“My roommates Lane and Brendan, and also our friend Andrew who doesn’t live with us but is around sometimes, we have a tradition of having horror game nights where we all get together late at night – recently, we’ve done it with cake that says like, ‘Happy Horror Game Night!’ – and we’ll sit around, and turn all of the lights off, and play a horror video game. It’s a terrible idea because all of us get scared very easily and none of us like horror games, so we just we don’t really enjoy it. It’s fun because it can sometimes be fun to get scared, but none of us like being scared. I especially don’t like being scared. We’ll sometimes switch off who plays but usually it’s Brendan or Andrew because I get too scared and Lane gets headaches and stuff, so they will play the game and we’ll all watch, and do the story and stuff, and freak out, and then take breaks, and turn the lights on, and eat cake, and turn them off again, and then I’ll say, ‘let’s stop.’ Everyone will say, ‘No, let’s keep going!’ and I’ll say, ‘Ok!’ and then we’ll all cuddle on the couch together in fear and horror.”
Background Information and Context:
“It’s a bonding experience being of afraid together, and it’s how we became friends in the first place, which is why we continue to do it. The very first time we all were in the same place at the same time, we were all at Brendan’s place and we had just gotten this game called PT, which we later found out stood for Playable Trailer because it’s a playable trailer for a game called, like, Silent Hill. The trailer was super scary, and it was basically like this hallway that you kept going round and round and round, and you kept circling back, and things kept happening, and it was super duper scary. He had gotten that, and we were playing it together even though we didn’t really know each other. It was in Webb Tower, and we sat this couch together and, like, all the lights are off, and we are playing it for some whatever ridiculous reason, and at one point there’s this ghost lady, and she looked popped out of nowhere, and literally all of us let out bloodcurdling screams. And no one came to check on us! We were in Webb Tower, there is an RA in that building, I’m sorry it was very clearly not like we’re having a good time screams! It was screams of terror!”
This anecdote offers insight into the reasons people willingly engage in activities that are not enjoyable. I, personally, never watch horror movies or play horror movies, but many people, like the informant and her friends, engage in the genre frequently. For some, the adrenaline rush, itself, is an exciting and enjoyable experience. For the informant and her friends, being scared is a social experience. They are afraid, but they are doing it together in solidarity even though none of them enjoy the fear, itself. The tradition is also symbolic, reminding them of how they became friends as they experience this shared experience each week. I think stories of being scared also make great, exciting stories, and telling those stories can be a rewarding social experience.