General Gaming

That Sinking Feeling

I thought I would share a video gaming confession today as I’ve brought this up in a previous post briefly and thought it would be potentially interesting to expand on it: My fear of underwater levels in video games.
I know it’s weird, I have no reason for it. I love swimming IRL and if I could be a fictional being mermaid would be my first choice.
When I was younger this would stop me from actually finishing some games but I can get through it now just on sheer determination.
My earliest memory of getting scared of this is waaaaay back in the 90s when Tomb Raider 1 was still a thing, I was 3 when that came out and my dad had it so I must have been playing it a few years afterwards, I was an early gamer but 3 is pushing it a bit. In the mansion Lara had a swimming pool where I would get her to spend hours diving in and swimming around but I had a little nagging thought which was something like “if they are getting you to swim now then you’ll have to swim later in scarier, non-chlorine filled water” so I never left the mansion.
Lara pool.jpg
Skipping ahead to 2002 (when I was 9) my fear prevented me from finishing one of my favourite games ever: Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. I love this game so much it is adorable and beautiful and just nice to play but I couldn’t handle falling out of the boat and into the water so I would avoid octoroks and the boats with the cannons as much as possible, if I ever fell in the water I would panic paddle back to the boat and get out as quickly as possible. Eventually I would start longing for when times were simpler for Link, chasing pigs on the beach and learning how to sword fight and I would give up. I do intend to play this and finish it one day, especially now that it’s been remastered.
link drowning.jpg
The first time I managed to fight my fear was when I played Spyro: Enter The Dragonfly and I was swimming around Luau Island. I had to kill stuff underwater but it was just such a nice place. From then on I can remember other big moments, notably in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess which, to my memory, was my first underwater boss battle that I managed. You have to jump down a hole in the ground into some pitch black water and I can remember the horrifying feeling of realising that I had to equip the iron boots and let Link sink to the bottom of this black, watery hell. This was straight up nightmare fuel for me and were it not for my sister, who is a lot braver than I am, cheering me on and actually pushing the button to equip the boots for me, I probably would have given up right there and then. What then ensued was one of the most memorable boss battles of my life. There were tentacles, teeth and terror attached to a long eel thing. Eurgh.
Zelda swimming
Another part that unnerves me is in God of War 3 where Kratos goes through one of his many existential crises, and ends up in a black pool of blood (but it looks a bit like water so I’m counting it as the same thing) where he has to swim around reliving all the terrible things he’s done. You don’t get attacked in here, and you can’t fight underwater in God of War, but I felt very uneasy and kept expecting something to grab Kratos and pull him under water.
God of war swimming.png
Reading back over what I’ve written I’ve realised that the fear may actually stem from opaque water, so when I can’t see anything under my character. Having said that I do get nervous about water in general in games but not being able to see what may potentially be in the water with me is worse.
Do you have something a bit odd that freaks you out in video games? It would be nice to hear I’m not alone!
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9 thoughts on “That Sinking Feeling

  1. I always hated the water parts of Tomb Raider, because there could be crocodiles near them, and those things terrified me. Even in games as innocent as Mario 64 (I think), Mario could drown, and watching him gasp for air is extremely disturbing. I do like the water music in SMB3, and the levels there are usually pretty bright, but there’s a few levels with that big fish, and I hated that. I don’t like being chased in games, and that fish was always after you. It always made me panicky. I understand your feeling on manifold levels.

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      1. I wrote an underwater chase scene for my first novel, because fear can definitely fuel writing. The thought of something in deep dark water chasing you is just too terrifying. As creatures that need air to breath, you are completely out of your element, being hunted by something that was designed be evolution to hunt in such environs *shudders*

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  2. Man, water levels are just the worst! I think the water sections of “Inside” gave me some of the worst gaming anxiety I ever had last year XD For me, I hate dark rooms in video games. Put me in a room filled with enemies, that’s fine. Put me in a room with no one but keep the lights off and give me just a little flashlight and I’m paralyzed o.o

    Also, would you like to share your articles in our FB group? We’re a growing community of gaming bloggers and we’re always looking for more great writers to share their work and discuss all things gaming. Just search for “Game Bloggers United” on Facebook.

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    1. Glad to know I’m not alone in my fear! I didn’t play Inside myself but watched it as a Let’s Play because I knew it would be too scary for me and those things in the water were so creepy! I completely agree with you about the dark rooms as well, it’s way too scary!
      I actually did join your FB group, I just need to have a look at other people’s blogs on there and build up the nerve to post on it, there’s a lot of followers!

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