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Helpless spectators : generating suspense in videogames and film
Text Technology
  • Jonathan FROME, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Aaron SMUTS, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Document Type
Journal article
Publication Date
McMaster University * Humanities Communications Centre

Films and videogames both generate emotions in the viewer/player, but due to their inherent differences, often do so in ways specific to each medium. This article looks at the emotion of suspense as a test case to evaluate that generalization. We contend that, although each medium does have unique features that can be used to generate suspense, these media share surprising similarities. We argue that videogames can be most effective in generating suspense not by highlighting their unique ability to be interactive, but, to the contrary, by limiting interactivity at key points, thereby turning players into helpless spectators. Our analysis highlights a previously overlooked factor in film's ability to generate suspense: helplessness.

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Citation Information
Frome, J. & Smuts, A. (2004). Helpless spectators: generating suspense in videogames and film. Text Technology, 13(1), 13-34.