The first page of Alex Hall's economics textbook was scrawled at first glance: diagrams, notes, story paths. During the day, Alex was a student at St. Louis University, and at night he wrote the story that will become the most famous creepypasta on the Internet: "Ben Drowned" - a ghost story in The Legend of Zelda. Kotaku talks about one of the most famous creepypastas associated with games. The portal warns that there are things in the material that may seem unpleasant to many readers.
Ben Drowned in 2010 was part of the burgeoning creepypasta genre. It was a play on words that comes from the term "copy-paste", meaning copying and pasting text. Creepypasta are scary internet stories for those who like to tickle their nerves on the forums. Ben Drowned sits in the genre's pantheon alongside Slender Man and Zalgo. A five-post story with a video, best known for Link's insane image and phrase:
“You met with a deplorable fate, didn't you?”
The story of Ben Drowned itself [Ben Drowned can be translated literally as Ben the Drowned - WorldOfTopics] was posted on 4chan / s user under the nickname Jadusable, a combination of Jadus and Abel [Judas and Abel].
Legend has it that at a garage sale he found an old Nintendo 64 cartridge with the Legend of Zelda labeled "Majora" that still had the remains of its former owner Ben. When he launched the game, the whole gameplay was strange.
He finds himself in the middle of the Clock Tower, where all the inhabitants have disappeared. Jadusable cannot advance further in the story and use the Ocarina of Time to somehow influence what is happening in this version of the game. And wherever he goes, the laughter of the mask seller sounds throughout the city. Jadasable got the idea to drown Link in a pond. As he does this, Link screams, the screen blinks and the mask salesman appears on him, smiling and winking Jadusable.
After that, a strange and terrible statue of Link appeared with a crooked smile, which constantly followed the player wherever he went. He tried to run away from her, to kill her, but nothing helped. Failure to do anything will be a classic problem in this story.
At some point, he just started looking at the statue and after a while the screen started flashing again, a seller of masks appeared, and Link and the statue turned towards the player, stopped moving or responding to commands. All three of them started looking through the screen at the gamer.
When a Kotaku employee spoke to Hall on the phone, Hall said that he decided to write Ben Drowned in creepypasta format because it gave him new opportunities.
“When it comes to video games, the developers only have a limited number of features that they set out to create and experience in the game,” Hall says. “When something gets out of control in the game and nothing can be done about it, you feel vulnerable, because the rules of the game lose their meaning. And all attempts to fix the code look like some kind of surrealism. ”
As this post spread across the web, the story grew more terrifying. It practically became a new story with other details added. Ben's ghost, trapped in the cartridge, drove Jadusable deeper and deeper.
Eventually, he begins to come into contact with Jadusable, influence his life, for example, change the wallpaper on his desktop or contact him via AI Cleverbot chat.
Jadusable begins to see hallucinations about being held by the mask salesman, and he himself looks like a scarecrow that pursued his character. Here is an example of one of the conversations through the same chat where the user asked Ben what was the meaning of everything that was happening:
The idea of a ghost on your device was new to this genre. When classic stories focused on material horrors, creepypasta took a step towards the fears of the digital age. Have you ever seen how your mouse moves by itself? It may be an accident and a joke of your imagination, or it may not. A computer is a device to work, but creepypasta turns it into something else.
Creepypasta is just a new variation of the campfire story. As Hall said: “As a child, I was often at camp with all my friends from school, we sat by the fire and tried to scare each other with terrible stories. I feel like this was the next logical progress with the advent of the internet age. You can reach thousands, if not millions of people around the world and tell them something. ”
Hall says that he was inspired to work by the story of Killswitch [we talked about it in detail separately, we recommend that you read - WorldOfTopics] about workers from a Czech mine. The game allegedly had a limited edition, and it deleted itself after it was played. There we got out of the mine, playing as Porto's girl. The story ends with one guy buying the last copy of the game for 700 thousand dollars and promises to play it for the second character Gast. As a result, a video is left on YouTube where he sits and cries in front of the character selection screen. Some ideas from this story are reflected in Bene Drovned.
Alex used a mixture of text and video in his story, and also added hidden disturbing mechanics that make the world meaningless. This is how the Jadusable avatar drowned while wearing the Zora mask to prevent it from happening. He posted a video of Link walking with a broken back and meaningless text appearing on the screen.
Majora's Mask was perfect for Hall's story, as unlike other Link games, this part was about grief and death. The Elegy statue became the personification of Ben, who was chasing the player. A dead smile and a stony gaze have always followed you, and Hall did not have to tweak much to get the job done.
“You knew the world would end in three days. A great analysis of the symbolism and metaphors of the game was carried out. I love this eerie atmosphere, and I thought it would be perfect for my story, ”says the author.
For supernatural events in his videos, Hall used a Project 64 emulator and a ROM of the game. Looking at the backend forums for Zelda modders, he found triggers for every animation and image in the game. He learned how to set scenes in motion with simple button presses, setting Link on fire, killing him, or drowning him.
