I collected books as a kid, and my favorite genre was horror. If it had vampires, ghosts or other scary stuff, I was hooked. My aunt gave me a hardcover book for my eleventh birthday called Ghastly Ghost Stories. It’s a collected volume that encompasses two earlier books, Ghost Stories from the American Southwest and Ghost Stories from the American South. All of these stories are very short, barely even a page at most, but I remember one quite vividly. It was called “11:11” and it was about a haunted time of day. Two teenagers who were driving home from a party years ago died in a car crash at 11:11, so whenever you notice the time in your real life, you are actually supposed to be receiving a ghostly message from the two teenagers. Even 20 years later I still see this time and think of that story.
Realizing that time is stuck at 23:59 pm in P.T. is horrifying. In games we are often trying to beat the clock. Missions are timed and you fail them if you don’t come in under the limit. RPGs like Skyrim will make certain quests only available or completable at certain times of day, so the player is forced to make the clock jump forward, either by sleeping or waiting. In P.T. there is no time limit because time doesn’t progress as it logically should. The haunting is of the time of day as much as it is of the space of the house. The game plays with you, letting the clock go to 00:00 only to go back to 23:59 when you loop back through the hallway. Seeing the time 23:59 repeated is another way to let the player know that this isn’t over.