Well that's awkward
While the whole concept of a video game is to immerse you in the actions of the main character, whether that's saving the world or cooking an omelet, there's something about first-person games that magnifies the whole experience. Perhaps it's that the stars of many first-person games are designed as blank slates for you to project onto, or the fact that the perspective itself says this is you with a bullhorn. Either way, the first-person perspective makes things seem a whole lot realer. That's great most of the time, because it really lets you feel like you're part of the action and the world around you.
But what happens when things get weird? Sure, there are awkward situations in any game, as in life, but when that weirdness happens in first-person, right in front of your face? It still feels like you're part of the action and the world around you, but that now seems less great than it was a second ago. Case in point, the Top 7 most uncomfortable first-person moments in gaming. Get ready to squirm, in second-hand embarrassment... or is it first?
BEEP BEEP SPOILER WARNING FOR THE FOLLOWING GAMES:
Half-Life 2: Episode 2
Far Cry 3
BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea
7. Picking up a prostitute (GTA 5)
GTA 5's HD rerelease is kind of a big deal, because now in addition to stealing cars, killing civilians and causing wanton destruction, you can do it all in first-person. It makes it feel like you're personally ruining lives left and right. Woohoo! However, what caught the most attention about it is as uncomfortable as it is predictable: a scene where you pick up and have sex with a prostitute. Disregard the pearl-clutching of moral guardians for a moment though, and you realize this scene really is super awkward, especially when you're in the driver's seat.
The scene is exactly like it is in the original version of GTA 5, but you get to see it up close and personal. That means watching a lady of the night climb into your lap and staring at her very fashionable jacket while she compliments your sexual prowess in great detail. It isn't visually graphic because you literally can't see past her collarbone, but listening to her dirty talk to you-and-yet-not-you kind of makes your skin crawl.
6. Advisor probing imminent (Half-Life 2: Episode 2)
If you remember the Advisors from HL2, it's probably for the Very Bad Thing they do at the end of episode 2 that we don't talk about. If you don't, they're the big alien slugs with migraine-inducing powers that Gordon and Alyx encounter several times on their road trip to White Forest. The primary directive of these hyper-intelligent blobs seems to be putting you in peril on a regular basis, at least once by way of probing. Which you get to see happen in straight-on. Yaaaay.
See, Advisors each have a big, nasty tongue-probe that they use to perform impromptu acupuncture on their unfortunate victims. You're introduced to the concept when Gordon and Alyx stumble upon of the beasts, try to kill it, and only succeed in pissing it off. After you see it put its proboscis through an unsuspecting corpse, it grabs Gordon, and you get to witness it points its long, vein-y tongue (that, sorry, looks like something way different than a tongue) in your face. Gordon escapes being made into a human skewer, but you're still going to feel the need for a shower afterward.
5. Sleeping with Citra (Far Cry 3)
Far Cry 3 concludes with one of the most ham-fisted moral choices in recent memory: you can either brutally murder your friends and stay on the island, or not do that and leave with them. If you pick the second choice, your reward is finishing the adventure with a shred of your humanity left. If you go with the kill-'em-all option, you're 'treated' to a surprise first-person sex scene between Jason and Citra. If I could scare-quote any harder, I would.
This scene is uncomfortable on a variety of levels. First, it cuts straight from the violent throat-slitting of Jason's fianc to Citra's attributes with no warning, so at the very least we have narrative whiplash. Then you listen to Citra ramble on about the 'ultimate warrior', which isn't nearly as bad as the background chorus of Jason moaning as he goes to town. It's like hearing your roommate banging his girlfriend, except you're stuck in his head and can't look away. Her stabbing you in the chest is probably the least awkward part of the whole thing, and a welcome release from the pain.
