It’s Time to Retire the Giant Spider

No High Scores

I want you to know from the outset, this is a Very Serious Post (sort of). I’m sure the picture of a kitten with a stuffed animal does not imply seriousness, but I assure you, that kitten is quite sincere. Wake him at your peril. More to the point, there’s no way I’m putting a picture of a spider on this blog. Ever. If I ever see one here I’ll go in and delete it. Period. So when I say the following, I’m not screwing around…

Dear Developers,

ENOUGH WITH THE GODDAM SPIDERS ALREADY!

Hugs and kisses,
Todd

If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m one of many poor sods out there who have fallen pray to the world’s most common phobia: Arachnophobia. It’s not merely a fear of spiders. Oh no. It’s a fear of creatures with eight legs, bulbous bodies, multitudes of eyes, and poison soaked fangs. They will drop down from above when you least expect it. Hide in your shoes, sheets, and clothes. Oh and there’s the whole sticky web thing where they entrap and devour creatures without mercy or hope for escape.

Yes, I know. Few people actually like spiders or would want one crawling on them. This is different. This is not dislike. This is irrational fear. This is me growing tense and uncomfortable just writing that last paragraph describing a spider’s nastier features. I don’t watch the Shelob scenes in Return of the King. My mom recently sent me an article clipping about all the sciency things being done with spiders. I didn’t read it until I cut out the picture of the spider on the first page. The only thing that gets me through a real life encounter is the fact that my rational mind knows 99% of spiders I encounter in the midwest aren’t A) poisonous to me or B) very big. My distinct size advantage does help mitigate the terror. Also, I don’t want my kids to see me scream and flee the room. I have a reputation as an authority figure to uphold. But even though I’ll walk up to a spider and smash it with a shoe, that doesn’t mean I’m not suppressing a panic attack as my mind fills with images of it leaping at me at the last possible second fangs glistening with… gyuh…

As you might imagine, as an RPG guy, this poses a bit of a problem for me because every frigg’n fantasy RPG developer on Earth seems to think spiders are a necessary part of the beastiary. Yes, I realize a spider won’t leap off a page or out of my computer screen. Again I point out phobias are not about rationality. It doesn’t matter what can actually happen. It only matters what my mind can imagine and I have a good goddam imagination. Now, back in the day this wasn’t the end of the world because computer graphics could only do so much to render a spider. Stilted polygons and muddled colors can only evoke so much. The fine details that fill my mind with dread were notably absent and even if they were relatively large relative to my onscreen avatar, I still had my real-life size advantage keeping the fear in check. With each passing generation of games, however, the playing field tilts further and further away from me.

Dragon Age 2? I’m not kidding when I say that were Casual mode not an option and were my party members not capable of fighting for themselves, I would have struggled to finish that game. Bioware loves them some spiders. The “little” ones made me uncomfortable, but I managed. The three or four ubers in the game? The ones that take up every last inch of my 22″ display? What the fuck* are you people thinking!?!?!? These fucking** things are FURRY for the love of Christ!

Were I an animator at Bioware and they asked me to design that model I’d have to quit. There is no way. And I know I’m not alone in this because there is forum thread after forum thread of people talking about how they’re struggling to play games with spiders of this magnitude. There’s even a DA2 mod that turns them into Mabari. Genius.

So as my anticipation grows for Skyrim and Witcher 2, two games that look to push some serious graphical detail, I can only stop and wonder just why they feel it necessary to use this unparalleled power for pure evil. I mean it: Evil.

Not the Diet Coke of Evil:

No High Scores

Actual doctoral honors in Evil:

No High Scores

Last month Rock, Paper, Shotgun threw up some Skyrim screenshots that included a battle scene with a spider that puts the abomination in DA2 to shame. How am I supposed to win that fight? Can I finish this game if I run from every last one of these things I see? And today I’m back on RPS and they’re talking about 12 things they like about their preview build of Witcher 2 and I read this:

Giant spiders, meanwhile, will keep showing up in droves unless you find a way to lure out and murder their queens.

