Integrative Complexity, Horror, and Gender

A Linguistic Case Study of Until Dawn

  • Hayley McCullough Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


The present study examines the relationship between integrative complexity and gender in the horror video game Until Dawn (Supermassive Games, 2015). By comparing a random sample of dialogue from the playable female and male characters, this study explores structural nuances and linguistic differences in how the characters are written, valued, and emphasized in the game’s narrative. The results show that the female characters consistently scored significantly lower than the male characters in terms of integrative complexity. These findings may be explained by the male characters being main sources of conflict within the game and having greater degrees of agency. They also provide further support to the idea that female characters are often devalued and deemphasized—made secondary to their male counterparts—in horror narratives.

June 2, 2021