At this time, the thought emerged that Jadusable was not a reliable source of information. At one point, the blog, according to legend, was started by his flatmate, who says that Jadusable has disappeared. The final part of this story ends with such a manifesto TheTruth.rtf. A revelation claiming that Ben changed text and video entries, and even played the game himself. Jadusable and Hall also have hinted at this in past entries, for example using the word "believe" like beLive or BelievE, or always placing items like the Lens of Truth in his inventory. Hall wanted players to question the words Jadusable, to create a sense of fear and confusion about what to believe.
“Are you wondering how much truth is there? There are inconsistencies that get bigger and bigger as the story goes on. And then you finally read a text document called TheTruth.rtf. My goal was for you to have such a huge, overwhelming feeling that triggers the phrase: "God, none of this matches what was written before."
On the forum Hall was Jadusable - another user out of many, so many other people gave him advice. On / x / board and other forums, readers encouraged Jadusable to explore specific areas, interact with specific characters, or explore various elements of the game. Thus, the players offered him different ways to advance through the plot. But if they did not, Hall would have tried to direct the plot of his story along this path. But it all came out more naturally.
And now Jadusable got to the level with the tree. In fact, this is the end of the game, a text box appears on the Screen with the inscription "Ben is getting bored". The location was different in that it was more deserted. The player was examining the tree, when suddenly a statue of the Ellegacy of the Void appeared from behind. Jadusable turns to her and she starts to move abruptly. Pause. Then again movement. A seller of masks appears on the screen. He smiles, and then his face goes dark. Text appears:
As the story developed, its popularity grew. In 2010, many popular publications wrote about her, including Kotaku. Within the first few days, the story spread across the internet. And at the time of this writing, the BEN.wmv video on YouTube has 3.7 million views [at the time of this material translation, there are 4.1 million views - WorldOfTopics]. Alex Hall himself became obsessed with this idea, thinking over new plot moves.
TheTruth.rtf ended Ben Drowned's story, leaving Jadusable's whereabouts unknown after he escaped to get rid of the game for good. Hall soon developed a new story in the same universe called Moon Children. She talked about a fake cult site and was more ARG than creepypasta. But Ben is considered one of the best stories in this genre.
But the story did not end with the author putting an end to it.
In December 2016, Hall was in bed with his girlfriend. She read on the phone about a 12-year-old girl named Caitlin Davis. She broadcast her suicide on Live.me, and the video spread like wildfire on social media.
Hall recalls that he didn't get into it then. He thought it was awful and put his phone down as he went to bed.
A few days later, Hall saw Caitlin again on the news feed. Davis had a difficult family life. According to her blog, she accused the family of abuse, assault and attempted rape. She was also a fan of Ben Drowned. As it turns out, Davis was in love with someone claiming to be the real Ben. In that post, accompanied by fan art, Davis wrote:
“I need his love. I need his warmth. It has been several months since I last spoke to him. And in one of those months I even tried to commit suicide with an overdose of pills, because I could no longer bear the pain. I just needed love. ”
Hall's story, in his opinion, was just a tale of a ghost in a cartridge for the Nintendo 64 for those who like to tickle their nerves on the forums at night, and not something that could affect the real world. He even tried to avoid mentioning violence in it, limiting himself only to playing a ghost with a character in the story.
However, Alex Hall said that he does not feel responsible for what happened, because if it were not for his story, something else would have caused the suicide.
This was not the first time that creepypasta has sparked a national debate. So in 2014, two girls stabbed each other to death, inspired by the story of Slenderman. Up until Davis' suicide, Alex Hall mostly heard only positive reviews from fans: many told him that his work inspires them to create, write and create. Hall talks to journalist Kotaku about how artists and writers have created new art or fanfiction with his characters. Some made Ben a hero who never wanted that kind of fate for himself. Although he understood that a fandom with a darker side could not remain silent for long.
“I think this is a sad truth. At some point, when you post something of your own for a fairly wide audience on the Internet, eventually some negative situations will arise with your creation. People have told me how much "Ben" has changed their lives, or inspired them to write. Naturally, I suppose it is inevitable, when after reaching a large enough fan base, sooner or later a problem arises ... I think it is inevitable. It's just a kind of natural law, ”says Hall.
Today, Ben Drowned's future is in the hands of fans. Talking about the financial side of the issue, Hall says that he has thought about monetizing his story more than once, but always came to the conclusion that it should not be done. He has talked to film studios about adaptations, but from the point of view of the original story, he thinks it's nothing more than the property of one person, no better than any other campfire ghost story.
Hall is currently working on several new projects, including an independent film in a team of several people. This is not a horror, but a story about growing up and overcoming difficulties. He says that working in a team is something new for him, because when he created his creepypasta, he worked completely alone.
Despite the fact that Hall is busy with other projects, his story lives its own life: it moves from one forum to another and gives goosebumps down the spine of a new reader. Creepypastas are ghost stories of the digital age that change with each retelling and are reinterpreted by their fandom. While Ben Drowned owes his legacy to Hall, his future is in the hands of anyone who can grab a keyboard to add a new page or chapter.
The Topic of Article: Ben Drowned: A ghost story in The Legend of Zelda that defined the creepypasta genre. Part One [Cadelta Horror Month].