Um. No. Not gonna happen. Not ever fucking*** going to happen.

Okay, I’ll admit there’s an element here that is a little tongue and cheek. And I don’t think my own personal phobia should be driving game design for multi-million dollar development projects. But here are the facts. Phobias, whatever their cause are real and do cause genuine terror. Given that Arachnophobia is the single most prevalent phobia in the world, at this point it borders on being irresponsible using the graphical horsepower of today’s machines to exacerbate that fear by rendering these nightmare visions into all but photo-realistic life. It’s time, guys, to retire the giant spider. It’s fantasy. Make up something else. Don’t do it for me. Do it because… well, actually, just doing it for me is reason enough in my book.

*Do you know the last time I dropped an F-bomb in a post on this site? Pretty sure this is my first. I’m not messing around here.
**No, seriously. Me dropping an F-bomb in a post means we’re at DefCon 1.
***I will burn the world to a cinder and all of you with it before I kite a spider queen.

39 Responses to “It’s Time to Retire the Giant Spider”

  1. Lemonz April 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    I made an account here just to agree with you. I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with something more than this. The existence of spiders is proof that God is dead.

  2. Bill Abner April 29, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Wait. I have personally handed out free copies of Homefront, Dawn of War II Retribution, Clash of Heroes HD and Mount & Blade Warband and Todd’s irrational fear of spiders made you register.

    I clearly do not understand out reader base!

  3. reifnir April 29, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    Come on, I’m irrationally afraid of being devoured by insects. Do I freak the f*ck out and sometimes injure myself when there is an actual insect on me? Yes. Does that mean I can’t sit still when I’m watching Temple of Doom? Yes. Does it mean I go all willy nilly when I see insects in video games? No.

    I don’t see how the -clearly- imaginary representation of your fear in the context of a video game can cause this distress. Seriously, was this post a joke?

  4. Gulthius April 29, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    I actually think video games helped me get over my fear of spiders. I used to absolutely hate the things, but I’ve always been a huge sucker for rpg and fantasy games and, as you said, every single one has spiders in it so I had to tough it out. Now after years of being constantly exposed to them in video games, they don’t really bother me in real life so much. It probably helped that when I started playing video games spiders were either little pixelated sprites or almost unrecognizable lumps of polygon so I could get gradually eased into the more realistic depictions over years of graphical improvements. I pity the poor child who has to get thrown into the deep end with modern graphics.

  5. Aurelias April 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    I could not agree more. Agh God I hate spiders so. And the bs thing is that they are not just exclusive to spider games. For example, it seems like if you are afraid of sharks, you mostly have to avoid games set underwater.

    But spiders are everywhere. Seriously everywhere. So many friggin games ruined for me because I can’t get past the random ‘spider part.’ And in almost all of those, the spiders are just generic obstacles. Their spider-ness doesn’t really serve any other purpose. We just need someone in the industry to hire an out of work sci fi writer to make shit up. Yes, aliens would be unrealistic, but no more than an unexplained 4 foot tall arachnid.

  6. statueofmike April 29, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    What about spider-like animals? How many legs do there have to be? What if the spider moves more like a mammal? What if the game is supposed to be a little scary?

    Also, you should look again at that source you cite for the prevalence of arachnophobia. It doesn’t actually list prevalence at all, just some kind of arbitrary “Top” listing. The about.com list on phobia prevalence is here: http://phobias.about.com/od/prevalence/Prevalence_of_Phobias.htm
    Arachnophobia isn’t top.

    I love spiders. There’s a cool NOVA:Science Now episode about arachnid cannibalism.

    Also, consider the people with phobias of dogs. I wonder how they deal with all the Mabari.

  7. Tals April 30, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    I’m so glad that the giant cricket isn’t among the giant animals.

    You want to talk stupid phobias, I’m willing to admit mine is so retarded it hurts. Spiders don’t scare me in the slightest. Yet I recognise how scary they can be when you enlarge them. Their features ooze fear. The many legs, the fangs, the poison, the hair, the eyes. I get it, I’ll never call it an unreasonable fear. I squash about 5 a day though, so I really don’t get phased.

