The Scary Side of Gaming

The Scary Side of Gaming

When I got back into gaming as an adult, I started with Majora’s Mask . The deeper into the fandom I dug, the more delighted I was with the depth of the game. Then I found the Ben Drowned story. This was my very fist encounter with urban legends and video games. I admit, it creeped me out. But eventually the idea that some low-polygon effigy of Link was haunted grew tiresome. Thus, I decided to seek out more game-centred urban legends and maybe slightly more legitimate ones.

Herobrine (Minecraft)

Admittedly, when working the depths of your own personal cave of wonders, it’s easy to get a little creeped out by a sudden Endermite or Creeper. A ghost, however, will not be defeated by a few sword swipes. Herobrine is another version of the player character, made to look eyeless. His first appearance definitely sounds like a hacker with a terrible sense of humour. During a livestream, a player saw Herobrine in the middle of a lava field. The stream suddenly crashed and redirected viewers to a picture of the ghost. The source of the page had an even more eerie message: “It has been reported that some victims of torture, during the act, would retreat into a fantasy world from which they could not WAKE UP. In this catatonic state, the victim lived in a world just like their normal one, except they weren’t being tortured. The only way that they realized they needed to WAKE UP was a note they found in their fantasy world. It would tell them about their condition, and tell them to WAKE UP. Even then, it would often take months until they were ready to discard their fantasy world and PLEASE WAKE UP.”

Most of the Minecraft community knows the entire incident was staged. The streamer in question wrote in detail how he wanted to be a part of the story and constructed a supposed sighting of the ghost. This story is a clear example of how difficult it is to spread the belief of something supernatural when nothing happened in the first place. The internet has a way of recording everything and it’s impossible to not verify a ‘ghost’ so reliant on existing within such an open source game. This is a favorite of mine for exactly that reason. Herobrine is an urban legend in the making and it is only a matter of time before there is an ‘honest’ sighting. The process, to me, is beyond fascinating. It’s a little scary how easily a simple story can spread.

Lavender Town Music (Pokemon Red & Blue)

Up second is something that is quite disturbing that was created long before the internet could debunk coincidences: the legendary Lavender Town music. Just as famous as Ben Drowned, this legend is a little more horrific. Whereas one might expect something like Lavender Town to exist in Majora’s Mask , it is not quite as fitting in Pokémon Red or Blue . The game, normally about friendship, exploring, and catching cute creatures, has a graveyard in the form of Lavender Town. In true Japanese fashion, a Pokemon spirit haunts a tower where trainers mourn their dead Pokemon. Some of these trainers haven’t handled the death of their friends very well, becoming possessed and not a little crazy.

That’s not even the creepy part. In 1996, it was supposedly reported that at least 200 children committed suicide after hearing the Lavender Town tune, with more reporting significant headaches. The running theory is that the song included high-pitched notes that were not audible to adults. The details of these deaths are quite gruesome, as a few cases recorded children who had begun sawing off their limbs, sticking their faces inside the oven, or choking themselves on their own fists. Ugh, that makes me queasy just thinking about it!

The Scary Side of Gaming

Here’s what really makes Lavender Town so much worse than Herobrine. It would be very difficult to verify any of the information given for the legend. The language barrier, especially in ’96, was a lot thicker than it is today. Heck, even now sifting through all those Japanese interviews and reports would require a thorough knowledge of the language most Americans just don’t have access to. I remember researching for Kojima’s Death Stranding and hitting a dead end because the book Kojima mentioned was just not translated in full yet – and probably never will be. I can’t begin to imagine trying to find translations of anything so obscure and long ago as these reports.

Information, as you can tell, has a lot to do with the formation of an urban legend. The less there is, the easier it is to make the rest up. Herobrine is explained away by clearly having been created by someone and the legend furthered with pranks by fans. Lavender Town though, we’ll never know. Were the deaths random or did they really have something to do with the song? Well, now that I’ve thoroughly creeped myself out, time to hide under my bed!

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