Survival horrality: analysis of a videogame genre

Ewan Kirkland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the ‘survival horror’ videogame – a genre including such series as Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Clock Tower, Fatal Frame and Forbidden Siren. The title is drawn from Philip Brophy’s 1983 essay which coins the neologism ‘horrality’, a merging of horror, textuality, morality and hilarity. Like Brophy’s original did of 1980s horror cinema, this article examines characteristics of survival horror videogame text, and seeks to illustrate the relationship between ‘new’ (media) horror and ‘old’ (media) horror. Brophy’s term structures this investigation around key issues and aspects of survival horror videogames. Horror relates to generic parallels with similarly-labelled film and literature, including gothic fiction, American horror cinema and traditional Japanese culture. Textuality examines the aesthetic qualities of survival horror, including the games’ use of narrative, their visual design and structuring of virtual spaces. Morality explores the genre’s ideological characteristics, the nature of survival horror violence, the familial politics of these texts, and their reflection on issues of institutional and bodily control. Hilarity refers to moments of humour and postmodern self reflexivity, leading to consideration of survival horror’s preoccupation with issues of vision, identification, and the nature of the videogame medium.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


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