    I on the other hand, am afraid of the humble cricket. I have no idea why. It’s stupid, they are a completely unscary creature. But when they jump at me? I’ll be damned if I’m hanging around.

  8. Flashing Astonisher April 30, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    So yeah…I also made an account just to comment on this article. I haaaaatte spiders. I go through the roof a little bit when I see one. Two spider related video game tales-

    My wife laughs hysterically at me when I’m playing DA2 cos I sit forward on the couch and start screaming at the television. She thinks it’s hilarious, and secretly hopes for a spider around every corner. It’s okay though, I still love her.

    I used to put a second quarter in the machine on the spider boss in House of the Dead. I’d grab the other gun, jam them both up against the screen, shut my eyes and yell incoherently while i pulled both triggers as fast as I could. Good times.

    Effin’ spiders.

  9. Bill Abner April 30, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    I never did ask Todd how he handled the Shelob scene in LOTR.

  10. codicier April 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    I think I could have written a very similar article to this myself except mine would have been called “It’s time to retire jumping puzzles in first person games”. As you may guess I have a phobia of heights, and I vividly remember the trauma of having to cross the “bridge” level in Half Life 2. A sudden drop makes my heart lurch, even in games as un-immersive as WoW the sensation of the ground being removed from beneath my feet will freak me out every time.

    So believe me when I say I empathise with Todd sentiments about game designers going for cheap scares.

    Back on the subject of arachnophobia I think despite them being the genre which most sets his spider senses tingling, it’s not RPG’s which will pose the biggest threat to Todd in the fullness of time.

    Ladies and gentlemen (Apart from Todd & fellow arachnophobes, who should REALLY skip the next paragraph)(I’m not kidding, don’t do it) let me paint you a (very badly constructed) picture.

    *It’s the near future and the Brakke family are gathered together in front of their brand new Xbox 720 (with built in Kinect & 3D!) HDTV home cinema set-up, and they have just fired up Peter Molyneux’s long awaited Milo & Kate game. For a while everything is perfect, the digital boy plays in the digital meadow, butterfly’s drift out of the screen, and the long grass gently sways, they shout encouragement at Milo and wave to him. They are the very picture of Microsoft’s ideal audience,the happy family enjoying gaming together. But this idyllic scene is not destined to last….
    ‘Daddy!’ says one of the children ‘Milo has something to show us!’ Milo is close now, and all eyes are drawn to his tightly clasped hands as he reaches out of the screen towards the family. As his hands begin to open the shadows flow back, light begins to creep between his fingers and a shape slowly becomes clear.
    A leg?
    Multiple legs?
    A dark mass which could be a body?
    Recognition begins to flood Todd’s mind, ‘Look!’ he hears the child say, their happy voice somehow strangely echoing the silent scream building inside his mind ‘It’s a spider!’
    Milo runs off into the digital meadow smiling his arachnoid captive grasped tightly again in his hands, Todd gently rocks back and forth behind the couch.*

    So fellow phobics of various colours, if you thought games could freak you out now, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
    The next gen is coming, and its going to get you at the moment you least expect it (& in 3D!)

  11. themanmonkey April 30, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    Have you played Limbo? I can’t remember if the spider in there was ever discussed during the podcast last year. Everybody should play that game even if you have to go through a few sections with your eyes closed. Being a gibbering mess in the corner of a closet is worth it for that game.

  12. Bioluminescence May 1, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    Remember when you were playing D&D (or imagine, if you never have) and your DM would take the greatest relish in describing the horrible, bile-raising, ichor-dripping, inhuman-atrocity that you were trying to defeat?

    Or how about when you were all telling scary stories around the campfire/bonfire/torch/flashlight, and that one kid took their precious time explaining how the girl was falling, falling, falling, down into the inky, black, freezing cold water at the bottom of the well.

