Understanding Horror Audiences

May 13, 2024

Halloween has always been the perfect opportunity to test your nerve while playing the spookiest video game or sitting in suspense over a horror film. But horror isn't just for Halloween. 

Feel-Good Horror

If, like me, you have to watch a horror film behind a duvet, then you might be interested to know why you continue to watch horror films even though they terrify you. According to Professor Glenn Sparks at Purdue University, this feeling is due to an 'excitation transfer process'. Though the film may feel terrifying to watch, the fearful responses including; raised heart rate and blood pressure linger long after the movie ends. This heightened state makes any experience after watching the film feel even better, e.g. having fun with friends. So next time you are looking for a pick me up - give a horror film a try. 

For the avid horror fans, it's more than the feel-good factor that draws them to this genre. Horror games and films deliver an adrenalin rush that can feel scary to some, but for 10% of the population, this is the rush they are after. You horror fans can now safely put yourself in the same category as roller coaster fans and extreme sports enthusiasts!  

Horror Games vs Horror Films

For many, watching horror stories play out the big screen is more challenging than immersing yourself in the story via a video game. But why? Despite the realistic graphics and first-person gaming experiences, the reason many people enjoy and can cope with horror games is that they know it is just a game. Jamie Madigan, author of Getting Gamers: The Psychology of Video Games, suggests that the relief in knowing you are safe is very comforting. (This is of course void when you are playing VR game, and your colleague taps you on your shoulder. TERRIFYING.)

The sense of control also makes horror games extra compelling to play; these games allow you to move away from danger and even switch off the game if it gets too spooky. Game developers have argued that video games are often more frightening than films because they 'go beyond making you feel scared, and they make you scared' (Phillipe Morin).

Finding Horror Audiences

The cross over between film and gaming makes gaming environments one of the best places to find horror fans. Audiences seen on our portfolio of core gaming publishers are 188% more likely to be interested in horror films than the average population. They are also 195% more likely to play horror video games. 

Resident Evil 2 is just one example of a game delivering so well that it was recreated for PS4 17 years later for PS4. The use of real actors in games and the rise of more immersive gaming formats such as VR have taken horror games to a whole new level. 

When promoting your next Horror Film or Horror Game, get in touch to see how we can reach the most relevant audiences across our portfolio.