What's It Like To Be Jason Voorhees In 'Friday The 13th: The Game'?

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Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th: The Game certainly looks like Jason. He lurches about like Jason, clutches machetes like Jason, kills like Jason. Behind the motion capture for the digital Jason is Kane Hodder, who played Jason in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Jason X and one very memorable episode of The Arsenio Hall Show. This Jason is even accompanied by an original Harry Manfredini score, complete with signature ki-ki-ki-ma-ma-ma. But there’s one big difference between the Jason of Friday the 13th: The Game and his celluloid peer: this time Jason’s brain will be yours.

So what’s it like to be Jason in Friday the 13th: The Game? To find out iDigitalTimes sat down with Executive Producer Randy Greenback. He has been with the project from its pre-licensed  beginnings as a kickstarter project called Slasher Vol. 1: Summer Camp.

“We were already dancing close to the flames,” Greenback said. They may not have had the license to Friday the 13th, but they had Kane Hodder, Harry Manfredini and gore master Tom Savini on board. “We were already the most legit Friday the 13th game there was without being Friday the 13th.”

When Sean S. Cunningham, director of the original Friday the 13th, offered Gun Media the rights the Slasher Vol. 1 team was taken aback. “This can't be real. Are they just setting us up to sue us? Are they just mining information?” Greenback remembers thinking. “We were literally in fear.”

Now they had Jason and a creepy question to answer: “What is it like to live in the mind of the murderer?”

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Jason as seen in 'Friday the 13th Part 2,' before the mask. Photo: Gun Media

Friday the 13th: The Game is an asymmetric multiplayer game, with counselors fighting to survive as Jason stalks them around Camp Crystal Lake. Greenback described the gameplay as “hide and seek meets murder.”

If all goes according to plan, every round of Friday the 13th: The Game should build like a great horror moment, ratcheting up fear, heightening emotion, tension thicker and thicker, until the crescendo, as a scare floods your brain with chemicals.

“We really want players to live out a horror movie in 20-minute sessions,” Greenback said.

This narrative arc is built into Jason’s mechanics. “Jason’s powers charge up as he kills people. Even if he doesn't kill people, he's getting more powerful as the game goes on,” Greenback said.

At first this seems at odds with Jason’s essential indomitably—his unchanging, unstoppable nature is what made Jason such a durable slasher—but the choice produced interesting and unexpected parallels to the Friday the 13th movies. Since fans most often dwell on kills, it’s easy to forget the lengthy set-up in many of the Friday the 13th movies, as teenagers check out their surroundings and Jason watches from the bushes. Think Friday the 13th Part III as Jason skulks around the lakefront, stealing clothes and watching the teens party at Higgins Haven.

“Since at the beginning of the game you’re not as powered up, it’s a little bit like you’re a stalker,” Greenback said, “so if you see a group of counselors you don’t want to kill one and have them spread to the winds.”

Should your victims scatter across the map, the Jason of Friday the 13th: The Game has a special jump scare ability, enabling him to pop up next to victims. “He can’t use it all day, it has a recharge / cooldown,” Greenback said, comparing the ability to Blink, the teleport power in Dishonored.

“We have a lot of ideas for what's going to be scary in the game,” Greenback said. “But really we want to give players toolsets or mechanics that they can use, especially Jason, to create those moments from the movies that are scariest.”

Here then is the other half of the equation. Not only does Jason need to be fun to play, but he also must empower the kind of horror moments players build for themselves. Matchmaking to the rescue.

“Every seven or eight games you get to be Jason,” Greenback said. “It’s randomized, but we do keep track of how often you’ve been Jason. And we also keep track of how you do as Jason. Are you a good Jason?”

That’s right, Friday the 13th: The Game rewards players who are more effectively terrifying while disassembling teen bodies. “A good Jason is a valuable thing to us,” Greenback said, “so we track who’s doing it better and prefer them more often.”

Of course, none of the best slashers are data wonks. Jason isn’t cataloging his kills in cute little infographics. Game mechanics are as alien to him as a hug. So ultimately Friday the 13th: The Game wants to put you in the raw headspace of that angry, humiliated little boy left to drown at the hands of irresponsible teenage counselors all those summers ago.

“It’s like a power fantasy come to life,” Greenback said, describing Jason as “the ultimate predator.”

Yet they had to dwell on that other half as well, the one defined by a murderous mother and the world’s neglect. “What the hell does Jason hear while he’s playing the game?” Greenback said, before answering his own question: “His Mom, talking to him.”

 

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