Is phasmophobia training our future ghost hunters?

7th February 2021. Reading Time: 16 minutes General. 362 page views. 0 comments.

Phasmophobia is a popular ghost hunting game that has just exploded in the last 12 months. For a bit of fun I thought I would take a look at some of the parts of the games because before we know it, our next generation of ghost hunters will be educated by 'Phas'.

One of the biggest talking points in the paranormal community is whether paranormal reality television is a help or hindrance to the paranormal field.  In all honestly, quite a lot of people would never have taken the step into their first paranormal investigation had it not been for these shows (myself included)  They are not marketed towards serious paranormal investigators.  They are aimed at those for entertainment value.  There are ethical problems and even fraud of course but it doesn't stop however the number of people that decide to step into the paranormal field because a show got them interested.  Usually, when a person starts out, they mimic what they see on TV or even attend a public investigation expecting it to be the same as it is on TV.  They very quickly learn that it is indeed quite different and so their path of research begins. 

With the new game Phasmophobia becoming extremely popular with both kids and adults, I have seen many posts in gaming forums where gamers have purchased K2 meters or spirit boxes in the hope to have a real-life phasmophobia experience.  I fully expect this year to have people attend public investigations purely because of the game.  While the current generation has been educated via reality television, does this mean our up and coming ghost hunters are going to be full of knowledge thanks to what they affectionately call 'Phas'?.   I am quite popular in my household now because of my extracurricular activities.  No longer am I weird, I am cool.  Just the other day I heard my 10 year old son having an argument with his friend over discord when he tried to tell him that I, his mum did this in real life.  I was 'cool mum'. 

So with terms like EMF 5 and running around with a sage stick to defeat a demon, I thought I better familiarise myself with the game and some of the things we can expect to hear or even see from our newest ghost hunters in the years to come.  I am also throwing in here some links to articles I have written that anyone who comes across this post who wants to learn about real-life paranormal investigating may find useful!

The EMF reader used in the game is essentially a K2 meter.  In the game, when it lights all the way up, it is called EMF 5 and this means a ghost is nearby and is what players get very excited about. 

EMF 1. Indicates the EMF Reader is primed. If the light is not on, it isn't on.
EMF 2. A paranormal event happened in the radius, generally meaning any interaction that isn't an item being thrown or an apparition. This satisfies the EMF Reader objective.
EMF 3. An item has been thrown by the ghost.
EMF 4. The ghost has physically appeared nearby, this also includes the Ghost slamming a door closed.
EMF 5. A paranormal event pulsed a specific energy. Counts as an investigation clue.

While ghost hunters do use K2 meters quite a lot in paranormal investigations, EMF is not necessarily a sign there is a ghost nearby.  In fact, EMF can cause a person to feel paranoid or even hallucinate their own paranormal experience.  High levels of EMF can make a person feel they are experiencing something paranormal.

One of the more popular items in the game is the spirit box.  Gamers will likely recognize this from reality television as well.  The sound of the radio sweeping through the stations has become quite distinictive.  

Spirit Box. The ghost can answer any questions broadcast through a Spirit Box as long as the lights in the room are turned off, the ghost is close enough, and you respect the alone/everyone rule. "Nothing Detected" means the game heard your question but the ghost didn't answer (for any reason), any male robotic voice answer means the ghost answered!
Seven ghost types are able to do this, making it frequent: Spirit, Wraith, Poltergeist, Jinn, Mare, Demon and Oni.

Spirit boxes are one of the most controversial items in the paranormal community.  Are they devices we can use to talk to the other side or are they just broken radios?  While used quite often on reality television, it is no surprise it is the featured equipment as part of the game.  

