This is the second instalment in a series of blogs discussing popular CreepyPasta stories.
For those of you that missed the first instalment, Creepy Pasta is the modern equivalent of urban legends, spread through the internet and springing from the phrase copypasta. It’s a mixed bag and can incorporate many ways of storytelling, from found footage to urban legends from ghost stories and scientific journals. Effectively they are modern-day campfire stories, only instead of hearing them by firelight you read or listen to them via the light of your screen.
Today’s Creepy Pasta is perhaps one of the most well-known stories, Ben Drowned.
Also known as Majora’s Mask, this story revolves around a haunted video game, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask to be specific.
The story starts with the narrator receiving an odd-looking game carriage from a suspicious old man. This carriage already had a save file on it, called BEN. The narrator ignored the save and started a new game, however, characters in the game would often refer to the narrator as BEN. To stop this the narrator deleted the save file. This did not help, he wasn’t called BEN anymore but now characters stopped using any name.
The narrator attempted to hack the game, this did not work and instead sent him porting around the game, with a distorted soundtrack and incorrect dialogue. The narrator decided to share his experiences and posted videos of his game footage to YouTube. The fourth video, however, comes from the narrator’s roommate who claims the narrator moved out but left instructions for him to post this final video. There was also a text file that contained the narrator’s thoughts and notes on what was happening. The narrator claimed that BEN had started haunting his computer and would communicate with him. He warned that no one should believe anything coming from his YouTube account after September 12th, 2010. Shortly after, the narrator’s YouTube channel began to change with his profile image turned into an Elegy of Emptiness Statue painting, and his location became “Now I am everywhere.”
So, what do you think, a computer virus or a ghost?
Why was this story so popular?
The most obvious reason for the story’s popularity, other than the innate creep factor displays, is that it was attached to an extremely popular game.
The game itself is damn creepy, it’s visuals are chilling, and the dialogue is disturbing in places, check out a number of YouTube videos on this game if you haven’t played it and you’ll see what I mean. In a nutshell, the game story is one of the ends of the world crossed with Groundhog Day, the main character, Link, has three days to prevent the moon crashing into the planet and he must relive those three days repeatedly until he manages to save the world.
The second factor was the medium, the text and video combination really helped lift this story to new heights and immerse the reader/viewer. Taking full advantage of the versatility of the internet this story spoke to people in a way that hadn’t really been done before. Or done well anyway.
The third reason is not a unique point, but a good one none the less. The story was portrayed as being real. You weren’t reading a story, you were reading an account of something that was happening to this person, you were watching the videos made by this person in a desperate attempt to share the strange events happening to them.
Effectively it was found footage. Found footage, in my opinion, works well on the internet. I find it less impressive in movies, usually because it feels fake, the dialogue is to script, timing is to perfect, people behave in ways that don’t feel natural etc. Even though the camera might be handheld or deliberately positioned to film the location (usually in ghost hunter type stories, think paranormal activity) it still feels way too scripted and unnatural. But found footage online has no real production value, these videos and stories are being told in a way that feels a lot more real, to the point where it really could be found footage.
Keep in mind that my little summary of the story and thoughts on why it was popular is much less creepy than the original story, which you should read.
The BEN Drowned Creepy Pasta is a great story when read and watched the first time, particularly alone and with the lights out.