    Common, primal, fears are gold in any situation where you want to get your claws into the fear centers of your audience or players. Unfortunately, in both of these situations, the DM, or the storyteller, is generally trusted not to be an ass if someone has a real, crippling, phobia. You don’t tell a story about someone’s trigger – it’s just not bloody done.

    But how can a game designed for an audience of 5 million avoid all the phobias? It can’t – not when there are people scared of crickets, bunnies, open environments, ducks staring at them, or anything with scaly skin. There’s just too many. Perhaps they need an “Eldar Scrolls” or “Ultima” style personality test before the game starts to find out your phobias and do a mesh-swap on the worst offenders?

  13. Labreya May 1, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    “But how can a game designed for an audience of 5 million avoid all the phobias?”

    They’re not trying to avoid phobias. Hence why they use spiders. They don’t use spiders just for a generic enemy. If they just want an enemy, there’s plenty of options besides the eight legged freaks.

    The problem now is not that people are scared of spiders, but that spiders are overdone. Nearly to death. Games just churn them out. Everyone has spiders because everyone else has spiders. People who fear spiders have problems playing the games, whereas people with no issues are getting sick of the damn things.

    If game developers were smart about the fear, they wouldn’t put a physical object on screen. They’d implant the idea in your mind that there MAY BE the thing you fear around the next bend, and leave you to scare yourself.

    A great example is Silent Hill 2. Being backed into a corner by enemies or Pyramid Head could be creepy and scary, but that moment where you’re walking through dark, abandoned hallways in total silence was always far worse. You’d get to a stage where you wanted the enemies to crawl from the woodwork, just so you knew where they were.

  14. Ahtaps May 1, 2011 at 2:44 am #

    I’m jumping on the “Post about spiders, sign me up!” bandwagon. I am not entirely irrational about my arachnophobia, if I have a blunt object and there’s a spider, I am quite happy to bludgeon it into a slimy paste with a slightly crazed look in my eyes. As long as they stay well away from me, I will stay way away from them.

    Thus spiders in games make me cringe but as long as I have any kind of means to dispatch them I’m ok. Send your legions of shadows from the darkest pits of the realms in which nightmares dwell and I will laugh, send a spider and I’ll close my eyes and swing my sword of +10 chopping wildly while screaming like a little girl.

    That said, I’m also slightly acrophobic and feel vertigo and discomfort playing games that have high ledges (eg. Prince of Persia, Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed, etc.). I’m also uncomfortable with any game that involves swimming sections. (That one fight in Shadow of the Colossus was rather unnerving for me)

  15. Llewyn May 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    It’s not the aliens you can see that are scary, it’s the ones you can’t. Being a wuss I quit out of the intro level without managing to work out if the ones I could occasionally see had six or eight legs. And I don’t even suffer from arachnophobia.

  16. Todd Brakke May 2, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    “How can a game designed for an audience of 5 million avoid all the phobias?”

    They can’t. At the end of the day any game like this is likely to end up playing on someone’s phobia. Fortunately, I really only care about me. :)

    Seriously, though, I have two grievances with the spider thing. 1) Someone with, for example, a fear of heights just isn’t going to play Assassin’s Creed because that’s what the game is all about. There are plenty of other options for that player. Giant spiders end up in *every* RPG. Back when video games could only render so much it wasn’t as big a deal. Spiders would make me uncomfortable in a game like Baldur’s Gate, but they were so obviously animated it wasn’t the end of the world. Even the “small” spiders in a game like DA2 I can stomach. It’s when they exaggerate the form into massively grotesque quasi-realistic proportions that I lose my shit. And 2) Where some phobias are relatively niche, arachnophobia is as common a phobia as you’re going to find. When you’re designing for a million-plus people, you have to know giant spiders are going to hit the most people and hit them hard. Whereas that killer bunny rabbit you’re so proud of (you being the designer) really only affects a much smaller minority.

