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Posted by Gina Freitag
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Player 4, Profile: Gabby DaRienzo

We’re gearing up for our next event on April 13th! Co-hosts Evan Millar (Rue Morgue games editor) and Kaitlin Tremblay (Dames Making Games) will be discussing the dark side of the games industry with a look at its horror history to present in “Pixels ‘n Peril” (tickets available now!).

In the meantime, meet some of the local players in the games industry here in Toronto, and find out what game scares they’re haunted by.

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Meet: Gabby DaRienzo (@gabdar), art director and co-founder of Laundry Bear Games

What is your preferred system/platform?
Nintendo Switch / PC

What first drew you to horror videos games?
When I was a kid I was too scared to watch horror movies, but was always very drawn to the women protagonists/villains in them… Eventually, I watched The Ring, which I loved and it allowed me to be a bit braver about watching other horror movies (favourites included Ginger Snaps, Scream, Jennifer’s Body, and The Craft among many others) as well as playing horror video games. I think Alice was my first horror game — I remember being obsessed with her character design, and would side-eye the box art in the store until I finally bought it.

Tell us a bit about a game/project you recently worked on.
Our most recent game is A Mortician’s Tale, which is a narrative-driven game for PC/Mac/iOS where you play as a mortician running a funeral home. It sounds like a spooky horror game but it’s actually quite the opposite, haha. It’s a very honest but very gentle and friendly introduction to the real life work morticians do. Kaitlin Tremblay was actually the lead writer of the game!

What is your favourite horror video game, and why?
Both Left 4 Dead games hold a special place in my heart — I’ve played hundreds and hundreds of hours of both with my friends. They’re simultaneously super stressful while also being a lot of fun, and again I’m in love with the woman villains so much (The Witch, ahhhh!). It also handles narrative in a super interesting way — nothing is mandatory and players can choose to engage with it or ignore it completely if they’re just there for the shooting and zombies.

Who is your favourite horror video game character, and why?
Monika from Doki Doki Literature Club… The game does a lot of interesting meta stuff that really surprised and freaked me out, haha. The best is if you choose to give Monika a false name, Monika will read your username on your PC and then call you out on giving her a fake name: “Hmm, that’s not your real name, is it Gabby” ??!!?! DDLC — specifically Monika — sat with me for such a long time and scared me in a way that no game ever has before. I uninstalled it immediately and had to double/triple check that I actually did it, haha.

What horror video game(s) has/have the most effective scares?
I recently watched Subnautica’s post-mortem at GDC, where the lead designer mentioned that while they didn’t intend for the game to be horrific, once they received feedback from their players stating how horrified they felt exploring an open ocean, the developers leaned into it super hard to up the scare factors. There is a lot of great design with using “fog” to mask what might be in the distance, and masking sounds so the player has no idea how near/far giant, aggressive sea monsters might be. Playing Subnautica made me realize I have a deep-seated fear of the open ocean and I find it scarier than most intentionally horrific games.

What horror video game are you currently playing?
I’ve been playing a lot of Dead by Daylight with a few friends on PC. It’s been out for a while now, but they always find ways to add new monsters and maps and make the game scary in whole new ways.

Where can people follow you/your work online?



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