Evolution of a spirit box

Image Source:  https://squadstate.com/guide/how-to-spot-emf-level-5-in-phasmophobia

The aim of the game is to catch evidence of a haunting.  To do so, you use your equipment to identify the type of ghost you are dealing with.  The game guide lists the following ghost types:

Banshee

Unique Strengths: The Banshee will pick a target and stick to it until it leaves the house or dies. The Banshee can initiate a spontaneous hunt for its target if it teleports to it and the target is still available but out of sight after 20 seconds (hidden)
Weaknesses: The Banshee is more sensitive to the Crucifix. It is prevented from hunting from 5 meters away, instead of 3 meters.
Evidence: EMF Level 5, Fingerprints and Freezing Temperatures.

The Banshee is an absurdly dangerous ghost due to its unique and very intense ability to simply teleport to its target and start a hunt without any warning and often clear out of crucifix range (unless they were hanging out around one, notably in the Ghost Room). This is compounded that this hyperfocus on one target will likely not be noticed until it is far too late, making it the "true Demon" of the current ghost roster

If you witness a hunt that happens absurdly early (for example when the team is at 90 % average sanity), it is a nearly perfect tell of a Banshee that got a really -un-lucky roll on its special ability and managed to trigger a hunt with it. Assuming you could already get one or two clues, you may want to leave and slot it in.

Jinn

Unique Strengths: Jinns move extremely quickly when the breaker box is on and their target is 4 meters away or more ("two times Unity default movement speed"). They can randomly create a pulse that will raise the insanity of anyone within 3 meters by 25 % if the breaker box is on (hidden).
Weaknesses: No power, no ability, duh.
Evidence: Spirit Box, Ghost Orb and EMF Level 5.

A Jinn's ability set is rather clear. As long as the breaker box is on and the location is powered, it will be far more powerful. However, the part that's hidden and that can definitely catch people off guard is that the Jinn can randomly teleport to you and nuke your sanity. This is both a curse, and surprisingly a blessing

If you find that someone's sanity has been dumped by a crazy amount, and they have not been wandering off alone into the darkness, seen the ghost or messed with an Ouija Board, then you have a pretty strong hint that you might be dealing with the one of the sanity draining ghosts.

Of course, the Jinn's ability can be a Damocles sword. While he is impotent when the breaker is off, this also means you will be in permanent darkness, which will slowly drain your sanity, so be careful!

Mare

Unique Strengths: Sanity threshold for Hunts is 10 % higher if the Mare is in total darkness (60 % for minor, 35 % for major).
Weaknesses: Sanity threshold for Hunts is 10 % lower if the Mare is in a lit room (40 % for minor, 15 % for major).
Evidence: Spirit Box, Ghost Orb and Freezing Temperatures.

The Mare is a rather straightforwards ghost and functionally the opposite of the Jinn and a bit of a Demon-lite. When a Mare is in darkness, it will be likely to attack earlier and generally with more intensity, however if it is constantly wandering in lit areas, it will be neutered by a bit.

This is rather unreliable as the Mare can naturally wander into some dark side room, or it can simply slam the breaker and force darkness upon the location for a good minute or so, giving it a massive opening for an attack. Tread carefully!

Revenant

Unique Strengths: Moves twice as fast when chasing a player.
Weaknesses: Moves 1.5 times slower when not chasing a player.
Evidence: EMF Level 5, Fingerprints and Ghost Writing.

The Revenant is a nasty piece of work. While it is otherwise unremarkable, its true strength comes when the level drags on for enough (and all of its evidence require you to wait for it to give you clues).

Once it does, expect the Revenant to genuinely outrun you if you are being chased, leading to a quick death if you get trapped (though not as quick as a powered Jinn). Now of course, if you manage to hide, it will be a bit worse off and move rather slowly, meaning it tends to roam less.

Shade

Unique Strengths: The Shade is likely to be less active around groups (no code proof)
Weaknesses: If there is more than one player in the same room as the Shade when it decides to Hunt, the hunt will be cancelled immediately.
Evidence: EMF Level 5, Ghost Orb and Ghost Writing.

The Shade is one of the more peculiar ghosts, with a massive drop in activity when near groups, and even being unable to hunt if you manage to get into its room as a group. It is a blessing and a curse once again, being safe in groups will definitely do a lot to help with nerves, but it also means that the Shade will not give you many clues until you split up.