    It may be different for other people, but I’ll also point out, just because you give a creature eight legs, that doesn’t make it play off that phobia. There are a couple spider-esque creatures in DA2 that don’t bother me in the slightest because they lack the details that -to me at least- make a spider a spider. This is where I wish more RPG devs would go. You’re doing a fantasy game. Get creative. Make something up. Giant spiders are a cheap way of provoking horror in the player.

  17. Todd Brakke May 2, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    By rarely looking directly at the screen. Not proud of that fact, but it’s true.

  18. Todd Brakke May 2, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Lots of posts on this over the weekend and I don’t have enough time this morning to respond to them all. My thanks to everyone for contributing!

    I did want to hit a couple general points. One, I knew when I wrote this there would be some who would choose to get antagonistic in their thoughts on it, especially with regards to the whole “it’s a game and can’t hurt you angle.” That’s fine. I’d actually point out the giant spiders in video games actually trigger my phobia more than do actual spiders. Actual spiders I absolutely do not like, the larger ones in particular, but I can deal with them. Video game spiders do *more* to trigger my phobic response than the real thing. The giant spiders in DA2, the one pictured in the Skyrim shot, and scenario described for Witcher 2… those are the nightmare visions of the most horrible thing a spider *could* be. That does nothing to help alleviate fear. Those spiders are specifically designed and placed to exacerbate it. They are there to do harm. A real spider is not actually any of those things. If I were interested in overcoming my fear of spiders I’d do so by learning about real spiders and not submitting myself to the malevolent and nigh unstoppable nightmare visions found in games.

    I also think it’s antithetical to the games in which they’re being used. If I wanted to be horrified by the grotesque I would play Dead Space. Although you could certainly do a legit horror-based RPG, most fantasy RPG games are not intended to be horror games. DA2 is not horror. To add that element, and Bioware knew what they were doing (as do Bethesda and CD Projekt), is unnecessary and in no way adds to the game when you’re talking about playing with as common a phobia as you’re going to find.

    And no, you can’t design around every phobia out there, but that doesn’t explain why every RPG feels compelled to include the giant spider, which is, again, as common a phobia as there is. If it were just one game you’d not hear a peep from me about it beyond… GYUH! :) Got a fear of heights? Don’t play Assassin’s Creed. That’s what that game is about. You’ve got other options that won’t hit that vulnerability nearly as hard. What’s an RPG player to do? Not play RPGs? They’re in *all* of them and it’s getting worse with each passing year. It used to be just a spider-like thingie charging down your character. Not a big deal. Now we’re talking about representations of ginormous proportions, unbelievable graphic detail, and worse (the Witcher 2 description). I think there are better places for developers to put their design efforts.

    And, folks, let’s keep in mind that although I wrote that piece about a legit concern, it was meant to be light in tone. I’m not over here seething at devs for their use of spiders in games. It was a fun post to write and meant to be a fun post to read. If you want to get angry at a guy having a strong opinion about overuse of spiders in RPGs and trying to have some fun with it that’s you’re prerogative, but I’m not interested in sparring any further about it.

  19. McKay May 2, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Was going to mention Limbo. I don’t like spiders, but I can deal with them in games. The spider in Limbo freaked me the hell out. It’s the sound effects used with it… just made my skins absolutely crawl.

  20. McKay May 2, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    If it makes you feel any better, zombies creep me the hell out. I mean, irrationally, I hate them with the fire of a thousand suns fear. I beat the original RE, forcing myself to get through it since it was fun. I tried to replay the GC remake, to show my wife (then girlfriend) and threw my controller screaming when they changed the mechanics on some of them and made them run. So, yeah, zombies. Imagine my thrill when not only every RPG has zombies, but a million other games focus on the theme as well. Even effing Harry Potter has zombies for god’s sake.

    Oh, and my wife has an irrational fear of whales. True story.