4. No Russian (Modern Warfare 2)
Unlike the previous examples on this list, which are uncomfortable because they're awkward as hell, this one's bad because you do something unbelievably terrible. Here a group of terrorists attempt to start WW3 by walking into a Russian airport with automatic weapons and unloading on civilians. And by 'terrorists' I mean you, because this doesn't happen in a cutscene, or during a fade-to-black. You walk into an airport and you unload on a group of civilians, you monster.
Granted, you can technically abstain from any killing, since you're allowed to skip the scene if you want. Alternatively, you can play through the scene but not partake in the violence, because it's not like anyone's hold to a gun to your ahem. But even if you play pacifist, the event still takes place, and 'you' are still a participant. Even if you refuse to see it, there will still be a moment when the whole crowd turns and stares directly at you before the shooting starts. Reminding you what you're about to do.
3. Getting attacked by Lisa (PT)
Most of PT's scares come from little environmental things: a door slamming when it shouldn't, a window breaking, weird noises coming out of the radio that tell you to look out behind you when there isn't anything there, stupid machine. This basically makes the entire demo an uncomfortable first-person moment, but the pinnacle is when the horribly mutated ghost Lisa brutally attacks you.
As you move through the house, it's beset by all kinds of weird moaning sounds and hands that shut the bathroom door when you try to peer in (admittedly a weird thing to do), so it's obvious there's something there with you. Lisa kindly confirms that, giving you a split second to hear the room's ambient noise disappear before she's RIGHT ON TOP OF YOU HOLY SHIT. You're then forced to stare at her deformed face as she snaps your spine - which you can totally hear - throws you to the ground, and makes horrible noises while she presumably cannibalizes your helpless body. Ewww.
2. Being assaulted by Alma (F.E.A.R. 2)
Throughout the vast majority of F.E.A.R., poltergeist Alma Wade appears in the form of a little girl, which makes her extra levels of terrifying. However, she eventually drops the act to be more appealing to a certain protagonist, and when that doesn't work as she planned? Things get messed up very fast, and you get to see it first-hand.
Over the course of F.E.A.R. 2, Alma becomes obsessed with main character Michael Beckett, and eventually starts appearing in a much older body to try to seduce him. This comes off as insanely creepy, and he's having none of it. Sadly, that doesn't save him from the final confrontation with her, where he's confined to a chair and you have to watch as Alma sidles waaaay too close to the camera. She then brainwashes Beckett and you see him fighting a battle to destroy her, but as he flashes in and out of reality, you witness brief glimpses of what's really going on outside. And just to make sure you got it? When the hallucination ends, Alma takes his/your hand and puts it on her now very pregnant belly. Yeah. Yeah.
1. First-person lobotomy (BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea)
We have awkward sex scenes and horrible terrorist acts, but few first-person moments get your heart racing like this one in BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Part 2. In the midst of her journey through Rapture, Elizabeth gets caught up with a bad crowd, which results in an unpleasant, impromptu lobotomy. Because of course it does.
While trying to torture information out of Elizabeth, Badguy McSpoilerface decides that the best way to get her to talk is to stick a thin rod in her eye and literally pick her brain. While you may not personally have a bit of metal stabbing into the space above your tear duct (at least I hope to God), the graphic detail with which he explains exactly what he's doing makes it feel extremely real. Plus, there's physical cues to set the horrifying mood: the controller shakes, lights flash across the screen when he taps the rod with a hammer, Elizabeth's breathing gets more and more erratic and oh God get it out get it out right now! It's basically the worst thing ever, and if you're not shaking in real life when it's happening, you're made of stronger stuff than me.
Well that was weird
If you're not uncomfortable yet, you're either not paying attention, or are a bit weird yourself. Which of these made you the most uncomfortable? Did they not bother you at all, with your iron constitution, or did we miss something even more egregious? Tell us in the comments below, but please, don't make it awkward.
Looking to feel even more uncomfortable, for some reason? Try the Top 7... Scariest moments in otherwise unfrightening games, or maybe 10 unintentionally creepy characters in perfectly normal games. Or read about how GTA 5 gives you a first-person glimpse at what it's like to be a seagull.