If you suspect a Shade, you will need to intentionally piss it off to generate clues, or if someone is courageous enough send them ahead to be bait (note that a Shade never answers the Spirit Box, so it doesn't matter if you get an alone/everyone clue). Be careful not to misidentify! Being cocky in a group can mean death with other ghost types.

Demon

Unique Strengths: Sanity threshold for Hunts is 15 % higher at all times (65 % for minor, 40 % for major).
Weaknesses: Using an Ouija Board succesfully will not drop sanity (minus 1/3 40 % sanity drop chance ?)
Evidence: Spirit Box, Ghost Writing and Freezing Temperatures.

The one and only, probably needing little introduction. The Demon is well known for its propensity to hunt early and often, making it well feared within the community as a harbringer of pain.

The sanity threshold it starts hunting at is quite high, allowing it to open on a team that is sweeping big, dark maps, making it pretty dangerous at all difficulties and an absolute nightmare at Intermediate+. If you see your breath freezing in the Ghost Room, it might be worth puckering up a bit, as it can mean Demon or Banshee, both of which can attack insanely early.

Generally speaking, you can test for a Demon with a Ouija Board, but it is unreliable and very risky due to the side effects of the board. Try it if you wish, but beware!

Yurei

Unique Strengths: Map-wide sanity drains are stronger (no code proof)
Weaknesses: Smuding a Yurei will totally paralyze it, locking it out of wander mode for 90 seconds along with disabling hunts.
Evidence: Ghost Orb, Ghost Writing and Freezing Temperatures.

The Yurei is another fairly infamous ghost due to its very simple but very effective effect of making your sanity drain far faster, leading to you meeting the sanity threshold for hunts way ahead of schedule and putting major pressure on your team.

Generally speaking, if your entire team's sanity has dropped dramatically, and especially if you didn't all stick together to witness events, you can take a pretty good guess at a Yurei! Remember to smudge a Yurei to disable it (or generally smudge for Freezing Temperatures, as they hide three extremely dangerous ghosts)

Oni

Unique Strengths: Being in the same room as an Oni will make it far more active.
Weaknesses: The activity spike when entering an Oni's room makes it very obvious, especially if smudged.
Evidence: EMF Level 5, Spirit Box and Ghost Writing.

The Oni is a bit of an oddball and the true "territorial" ghost of the game. When it gets near a player, it will flip out intensely and basically spam interactions and other activity clues, making it an interesting way to guess it out early if clues go the right way.

Onis are not too much more likely to attack per se but can definitely be distressing due to how hostile they get. Make sure to get a group on the game to not leave a player alone facing such a wild spirit... except if it need Alone Spirit Box questions.

Spirit

Unique Strengths: Nothing.
Weaknesses: Smudge Stick use will double the safety window before it can hunt again (180 seconds/3 minutes instead of 90 seconds/1 minute 30).
Evidence: Spirit Box, Fingerprints and Ghost Writing.

The Spirit is by far the most basic ghost you will encounter with no strength or special ability, and its weakness is genuinely extremely crippling and basically allows you to summon a partial safety clock at will if you have smudge sticks to spare.

There is not a ton to say about this one, though don't underestimate it. If you don't smudge it, it can vey much be active and even attack very quickly!

Wraith

Unique Strengths: Little to no footsteps visible on UV, no UV footsteps in salt. The Wraith can randomly teleport next to you (hidden, and yes it can happen in a Hunt apparently, which may explain its "wallhack kills". This causes an EMF Reader 2 event)
Weaknesses: If a Wraith steps in salt, it will have an effect equivalent to a Smudge Stick, making it very unlikely to start a Hunt for a bit.
Evidence: Fingerprints, Freezing Temperatures and Spirit Box.

The Wraith is a particularly dangerous ghost that can easily surprise a team and be especially deadly if pushed into a hunt. Not only can it seem to phase through furniture to catch players (though it is unknown how aggresively it can phase through walls), but it will happily teleport onto players to cause mayhem, causing it to send activity spiking around random parts of the location.

