The journal Studies in Eastern European Cinema has recently published the article Summoning Ghosts of Post-Soviet Spaces: A Comparative Study of the Horror Games Someday You’ll Return and The Medium written by Tereza Fousek Krobová, Justyna Janik, and Jaroslav Švelch. The article is available in open access.
This paper aims to analyse the tension between the universal themes of the horror genre that are appealing for the global public and the local character of the digital games developed by smaller companies/studios from the semi-peripheral countries of Central and Eastern Europe. To examine in-game representation of game spaces as well as the authorial intention and production processes behind their inclusion, we combine close readings of the two titles with interviews with their designers of two digital games: Someday You’ll Return and The Medium. Both games target an international audience but heavily feature real-life domestic locations and landmarks. The digitally represented physical space is also a vehicle for the narration, which is centred around memories of personal trauma of the in-game characters. While using the concepts of hauntology, postmemory, and folk horror, we try to understand the process of creating stories that appeal to an international audience but is heavily rooted in very specific local folklore (Someday You’ll Return) or painful national history (The Medium). This phenomenon can lead to both popularisation of new aesthetics in global market, as well as to perpetuating stereotypical narratives about national cultures and histories.