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The Evil Within – Inherent fears and why we have them

We speak to creator Shinji Mikami and consultant psychiatrist Dr Russell Green.

We sat down with the Godfather of survival horror, Shinji Mikami, to see how he generates fear in his new game The Evil Within. He told us:

[quote]Creating a sense of ‘relief’ is key in creating fear; after a long tense situation there is a moment where the player feels slightly relaxed or off-guard. Sometimes we intentionally delay the timing of the scare from when people are expecting it to happen.[/quote]

In the game, Shinji Mikami uses his own and other people’s real-life experiences with fear to create a more genuine scare factor.

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We also spoke to consultant psychiatrist Dr Russell Green about instinctive fears and where these come from.

Why do you naturally fear some things?

The reality is you’re more at the mercy of our evolution than you like to think. Many of your commonest phobias represent the kind of fears that were useful to your human and non-human ancestors.

Natural fears and where they come from

  • Spiders: Your ancestors as small primates would have been more at risk and more exposed to venomous spiders, so it makes sense that they would evolve to avoid ‘creepy crawlies’.
  • Heights: This comes pre-programmed from your ancestors who lived in the wild. If you watch small children as they learn to walk and crawl they will often stop at lines and edges which is a simple way of watching out for drops.
  • Birds: The average sparrow is unlikely to pose much of a threat to even a newborn but on the African savannah your smaller pre-human ancestors would have been prey for eagles.
  • The Dark: Humans don’t see well in the dark but many of the animals that saw your ancestors as food did. Darkness was a time to take cover and avoid being caught by predators.
  • Being Alone: Like the dark, this was a dangerous situation for your ancestors. They relied on being in a group to make up for our physical weakness and to provide many eyes to keep look out.

Many natural fears go back to when your ancestors lived in the wild and over millions of years these have been passed on to you through evolution. These pre-programmed fears will remain with you as the species evolves further, while things that now cause regular threats in your daily lives, such as cars and electricity, are not feared by modern man because they have only threatened you in the past 150 years.

EF will be bringing you a full review of The Evil Within later this month. The game is out now on PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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