The inability to reliably track him is a more minor downside, though salt piles can be used to totally neuter him if you are lucky, leading to him being unable to hunt if it steps into salt at the wrong time.

Phantom

Unique Strengths: Looking at a Phantom (appeared or in hunt) drops your sanity twice as fast. Phantoms can choose to straight up navigate to your position as a forced ability (hidden, unknown if it can happen in a Hunt). Phantoms also flicker out of views during hunts more.
Weaknesses: Taking a photo of the Phantom will immediately make it vanish. However, this doesn't appear to stop hunts!
Evidence: EMF Level 5, Ghost Orb and Freezing Temperatures.

This ghost can have a set of moves somewhat in-between a Jinn and Yurei (in terms of sanity drops) and Wraith or Banshee for mobility, making it a bit confusing to track down. However, encountering an apparition or slammed door from this ghost will collapse the sanity of whoever witnessed it.

A hard tell for this ghost if you are foolhardy enough to get it is to take a picture of an apparition. It will vanish immediately if a Phantom, though make sure you did not take the picture too late and that it vanished naturally!

Poltergeist

Unique Strengths: The Poltergeist can throw every prop it has access to at once as an ability. Poltergeist will drop your sanity as it throws items in the location (hidden).
Weaknesses: If it doesn't have props to throw, it will idle more and generally be a basic ghost.
Evidence: Spirit Box, Fingerprints and Ghost Orb.

The Poltergeist is that ghost that everyone can probably tell from habit alone. While every ghost can throw items around and merely chucking a few items around won't certify it, a large amount of items being moved quickly (and especially instantly) will very rapidly betray the presence of a Poltergeist.

This ghost can be insidious however. If it decides to throw only single items, it can slowly but steadily sap the team's sanity, and if not identified properly a full poltergeist event can severely damage sanity. Make sure to get a good camera in the ghost room to watch for that rare mass throw!

One thing that is not explored in the above list is the theory that ghostly activity is unknowingly caused by us!

Tulpa, Poltergeists and Thoughtforms

Now obviously phasmophobia is all a bit of fun and just like reality shows 'for entertainment purposes only'.  Most people once they watch the shows realize when they attend an investigation that it is all a bit different and I see 'Phas' being no different.  What I do hope though is that it inspires people to actually start researching a bit more and maybe looking into the origins of things like the Djinn as quite obviously a lot of the above information (and even the spelling) is incorrect.  There is a lot of religious-based technique in the game such as using a crucifix as a form of protection with a section in the game guide dedicated to 'using the power of Christ'.  I have seen a few people getting angry about this but at the end of the day, it is a game.  It is for fun.  Most people understand the difference between real life and entertainment but this is where you as a paranormal investigator or researcher will need to step up and help people who do decide to transition into the field.  There are going to be a lot of new people deciding to investigate the paranormal because of this game.  Don't see it as a bad thing.  While the information they have may not be quite correct, this is an opportunity to set them on a path of research right from the beginning.  Teach them they don't need a K2 meter or spirit box to do an investigation.  There are actually some really good messages within the game from an investigation perspective.  They are given tasks and a purpose.  It teaches them to be a little more methodical and even take down notes, something that can be incorporated into future research.  While phasmophobia may be the way they get into the paranormal field, it doesn't have to be the way they investigate the paranormal.

How to investigate the paranormal with no electronic equipment

When all is said and done, it is a fun game, and many people who are paranormal investigators get a real kick out of the game and even find that it helps cull the paranormal FOMO many are feeling not being able to do investigations at the moment.  We don't have to be serious all the time.  Have a bit of fun!  Take it for what it is ..... a game and look at the possibilities for the future!  

It can be really daunting when you want to start researching the paranormal and you don't know where to start. Here are my tips to help you out!  Tips to help with your paranormal research

Game information from Steam: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2250658388

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