How My Severe Arachnophobia Translates to My Gaming Life
Real life fears interacting with gaming experiences can be taxing to the mind. For those that feel the same way, you are not alone.
When I watched the gameplay reveal for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order during E3 2019, it only confirmed that this was going to be one of my most anticipated games this year. Knowing that the game was going to be an original single-player adventure in the Star Wars universe, I was looking forward to getting a first look into the game, and it didn’t disappoint. However, as much as I was looking forward to the game itself, one part of the demo provoked one of my greatest fears.
As I saw the demo of Fallen Order, I was optimistic…until I saw them. Giant spiders. Just like that, one of my most anticipated games of the year, gone in the blink of an eye just because I am too scared to fight them. I tried my best to keep my eyes on the screen to see if I could handle it but I had to look away, and I wasn’t even the one playing the game.
I deal with severe arachnophobia. This affects me to the point where I cannot play most games where I have to fight or really interact with spiders (or scorpions) in any way. Most of the time when I tell people about my situation, they don’t believe me. They think I’m joking, but it is true.
With this phobia, there are many iconic games that I could never play because of it: Skyrim, Fallout 3, Dragon Age: Origins, Diablo III, and those are only the start. It honestly gets exhausting, especially when I’m playing a game for hours and then run into giant enemy spiders or scorpions. It is just an accessibility issue that I’ve come to accept when I play games.
The realization of how extreme my fear was happened ten years ago, to the best of my knowledge, with Resident Evil 5. I didn’t really have any interactions with spiders in a video game before, but once I encountered it for the first time in RE5, I knew I couldn’t move forward with the game. Since then, whenever I do have to interact with a spider or scorpion in a game, I do my best to give it at least a try. Sometimes I succeed; most times I fail. My phobia triggers on a case-by-case basis.
A few years ago, I had the ambition to play the older Final Fantasy titles on the PlayStation Vita. While going through the original Final Fantasy, I ran into both spiders and scorpions as enemies, but they really didn’t bother me because they just stood there. Sure, they were scary to look at, but it wasn’t the type of realistic, animated 3D models that we experience in a lot of today’s games; by comparison, I was able to get through that with relative ease.
But most of the time, my arachnophobia makes it pretty hard to get past a surprising number of games. It eventually got to the point where any game that came out that I thought could have even a percentile chance of having arachnid enemies, I would try to find out before getting the game so I wouldn’t waste any time or money. And I still do that to this day.
At the time, this felt like a unique thing to experience while playing games, as I didn’t have any other friends that had this exact fear as well, so I searched online to see if there was anyone else out there like me. There were some; I would find threads here and there that involved someone asking if there happened to be spiders in a specific game, likely for a lot of the same things that I experience. It was comforting to know that there were others like me out there. I didn’t interact with them because I didn’t feel any need to: but all-in-all, it felt reassuring.
There are all different types of fears that can translate to gaming. A very close friend of mine has issues playing through most levels in games that are underwater. When he played through Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, he struggled through playing the underwater parts because of sharks and fear of drowning. Things like this made me realize how others view me when I tell them about my fear and how it affects me in this context.
I’m not here to ask developers to try their best not to put spiders or scorpions in games, because the fear for them is so common, and they make for creepy enemies. But I wanted to bring perspective to others for how real life fears can affect gaming experiences for players. There are gamers out there like me that potentially deal with something similar. Just know that you are not alone.