  21. Todd Brakke May 2, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    So I’m guessing your wife probably isn’t a big fan of Star Trek IV then? :)

    The most interesting part of the commentary on this post, to me, is to see what “iconic” thing makes different people uncomfortable (zombies in your case) and try to think about putting my reaction to spiders in the context of that thing (where normally I’d not feel anything at all). It’s very foreign and makes it easier to understand why someone who, say, doesn’t have an irrational fear of spiders would be very dismissive of those that do have it. It’s bizarre and fascinating how the mind works on that level and what underlies it.

  22. Bioluminescence May 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    “Giant spiders are a cheap way of provoking horror in the player.”

    Indeed – and in such an incredibly content-demanding environment such as an RPG, asking a dev to resist using a ‘cheap way to provoke horror’ is like asking a modern taboid editor not to use associated press content. It can be done, but it’s way more labor intensive.

    Yes, they could create alternative fantasy creatures – but most of them will look stupid. The vast majority of them won’t be scary – just daft looking. In the time it takes to create one original and unnerving beastie, they could have cranked out half a dozen giant-prefixed real world creatures – spiders, rats, snakes, scorpions, slugs, worms, earwigs, and more. In the time that they could use to create a novel, exciting environment – they could crank out a hundred claustrophobic and nyctophobic nightmares in the form of dark, cramped, dripping caves and dungeons.

    Also, phobias aren’t a binary deal – it’s a continuum. For every person that really can’t deal with their trigger, there are doubtless hundreds of people who get the creeps, or briefly shudder. Exactly the kind of effect the designers are hoping for. They’re not adding spiders for the people who are bored of them – they’re not even adding it for the people who lose their nerve and step away from the keyboard/controller (why would anyone want people to stop playing their game?) – they add them for the middle range – the vast majority. If the 8-legged non-spider doesn’t bother you, then it won’t put the heebeegeebies in the pleasantly-unnerved people either.

    So, my short response – creating spider-alternatives is A) very time intensive, and B) unlikely to effectively ‘scare’ anyone anyway. Primal fears are always going to be plumbed for game (and book and film and play and…) shortcuts. Unfortunately, I don’t see stopping any time soon.

    Maybe try RPGs that don’t share an ancestry with D&D?

  23. Todd Brakke May 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    That’s all valid but also strikes to my comment near the top of the thread. RPGs aren’t horror games. I mean, yeah, you can make an RPG that’s meant to play in horror, but a fantasy RPG by and large isn’t a horror game and I think devs need to be careful how far they go out of their way to provoke those feelings. If I want to be abhorred by the grotesque I’ll play Dead Space, ya know? :)

  24. Plum May 3, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    I hate spiders but I’m totally fine with scorpions and other arachnids. If developers could offer a toggle to show all spiders as scorpions (even if it’s the same animation and webby home, nothing but a change of skin) then I would be very happy!

    My only saving grace is that my boyfriend hates them more than I do – at least I can stand to be in the same room as one so long as it’s not moving and a long way away. He will just shut the door and pretend that room doesn’t exist until I get home.

  25. Labreya April 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    My boyfriend is exactly the same. He locks up at the site of big spiders on screen. I’m talking total deer-in-the-headlights type stuff.

    Generaly, I have to fight them for him. Even looking at the corpses weirds him out.

  26. Todd Brakke April 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    The corpses get me too. I deal with them because they’re not moving, but… again… gyuh!

  27. Mindboggler April 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    My girlfriend does this whenever she’s confronted by a worm of any kind. Seriously. A little tiny struggling worm and she runs for it. I have to go get the offending creature and remove it from the house. Needless to say, anytime there’s any type of wormy creature in a videogame she’s weirded out and wants nothing to do with it.

    I often wonder what that worm would think if it knew it had the power to impart that kind of fear into a giant. Probably just brag to his friends.

  28. Michael Barnes April 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    Giant spiders and other outsized vermin go back to classic heroic fantasy. Old sword and sorcery heroes were practically Orkin men.

    I’m not scared of spiders at all…but yeah, I’m kind of tired of fighting them. More tired of fighting rats though, as in “my storehouse is filled with rats- mighty hero, could you go kill X number of them for me?”

