games they enjoy. For many fans, these collectibles serve as a reminder of the memories they’ve made while playing these games, and they help to bring back those memories whenever they see the collectibles on display.
  • Displaying personal interests: Horror game collectibles are often highly detailed and intricately designed, making them a perfect way for fans to display their personal interests. Whether it’s a collection of figures, a series of posters, or a set of miniatures, these collectibles offer a way for fans to show off their love for the genre. Many fans enjoy displaying their collectibles in their gaming area, creating a unique and immersive environment that reflects their interests.
  • Creating unique gaming environments: Horror game collectibles can also be used to create a unique gaming environment. For example, a fan might use a set of figures to create a diorama that recreates a memorable scene from their favorite horror game. Or, they might use a series of posters to create a themed room that immerses them in the world of their favorite horror game. These collectibles offer a way for fans to bring their favorite games to life in a way that’s both fun and immersive.

Overall, the appeal of horror game collectibles is clear. They offer a way for fans to celebrate their favorite games, display their personal interests, and even create a unique gaming environment. Whether you’re a fan of classic horror games or modern masterpieces, there’s sure to be a collectible out there that speaks to your interests.

The Future of Horror Games: Trends and Predictions

Emerging Trends in Horror Games

  • Virtual reality experiences
    Virtual reality (VR) technology has the potential to revolutionize the horror genre in video games. With VR, players can experience a fully immersive and terrifying world, as they are transported into the game’s setting. This technology allows for a more intense and realistic gaming experience, as players can move around and interact with their environment in real-time. VR horror games have already started to gain popularity, and it is expected that this trend will continue to grow in the future.
  • Multiplayer horror games
    Multiplayer horror games are another emerging trend in the genre. These games allow players to team up and face their fears together, adding a new level of social interaction to the horror experience. Multiplayer games also allow for a more dynamic and unpredictable gameplay, as players must work together to survive against the terrifying threats. With the rise of online gaming and the increasing popularity of multiplayer experiences, it is likely that we will see more and more multiplayer horror games in the future.
  • Horror games with mature themes
    Horror games with mature themes are also becoming more prevalent in the genre. These games tackle more serious and controversial topics, such as mental illness, violence, and political issues. They often feature more complex characters and storylines, and offer a more mature and thought-provoking experience for players. As the gaming industry continues to mature and diversify, it is expected that we will see more horror games with mature themes in the future.

The Future of Horror Game Merchandise

  • Limited edition collectibles
    • High-quality replicas of in-game items or memorable characters
    • Collaborations with popular artists or franchises for exclusive designs
    • Numbered or signed by creators for added value and authenticity
  • Officially licensed products
    • Clothing and accessories featuring game logos or designs
    • Replica props or weapons from the game
    • Interactive or augmented reality experiences tied to the game
  • Fan-made creations
    • Customized console skins or controller wraps
    • Homemade costumes or props inspired by the game
    • Fan art and fan fiction sharing the players’ own terrifying stories set in the game’s universe

These predictions for the future of horror game merchandise suggest a growing trend towards more immersive and interactive experiences for fans. As the gaming industry continues to evolve, the lines between video games and other forms of entertainment will blur, offering exciting new opportunities for fans to engage with their favorite horror games in unique and unexpected ways.

The Impact of Horror Games on Popular Culture

Horror game adaptations

The impact of horror games on popular culture can be seen in the numerous adaptations of these games into various forms of media. Films, TV shows, and even novels have been inspired by the stories and characters found in horror games. These adaptations not only bring new audiences to the franchise but also expand the universe and provide additional content for existing fans.

Horror game conventions

Horror game conventions have become a staple of the gaming community, bringing together fans of the genre to celebrate their love of all things spooky. These conventions often feature panels and workshops where industry experts discuss the latest trends and technologies in horror game development, as well as showcase new and upcoming titles. Attendees can also participate in cosplay contests and other activities that allow them to immerse themselves in the horror game universe.

The enduring appeal of horror games

Despite the numerous advancements in technology and the emergence of new genres, horror games continue to be a staple of the gaming industry. The enduring appeal of these games can be attributed to their ability to evoke strong emotions in players, from fear and anxiety to excitement and thrill. Horror games also offer a unique form of escapism, allowing players to enter a world where they can confront their deepest fears and overcome challenges in a safe and controlled environment.

Overall, the impact of horror games on popular culture is undeniable, with their influence extending far beyond the gaming community. As technology continues to advance and new trends emerge, it will be interesting to see how horror games evolve and adapt to meet the changing needs and desires of players.


1. What was the first horror video game?

The first horror video game is considered to be “Haunted House” which was released in 1981 for the Atari 2600 console. This game was one of the first video games to use 3D graphics and was also one of the first to incorporate elements of horror into its gameplay. Players controlled a character who had to navigate through a haunted house, avoiding ghosts and other supernatural creatures while searching for a way to escape.

2. Who created the first horror video game?

The first horror video game, “Haunted House,” was developed by Atari and designed by Steve Cartwright, who was one of the company’s most prolific game designers at the time. Cartwright was known for his innovative use of 3D graphics and his ability to create engaging and suspenseful gameplay experiences.

3. What was the significance of the first horror video game?

The first horror video game, “Haunted House,” was significant because it marked the beginning of a new genre of video games that would go on to become incredibly popular. It was one of the first games to use 3D graphics, which gave players a more immersive experience and allowed them to feel like they were actually inside the haunted house. The game’s success also helped to establish the video game industry as a viable form of entertainment.

4. How has the horror video game genre evolved over time?

The horror video game genre has evolved significantly over the years, with new games constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of graphics, gameplay, and storytelling. Early horror games like “Haunted House” were relatively simple in their design, but later games like “Resident Evil” and “Silent Hill” introduced more complex narratives and advanced gameplay mechanics. Today’s horror games often incorporate elements of psychological horror, survival horror, and even horror-themed puzzle-solving.

5. What are some of the most popular horror video games today?

Some of the most popular horror video games today include “The Last of Us,” “Outlast,” “Alien: Isolation,” and “Until Dawn.” These games offer a wide range of horror experiences, from post-apocalyptic survival to first-person exploration of a haunted space station to a choice-driven narrative featuring famous horror movie characters. No matter what kind of horror experience you’re looking for, there’s sure to be a game that will deliver the scares.


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