At least the online world is prejudice-free, which is why I love bouncing around between MMOs looking for a little haunted mansion action. Let's take a quick tour through 10 virtual haunted houses that go from zany to freaky, although not necessarily in that order.
In a game that's full of haunted everythings -- castles, laboratories, archaeological digs, bridges, amusement parks -- it's the Franklin Mansion that stands out as the "classic" haunted house... with a twist. It looks the part, from its foreboding presence looming right off the road to the actual ghosts that roam its interior. Yet it's the cats that are actually scarier (especially around Halloween), and one must ask some hard questions about why Eleanor sticks around as she does. This house is also notable for the fact that you get to travel back in time to see how it became haunted, which is a first at least for me.
2. EverQuest II: Haunted Mansion
Until Disney gets a whiff of this trademark copyright and sends an army of lawyers to shut it down, this Haunted Mansion is open for the enjoyment of all. Visitors to the Loping Plains might stumble upon a graveyard, black out, and awaken in this house, where several clues and puzzles must be unraveled before the abode can be cleansed of an evil presence. Note: There are no grim grinning ghosts, so let's maintain plausible deniability when Mickey shows up.
3. World of Warcraft: Karazhan
If I could make a game location a real place for the purpose of throwing a Halloween party, Karazhan would be it. It takes the haunted castle motif and does its utmost with it, ranging from a spectral banquet to an antagonistic opera hall. Plus, its music is just creeptacular!
The tenor and emotional delivery of Japanese words typically escapes me, so I don't see the word "Haukke" (is it a name? A type of cheese? A chocobo reality show?) as being inherently sinister. But from the looks of it, this manor is a full-on haunted dungeon featuring three levels of heart-stopping action. Apparently there was some crazy lady who lived there and liked to bathe in the blood of innocence as a beauty regimen, which sounds a little familiar to me. Oh, I'm not saying Bree does that! Not at all! Why would you ask?
5. RIFT: Deepwood Cottage
Deep in the rustling woods there is a cottage. It's not on the main path but looms ominously over nearby travelers. Inside the cottage is a hag. She's not the good kind of hag, the type who tells you delightful stories and knits you warm socks for the winter. No, she's the curse-throwing kind of hag who makes socks out of your skin, and you best stay far, far away from her and her unsettling abode.
6. City of Heroes: Dr. Kane's House of Horror
Mad scientists always seem to live in giant houses all by their lonesome. You just don't get a lot of doomsday madmen sharing a loft in Soho with three college bachelors, is all I'm saying. So it's a shame that we won't be able to visit Dr. Kane any longer, but at least NCsoft found a permanent solution to stop him from attempting to unleash the undead upon the world. In a way, that publisher is the real hero, am I right?
Of all of the haunted houses I've seen in MMOs, this is by far my favorite. Why? For starters, this is Bilbo's gift to the hobbit community in which he left a functional haunted house to freak out the locals. Plus it's got hobbit ghosts, things that pop out at you, secret passages, and a goofy spirit that makes me think of the best funhouses of my childhood.
8. DC Universe Online: Haunted House
I do regret never getting into this MMO, if only for the fact that I'm missing out on an in-game homage to Disney World's Haunted Mansion. It does make me wonder if having superheroes wander through haunted houses are a good idea because as a mundane Italian, I'm prone to having all sorts of strong reactions when I'm scared; they include punching, screaming, and forehead-slamming. What happens when you scare a superhero who can melt steel with his eyes or kick through time? No insurance company is going to cover that enterprise.
9. EverQuest: House of Thule
A good and proper haunted house has to look the part, and the House of Thule provides a perfect example of this. It's large, it's somewhat decrepit, and it has arched rooftops and crumbling stones. It's like prime real estate for the Ghostbusters' worst nightmares. I find comfort in this familiar look because it's almost way more scary to have a modern-looking facade be the portal to poltergeist city.
10. Star Trek Online: U.S.S. Warwick
I can attest that this game has several creepy missions, although the jaunt aboard the Warwick was the worst for me. You board this ship and find several dead bodies and mysterious logs, all while coming into contact with ghost-like creatures that change the room to an eerie blue. Turns out this has to do with technobabble phasing, but it's as close to a haunted ship in space that I've seen. Good thing space suits have bladder bags!
Justin "Syp" Olivetti enjoys counting up to ten, a feat that he considers the apex of his career. If you'd like to learn how to count as well, check out The Perfect Ten. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.