    There is a really good giant spider in Outland…

  29. JonJacob April 29, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    I used to be this way. A friend of mine brought a dead trantula out to show me.. in a cage no less and I ran out of his house refusing to come back in until he got rid of the spider. But I changed…

    There was a really sexy girl I met at a tree planting camp and if I wanted to sleep in her tent (and I really did want that) then I would have to live with the spider on her ceiling. I did it for love/lust and I never looked back. I still don’t like them but my “irrational fear” is gone and moved into slightly more rational territory.

    The reason developers use them so much is because it is the most populate irrational fear. What better way to evoke an emotional response then to go for the throat in one of the most garunteed to work fashions available?

  30. Todd Brakke April 29, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    If all spider phobia therapy used that method I’m sure I’d be cured in a matter of days.

  31. Labreya April 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    It’s irrational. Most people with phobias recognise they have no reason to be afraid, but feel fear anyway. The picture puts the object in their mind, and the fear develops from it.

    I don’t get why you’d freak out when an insect crawls on you. I commonly let spiders walk on me when I take them from the room for my boyfriend. If I notice one walking down my arm when I’m outdoors I leave it there. I used to let swarms of ants wander over my arm to freak people out. I’d get a laugh and at most a few bites. I wouldn’t call your personal level of fear a joke.

    If you have an irrational fear, why treat someone elses as a joke?

  32. Todd Brakke April 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    How is you not being able to “sit still” watching the the Temple of Doom different from anyone else have the same reaction to spiders in a video game?

    At any rate, the post is 50/50 (joke/real). I absolutely pathologically do not like spiders and their ever increasingly authentic designs in games is a problem. The post itself is also meant to entertain (while making a point) and uses language to do that. Feel about that how you will.

  33. reifnir April 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    I’m not making fun of arachnaphobes or the author, I’d totally understand if one freaked out when an actual or perceived spider was on their person.

    I just had difficulty conceiving of a fight-or-flight, absolute terror reaction from the clearly fictional representation of one’s object of fear. That sounds more like PTSD than a simple phobia.

  34. reifnir April 29, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    I was suggesting that spiders on some toon in a game is on a different scale to seeing seemingly real spiders on an actual person. But after thinking about it, that distinction is subjective and arbitrary. I apologize that the tone of my first post was trollish. Sorry about that. :)

  35. tempest April 29, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    I’m the same way with sharks. It seems that any game requiring prolonged underwater exploration also involves unusually hostile sharks. Not cool. I often have to turn the game off and go quietly have a panic attack. Sure it’s irrational, but phobias often are.

    Also, that was a pretty funny article. :)

  36. Panick April 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    But now those giant scorpions, those freak me out! I hate scorpions and the giant black ones every game developer loves that are impossible to see in the dark I hate even more! My skin was crawling all through Fallout 3.

    But you know the only cure for a phobia is exposure so maybe all them RPG devs are doing us a favor in disguise. I mean I still ain’t out to go petting any giant scorpions…

  37. Danjuro April 29, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    Some of us might even post their first comment to write silly things like :
    I am fond of spiders. Now centipedes are a whole other matter…

    I can somehow relate to what you are feeling, Todd, in a different contest, and I am not quite joking either : I absolutely love games taking place in cosmos, but I am disturbed or worse by “close-up” representations of stars or planets, especially real pictures (There must be a wonderful neo-greekish word defining that condition). As long as games were quite abstract, as Elite or Frontier, it was okay, but the progress in graphics made some games absolutely a no-go for me – I remember totally freaking out in Star Trek Starfleet Academy because of this…

  38. Llewyn May 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    I think the bigger question is how many potential commenters you scared away by threatening to hand out free copies of Homefront.

    Edit: Also, Danjuro, I’m right with you on the centipedes, at least beyond a certain size. The horror :-(

  39. maceman April 30, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Labreya, I’m not afraid of spiders… and your post freaked me out :P

    Note: Wolverines are afraid of spiders… and Buckeyes. this is a known truth.

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image

You must be logged in to post a comment.