Do Haunted Games Exist? Can I Buy One?
In the last decade or so, haunted video games have been all the rage. Ben Drowned, Sonic.exe, that one with the haunted version of Morrowind. It’s grasped the terminally online by the eyeballs and said, “Look! blast-processed skeletons!”. It’s all a very fun creative writing experiment that we’ve let go of for far too long. The medium has evolved, with full-on let’s plays of mysterious games popping up on Youtube. I love this form of media. There is something inherently creepy about going out of bounds in video games, and having a whole genre of exploring that feeling is great. I want to buy a haunted game though. I want to hold it in my hands and see if it brings horror and destruction down upon me and mine. Let’s go.
I decided that to start I would go to the place that everyone goes for potentially haunted items: Ebay. I usually don’t use the site outside of specific automotive parts that the cowards at the Honda dealership won’t sell me, so it was refreshing to check their video games section for a change. The odds were good that I’d find something, but the goods were odd. It was mostly copies of Haunted House for the Atari 2600. While I’ve not played the game, I have to assume it’s not haunted, as everyone and their mom is selling a copy on Ebay. I moved my search out to consoles as well, because who knows if there is a deeply haunted Atari Jaguar out there in the world, right?
After lots of searching and lots of disappointment, I realized Ebay wasn’t what it was back in the day. In 2006 you could buy a haunted clock, or potentially some uranium. Ebay was safe. Ghosts don’t hang out in safe places. I’d need to go deeper. I checked my local classifieds and realized there’s some kind of pandemic going on, so people aren’t doing a lot of garage sales. My other options were thrift stores. The problem with thrift store games is there is usually no background. You have to buy the game, go home, and wait to see if the foul legions of the dead will attack you while you nap on the couch. It’s time-consuming, and I’m not wasting time with a thrift store.
I wasted time with a thrift store
Okay, so I guess I do have a lot of time. There is only one thrift store in my small town, and I figured if I couldn’t find a haunted game, I could at least check out some cool retro styles. After attaining a jacket with the fringe, I realized my search was fruitless. I was defeated, dejected, devastated, and other D words for alliteration purposes. It’s actually really hard to find a haunted game. I called around, asking my friends if specters had infested their house, borne from the machinations of a long-dead necromancer channeling their evil through a Donkey Kong 64 cartridge. They all said the same thing: “Who are you? Stop calling here.”. Then, inspiration struck. I knew one place that was bound to have at least a haunted console: Haunted PS1
Wherein I drag Haunted PS1 into my already shaky premise.
I reached out on the only medium I know how to operate: Twitter. I sent a desperate plea into the void to please sell me the namesake of Haunted PS1.
Needless to say, negotiations went nowhere. The folks over at Haunted PS1 are great, but they’re not letting go of that console. Completely exhausted, and nearing my word limit for a successful editorial, I made a drastic decision.
I’m going to steal the haunted PS1
I didn’t come to this decision easily. Aiden, who runs the Haunted PS1 Twitter, is really nice. I hated to do this. I don’t know if you knew this, but all Haunted PS1 games are developed on that cursed dev kit. I needed results. This was going to be my Pulitzer, or whatever fancy awards bad metafiction writers get (a Peabody?). I approached in the dark of night to the dark shrine where they keep the console housed. It was surrounded by all manner of pixelated ghouls. The VHS filter was heavy in the air, and I could barely see.
After crouching, hiding in a vent, a locker, and underneath a desk, I finally approached my prize. As I removed it from the glowing, black tendril that feeds its otherworldly crunchy pixel power, I let out a shout of triumph. Luckily, the guards’ pathing worked on sight, not sound. I noisily snuck back out, secure in the knowledge that I now owned a truly haunted video game-adjacent item. So that’s about where it ends. I managed to get the console, but I actually don’t develop games or anything. It pretty much just sits on my shelf. I occasionally get angry messages from Haunted PS1 about how they had to buy a cursed Nintendo 64 and how it’s really interrupting their workflow.
This has gone on long enough
In a world where I regularly deal with horror games, the thought of a haunted game is an added layer of mystique. To think that a combination of bits and bytes could hold some kind of arcane power is enticing. We turn to games for entertainment in an unsure world. The thought of our hobby being infected by an outside influence, a spirit of some kind, is a deeply uncomfortable feeling. I, of course, couldn’t find a haunted game, or haunted console. The folks at Haunted PS1 are true champs for humoring my weirdness.
If you ever do find yourself looking at an unlabeled jewel case at a garage sale…go ahead and buy it. I bet you won’t find a single ghost. You’re more likely to find a well-loved game, haunted only by the memories of the person who kept it so long the only part of it that remains is the worn-out disc.