A timeline of Lovecraftian horror games and a request

I had fun putting together a timeline of Lovecraftian games which have won an award of some type or another (and also including Theatre, which was very popular but existed before most awards). I remember thinking it was odd that many of the really good, long games were inspired by Lovecraft. Some people hate it, and some people love it, but I’ve always enjoyed it.

It’s available at: http://ifdb.tads.org/viewlist?id=19wqe6h183ycwgr5

I posted it on Euphoria, and some people mentioned that there were very few Lovecraft games in this decade, and probably no Twine Lovecraft games (except perhaps The Ritual).

So my request is, could someone(s) make a web-based game or two that is Lovecraft inspired? There are so many comps going around, it might be hard to find the time, but I think it would be fun to see the tradition continue in new formats.

(I know I could make my own, but Twine seems harder to use to me than Inform 7).

I wonder if the lack of Lovecraftian Twines is related to Twine-culture’s inclination toward radical inclusivity and Lovecraft’s inclination, well, away.

Hehehe.

In response to OP, pretty much all Marshall Tenner Winter’s games are Lovecraft-inspired, and all from last 5 years.

If by ‘this decade’ you mean the logical thing (2010-2019), there are fewer overall, but if you just mean the last 10 years, it opens up a bit more.

On IFDB, try these searches:

tag:Lovecraftian

tag:Lovecraft

EDIT: Those searches are well targeted, but the number of games in IFDB overall that have the word Lovecraft anywhere in their names or bios is probably small enough that you could just type in ‘Lovecraft’, if you have not already.

-Wade

Thanks for the responses! I’ll have to try MTW’s games.

That’s interesting about the inclusivity; it makes sense not to perpetuate the work of someone who attacked others. My dad doesn’t watch any Tom Hanks movies because he’s said a lot of harsh things about Mormons. On the other hand, I still enjoy Wagner’s operas quite a bit, even though he was an anti-Semite.

Yeah, totally – it is okay to like things that have problematic aspects, and also there are plenty of Lovecraftian-style things that are not Lovecraftian in the sense of “deeply imbued with a horror of people that are unlike yourself.” I’m not dismissing the genre entirely. I’m just saying that, as themes go, I could see “horror of the Other” not being a central fascination of the Twine zeitgeist.

I totally see what you’re saying. I feel like the horror in Twine is mostly the horror of yourself; who am I, who do I want to be, what are other people trying to make me be, body and gender identity. I really like this type of horror as well.

I think Twine is still pretty new and its user demographic is still pretty limited. If its authors are mostly young, English-speaking Internet users with a taste for a nonconformist art style, does it surprise anyone that many of them are liberal, queer, minority race, etc.? Consider the medium.

I also think plenty of Twine games take quite a few cues from the “Lovecraftian” genre whether they know it or not; I’m still exploring the Twine community, but that famous Porpentine style seems pretty Lovecraftian to yours truly.

An article I read on Howard P. last year (source escapes me, sorry) observed that his racist worldview and possible bipolar/paranoia/depression/etc. gave his fiction a lot of its urgency and tension. Lovecraft’s prose was pretty lousy, but the universe he lived in – terrifying, full of monsters, aliens, and uncaring gods – was positively arresting. And it’s his ideas and settings, not the prose style, that persisted and spawned the Lovecraftian genre.

[rant]Imagine how exciting the world looks to a galloping racist. It’s you vs. Them. There’s no need to compromise or coexist, or to study Their ways, and indeed it won’t do you any good to try, since They are inscrutable and inhuman; your only safety is to flee or fight Them. If your moral status leaves something to be desired*, it’s golden compared to that of your enemies. Very thrilling, yes? The stuff good stories and good games are made of. Likewise if you’re paranoid. To write a good horror yarn, you have to invoke fear, and nobody knows more about fear than someone with a deep phobia.

It was even more so in Lovecraft’s own time. People in his country saw a world full of dangerous foreign powers, and one way they tried to cope was by enacting rigid moral codes and condemning everyone “other.” [size=85]Kind of like they did again during the 1950s, and again in the 2010s… why yes, I am a historian, and I do get tired of repeating this shit.[/size]

  • Just about every thinking person will admit his moral status could use improvement. This is especially true for Christians (thinking or otherwise), very especially American Protestants, who often teach that everyone is deeply and inherently flawed by a destiny they cannot control. (Hello, baleful stars and devouring demons.) And nobody thought that more than the Puritans who founded New England. Notice where Lovecraft lived?[/rant]

what’s interesting is that the genre survived its time and continues to thrive now, not by appealing to racism and Puritanism, but by appealing to the fringe Lovecraft himself once feared. Nowadays many Lovecraftian horror fans are “odd” people who see the world a little differently. They have an interest (dare I say affinity?) for the monsters, because they are weird themselves. They may also be slightly depressive, and frequently atheist, which possibly attracts them to a genre featuring apathetic gods and doomed worlds. Maybe I’m getting the chicken and egg mixed up here, but that’s my hypothesis.

I’m a huge fan of Lovecraft-inspired work, I always find the setting so easy to get lost in. I think all the points made here are salient, and there’s another I’d like to add: Lovecraft focuses on a protagonist’s inability to change the course of events. His nihilism means that whatever is happening has been set in motion long ago, and won’t stop because of you. The efforts of the narrator are always futile and result in their own demise. So in the realm of interactive fiction, I think that many storytellers feel that they must create an illusion of agency for the player. This is a difficult task, and can make the entire interactive experience feel purposeless. Why make it interactive if you’re going to railroad them along on your story, anyways?

I think the lack of Lovecraftian Twines partially stems from this design principle.

That’s a really interesting point, Zigtalk! Parser IF loves the form “figure out what happened here by poking in the rubble,” and that’s much more of a fit for the ancient-buried-monstrosities story. (Not that there isn’t choice-based stuff about places and objects, just that there’s a lot of parser that is.)