‘The Self-Reflexive Funhouse of Silent Hill’

Ewan Kirkland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores Konami's horror videogame franchise Silent Hill according to recent discussions of immersion, alienation and critical simulation. Silent Hill constitutes an extremely selfreflexive series, frequently acknowledging its videogame status and interrogating the medium as experience and text. This, paradoxically, produces an experience of simultaneous critical distance and intensified engagement. Clumsy controls, grotesque imagery and deterministic gameplay disrupt player immersion. The digital emulation of analogue media and its distortion denies technological transparency. Silent Hill invites comparisons to Brechtian theatre and filmmaking through its estranged protagonists, multiple `alternative' spaces, and pervasive `unpleasure'. Yet while encouraging critical engagement with the videogame process, these aspects also contribute to the games' horror affect. Anti-immersive elements rely upon repellent audiovisuals. Analogue disintegration is employed to signify evil, corruption and contamination. Contradicting assumptions that emphasizing construction and enunciation disrupts identification, immersion and illusion, such aspects are fundamental to Silent Hill's operation as horror text.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-415
Number of pages13
JournalConvergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


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