Obsidian Gets It, Will Implement an Arachnophobia Mode for Grounded

Can more video games have this, please?

Obsidian Entertainment has announced that its upcoming game, Grounded, will get an arachnophobia mode to help those of us who rightfully detest spiders with every fiber of our beings.

The announcement was made on Obsidian’s main twitter. In response to someone expressing hesitation in playing Grounded because of the giant spiders in the latest trailer (which I’m linking to instead of putting directly in this article because there is a huge spider on the thumbnail, so, ahem, you’re welcome, fellow arachnophobes), Obsidian revealed the existence of the relatively unprecedented mode.

“The Grounded team is implementing an arachnophobia mode to help with those who aren’t fans of spiders and still want to enjoy the game,” tweeted the account.

This is great news for people like me who are fans of multiplayer survival games, and thus would’ve been happy to check out Grounded, but are deathly afraid of spiders. It’s worth noting the developers have no problem doing this despite the fact that Grounded is a survival game explicitly about bugs. In it, you play as a shrunken person facing off against the threats lurking in your backyard.

But, for me, it wouldn’t have been a matter of not wanting to play this game — I would’ve been legitimately unable to. When I got a copy of Dragon Age 2 — which is a Good Game — on PC, one of the first things I did was install a “no spiders” mod. While looking up information for fact-checking this article, I braced myself before loading every page and let out a sigh of relief every time I saw plastic toy spiders instead of real ones (even though I honestly hate those too). I hate spiders to the point that, in a cartoonish game like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I could barely look at my screen while farming tarantulas on tarantula island. It’s a legitimate phobia.

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I’m far from alone on this. While apparently only 12 out of 40,000 spider species can do serious harm to adult humans, arachnophobia — which is, as you might’ve long guessed by now, the phobic fear of spiders and other beings in the arachnid class of animals — is one of the most common phobias. Arachnophobia reportedly affects anywhere from 3.5 to 6.1 percent of the global population. In a 1991 study, Graham C.L. Davey interviewed 118 undergraduate students attending City, University London about their fear of spiders. He learned that approximately 75% of those he interviewed were either mildly or severely afraid of spiders, with the rate of fear being higher among women than men.

Giant spiders in video games, especially role-playing video games, have long been an issue modders have tried to work around. Bloodborne has more than one extremely big and gross spider (though all spiders are gross, to be fair). Search up a no spider mod for Skyrim on Nexus Mods and you’ll get multiple results. If you’re playing a fantasy game, chances are that you’ll face arachnids as regular enemies, or bosses who are modeled after them. You, dear reader, are likely playing the shiny remake of Final Fantasy VII. The very first boss of the iconic game is a scorpion-shaped machine, and fighting against an arachnid boss isn’t an uncommon event in the series in general.

The only other game I know of that has also extended this consideration to arachnophobes is Coffee Stain Studios’ Satisfactory. In Satisfactory, the Arachnophobe Mode turns spiders into huge cat faces. A developer on the team stated the feature only took a day to implement, and it was implemented in the first place because a member on the team is an arachnophobe. It became not only a fun gimmick, but also a way of protecting that developer and letting them work on the game.

Obsidian hasn’t elaborated on what spiders in Grounded will be replaced with. Maybe we’ll get big puppy faces for this one? Who knows. Whatever it is, I and many other arachnophobes are certainly grateful for it. While we deal with it, it can be exhausting to constantly see spiders in video games, especially when there isn’t a specific need for them. Games want to give you threatening and scary bosses. Spiders are threatening and scary to many — I get it. But still! Other video game development studios, please consider following in the footsteps of the developers of Satisfactory and Grounded.

Grounded will launch on July 28, 2020 for Xbox One digitally through Xbox Game Preview and with Xbox Game Pass, the Microsoft Store, and Steam.

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Natalie Flores

Natalie is Fanbyte's Featured Contributor, with bylines at places like VICE, Polygon, PC Gamer, Paste Magazine, and more.

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