In my college days, I used to be super into watching shows about people hunting ghosts. Ghost Hunters and its various spinoffs, Ghost Adventures, Paranormal State… you name it, I probably watched it. I’m not really sure why I was so into them, honestly. Maybe I was intrigued by the thought of spirits lingering in places long after their physical form was gone or maybe it just had something to do with me leaning a little more witchy than some other folks.
You would think, then, given my fascination with ghost hunting programs that I would have been into Phasmophobia immediately when it was first released into early access on Steam in September of 2020. I mean, a game where you’re basically hunting ghosts absolutely sounded like my thing.
But the truth is that I was absolutely terrified of it.
It’s no secret that I’ve played horror games in the past. I’ve even streamed them. But, see, I’m easily spooked and I know this.
On the surface, Phasmophobia seemed innocent enough. You and a team of friends make up a team of ghost hunters, travel to various locations, figure out what room in that location the ghost is primarily haunting, and gather evidence to try to determine what kind of ghost is haunting that location. Different combinations of evidence indicate you’re dealing with different ghosts.
However, the game also has a sanity mechanic in place. The longer you spend in darkened areas, the more ghost events your character witnesses, your sanity decreases, and when the collective sanity level of your team is low enough, the ghost starts to hunt. If your character doesn’t outlast the hunt, the ghost murders you.
And that was the part that really freaked me out.
Despite that, though, part of me still very much wanted to play it. After all, getting to virtually experience the thing that I had been watching for years (minus the death, of course) seemed like a cool concept to me. But I definitely didn’t want to do it alone, either.
Fortunately for me, I was, ah, “forcibly encouraged” to give it a try after my stream viewers suggested making a Phasmophobia stream a community challenge. For anyone who has never watched my streams before, viewers earn virtual currency just for hanging out in the stream with me while I’m live, and they can spend that currency on an assortment of things. Community challenges allow viewers to work together in spending those points to try to encourage me to do something they request.
In this case, a Phasmophobia stream.
I had set the challenge to be open for my viewers to contribute points to over the course of an entire month. They were clearly excited about this one since they proceeded to raise the necessary points together in just ten days.
So, at last, members of my community and I formed a little ghost hunting team to explore a variety of homes to hunt ghosts and get hunted, ourselves. I didn’t die nearly as many times as I expected, although I did die a couple of times. And despite me earlier that day saying the spirit box freaked me out a little bit, I grabbed it more often than not.
Was I spooked? Absolutely yes, especially whenever hunts began. But ultimately, I found it to be a less terrifying experience than I thought it would be. In fact, I think I would go so far as to say that I ultimately enjoyed myself playing Phasmophobia with friends, so much so that I wound up joining my friend Miss Galey and their co-streamer, Lofdee, for their Phasmophobia night last week.
As Galey and Lofdee are significantly higher level than I, we had larger and more challenging maps and much more aggressive ghosts from time to time. I found the prison to be particularly terrifying, and I learned later that I had somehow managed to avoid being hunted to death by a ghost simply because it had been on a higher level of the map and it couldn’t get to me quickly enough.
And yet I still had a lot of fun with it and would absolutely play it again.
Just maybe not in a dark room. And definitely not alone.