Is there a formula for the perfect scare?
This question has been (forgive the pun) haunting me as I tested out some of the newest AI platforms like ChatGPT, Bard, and Midjourney. These tools seemed to be able to deliver answers to complex questions, write stories, and build images as wild as my imagination.
But I wasn’t convinced that AI could match the sinister visions of a live human who builds haunted attractions professionally. So I put AI to the test to finally answer the question: Can a machine be as creative as a human haunter?
What is AI?
AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. Simply put, it’s a machine’s ability to perform a task that would previously have required human intelligence. If you’ve ever used a smart assistant, like Alexa and Siri, or used a website’s chatbot—you’ve used AI. They’re powered by computers but capable of learning like a human.
AI pops up in other places, too, from manufacturing robots to self-driving cars. It has the potential to revolutionize industries, automate repetitive tasks, enhance decision-making processes, and contribute to scientific advancements.
This technology has been in the news a lot lately, both in positive and negative stories. I won’t go into all the pros and cons here, but there’s no doubt that AI is part of our lives now. And when used properly, it can be a powerful tool.
How does HauntPay use AI?
We’ve been using AI for years to help keep your transactions safe and limit fraud. HauntPay uses a combination of AI and human intelligence to flag and review potentially fraudulent transactions before they have a chance to scam your haunt.
Recently, we introduced a new AI powered feature that gives you the power to optimize your haunt’s name and description to maximize ticket purchaser conversions, powered by OpenAI’s GPT AI (the same tech behind ChatGPT). You just enter a few basic details about your haunt, click “optimize” and our AI tool will turn out a fully-formatted, exciting sales pitch that will make customers want to buy tickets now. It’s great when you’re short on time or when you’re just not sure what to say.
I Asked AI to Design the Perfect Haunted Attraction
I wanted to put our benevolent robot overlords to the test. So I plugged a scenario into ChatGPT to see if AI could create something as dark and twisted as human haunters.
I gave the program a relatively simple prompt:
Describe the perfect scary haunted attraction in as much detail as possible. What is it called? What is the theme or storyline? What is the main character or monster? What kinds of props or actors would guests encounter as they make their way through the attraction. What are the rooms like?
Here’s what AI delivered…
Title: “Nightmare Manor: A Descent into Darkness”
“Nightmare Manor” is a highly immersive and terrifying haunted attraction that takes visitors on a harrowing journey through the crumbling estate of an infamous family with a dark history. The story revolves around the cursed bloodline of the manor’s owners, who were rumored to have dabbled in forbidden rituals and black magic. As guests enter the manor, they unwittingly become trapped in a realm where their worst nightmares come to life.
The main character of “Nightmare Manor” is a malevolent spirit known as “The Harbinger.” The Harbinger was once a member of the cursed family who perished under mysterious circumstances and now seeks to torment anyone who dares enter the manor. This ghostly figure possesses a terrifying presence, haunting visitors at every turn and becoming increasingly aggressive as the attraction progresses.
Throughout the haunted attraction, guests would encounter a variety of props and actors designed to create a truly immersive and terrifying experience. Some of these include:
Startle Props: Strategically placed animatronic figures, such as looming specters, crawling creatures, and skeletal remains, designed to surprise and startle visitors.
Atmospheric Effects: Special lighting, fog machines, and eerie soundscapes that envelop the environment, enhancing the sense of dread and suspense.
Actors/Actresses: Highly trained performers, dressed in elaborate costumes, portraying members of the cursed family, possessed spirits, and other terrifying entities. They would interact with guests, employing jump scares, unsettling dialogue, and unsettling behaviors to intensify the fear factor.
Hidden Passages: Secret doorways, concealed behind bookcases, portraits, or crumbling walls, leading guests into unexpected areas of the manor or serving as escape routes.
The haunted attraction would consist of various themed rooms, each with its own unique horrors:
Foyer of Shadows: A grand, decaying entrance hall, shrouded in darkness, where guests are introduced to the eerie atmosphere and first encounter manifestations of The Harbinger.
Hall of Mirrors: A disorienting maze of distorted reflections and illusionary corridors, heightening guests’ unease and making it difficult to discern what is real.
Torture Chamber: A gruesome chamber filled with authentic-looking torture devices, dimly lit, and filled with unsettling sound effects to evoke feelings of dread and discomfort.
Séance Room: A candlelit parlor where guests witness a chilling reenactment of the cursed family’s attempt to communicate with the spirit world, only to unleash malevolent forces.
Labyrinthine Corridors: Narrow, claustrophobic hallways filled with winding passages, hidden traps, and lurking horrors, leaving guests feeling trapped and hunted.
The Ritual Chamber: The climax of the experience, a chamber adorned with occult symbols and artifacts, where The Harbinger confronts guests, subjecting them to their worst fears in a final bid to claim their souls.
“Nightmare Manor” is designed to push the boundaries of fear, immersing guests in a chilling narrative filled with supernatural terrors, jump scares, and unsettling encounters. It aims to provide an unforgettable and pulse-pounding experience for thrill-seekers who dare to enter its haunted halls.
What do you think of the AI’s haunted attraction? Would you visit it?
What Did I Learn from this Experiment?
The Better the Prompt, the Better the Result
The more specific you can be, the better AI can deliver a response that meets your expectations. The first prompt I gave ChatGPT was a little too vague, and the program delivered a story about a real haunted house, one that people would live in rather than visit as an attraction.
If you want AI to deliver something scary or gory, use those words specifically in your prompt. Want a story about a man-eating vampire? Give the AI as many details as possible (is it a 500-year or 8,000-year old vampire? Where do they live? What do you think they look like?). Put everything that is in your head into the AI prompt, and you’ll get something closer to what you pictured in your imagination.
AI Can Help When You’re Not Sure Where to Start
ChatGPT did a pretty good job filling in the basic story and theme for this imaginary haunt, which gave me a starting point I could build on.
We’ve heard similar stories from haunters using our AI Optimization tool. Our program can fill in the details when you input a few facts about your haunt, which is great when you’re short on time or feeling creatively zapped. It can also help optimize your haunt description to drive ticket sales – something that can be difficult to come up with on your own.
But Nothing Compares to the Twisted Minds of Professional Haunters
While AI came up with a pretty cool story, it honestly felt a little generic to me. It’s definitely an attraction I would want to visit, but I wasn’t blown away by the concept. The dark, demented, and macabre visions I’ve seen real, human haunters create are much more unique and ingenious than what AI delivered.
And the real key to creating the perfect haunted attraction isn’t in the idea at all – it’s in the execution. How you bring that idea to life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about how this experiment went. How do you think AI will affect the haunted attractions industry in the future? Have you used AI in your haunts? Let me know in the comments!
Want to try out HauntPay’s new AI tool? Login to your account or create a free account to start using it now.