The Trash Horror Collection and The Audacity of Asking
I play a lot of horror games. You know that, I know that, we all know that. Every week I sit down to explore the strange and even funny bits of horror. So it should come as no surprise to you that I’ve been shown something so repulsive, so downright unapproachable, so…trashy, that I couldn’t pass it up. Our slogan here at DreadXP is “positively spooky” so I bet you’re wondering why I’m opening this by outwardly insulting the game I’m going to cover. Well, bear with me, because it’s going to get a bit weird before it makes sense.
The Trash Horror Collection, as it’s named, is a collection of 12 short horror games all made by one developer: 616 Games. The definition of “trash” in the title is left entirely up to you. Is it evocative of the exploitation films of the 80’s? Well, the description says it is, so that may be the answer. Is the title instead calling the games poorly made or poorly thought out? Screenshots might lead you to believe that, but you could dispel the notion by playing the games. Maybe it means trash in the sense that they’re not worth what the developer is charging for the game? Who knows? It’s all very open-ended. All I know is that I went in expecting, well, trash, and I came away with a hell of a lot of appreciation for 616 Games. What they’ve done here isn’t unique, but it is special. Follow?
No one ever talks about the dialogue in old horror movies. They want to focus on the few minutes of absolute insanity. No one remembers how slow the first 30 minutes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is; they just focus on Leatherface chasing teens through the woods at night. We’re good at blocking out non-exciting things. If The Trash Horror Collection evokes anything from the trash films of the 70’s and 80’s, it is its ability to lull you into boredom before hitting you with a memorable scare. Almost all the games play out like this: You’re exploring a mostly empty place, something creepy is happening, something gross/violent happens, the game ends. It is audacious on its face in the funnest of way. There are 3 Poop Killer games for crying out loud!
The other thing I appreciate about The Trash Games Collection is that it costs money. I think that developers often undervalue their work to the point of burning themselves out on the craft. It almost seems like a sin these days to bring up charging for a game among indie developers. There is this idea of “selling out” if you actually, you know, sell your game. Why is indie game development one of the few professions where it’s seen as a bad thing to charge for the fruits of your labor? I’ve often seen the argument that indie games are art, and therefore exempt from mass consumption. To that I reply, “Art is regularly the most expensive thing sold at upscale auction houses the world over”. You can put effort, blood, sweat, and tears into something and then sell it. It’s fine. You could paint me as some type of terrifying capitalist for believing in radical ideas like, “you should get paid for the work you do”, but I’ll continue to shout from the rooftops that your work is worth money. The Trash Horror Collection says, “yeah, here are 12 games. I worked hard on them, and I expect you to pay for them”.
It’s almost a repudiation of indie horror standards of decorum and I love it. I hope that more developers will see the example put forth here and go for it more often. In the grand scheme of things I just appreciate the absolute nerve of 616 Games. They come out and say that their games are trash and it feels like almost a dare to people like me. Trash games you say? I’ll be the judge of that! And then I’m sitting here typing a thousand words about labor vs. capital in the indie horror games space while tirelessly promoting and grandstanding a game that has already judged itself trash. Well played, 616 Games. In a world where small indie developers are releasing their passion for free, with only the hopes that a youtuber who makes more money than all of us combined might play the game, with an even smaller chance for them to actually read out loud who made it in their video, 616 Games is saying fuck it, pay me for the experience up front, and tell me what you think later.
They aren’t waiting on the market. They know their audience. They know who they make games for, and it really seems like they make games for me, and you, and everyone out there trying their damndest to make it work. Their work is unapproachable in the most approachable way. A strange mishmash of ideas that sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t, but would make the world a poorer place if it didn’t exist. I salute you, trashmakers of the world. May your reign last forever. Shine on you crazy diamonds. Make up your own mind HERE.