STOP WITH THE ZOMBIES ALREADY!
I’m being pushed to my limit, everywhere I turn I see the undead, they’ve spread to every nook and cranny of the media. They’re infecting our games, they’re consuming our culture, they’re eating our brains.
It’s a good question really, what is it that makes zombies so popular? I mean, why is it that every other game I hear about has them in it? DayZ, Project Zomboid, Zombox… There is something instinctively appetizing about those rotting bags of flesh, so lets find out what.
We have all fantasized about the end of the world, it sounds odd when you put it that way, but it’s true, most of these imagined apocalypses are about zombies. The media attention that has been put on the half-alive has had an amplifying effect, making them the place to go to when looking to bring Armageddon. But it’s always Armageddon that comes first, the unnerving truth is that it is not zombies we fantasize about but the end of the world, the idea of starting again is one that many of us desire however openly we admit that. Because in our society today nobody gets to feel like a HERO any more, it’s hard to be important in a world of 7 billion people, but when you and 10 others are the only people left, then all of a sudden your life matters.
You may disagree with that, but you must agree that the undead apocalypse is often fantasized about. But why that apocalypse? Why not a nuclear fallout or a meteor? There are deeper things at play here.
To put it bluntly, zombies are FUN, everything else is boring. A meteor or nuclear fallout is a slow, painful one. Zombies are explosive, it’s that chance to restart we all wish for WITH the opportunity to blow stuff up. But I think there’s another thing which makes them important. Sometimes a game is made with the soul intention of killing lots of people, now that would usually be unethical, but make them zombies and all of a sudden you’re in the cool. Zombies are an excuse for violence, and lets face it, they are pretty damn fun to kill. But do what you do to zombies to hordes of people and you’re in for your game being banned by half the countries in the world.
The only things that both cause an apocalypse AND are shockingly fun are zombies, making them the option of choice.
But there’s another reason why so many zombie games are made, and the main reason we need to stop.
As a rule, you never make a game from a dream, it will almost always disappoint you. Dreams are a rush of out-of-place emotions that make no sense in reality. Zombies are a kind of collective dream, we all fantasise about the undead apocalypse but those fantasies are hard to equate into a game.
Let me put it to you this way, if you remember quite a while back I wrote about entropy, I pointed out that it is difficult to have a story in a high entropy environment (one with lots of freedom) because story’s often depend on a string of coincidences (think of all those times James Bond nearly died, or Harry Potter). The dreams are epic stories in a high entropy environment and that doesn’t happen, (or happens very rarely) and this means that any game made about zombies will never quite live up to books and the like. The solution may be to make a game about zombies with a structured storyline, but then that ruins the point, as the player loses the opportunity to rebuild mankind to their own desire.
However, this doesn’t stop people from trying to make zombie game. Meaning said games proliferate in the following manner:
There are 55 zombie games on the market.
“Hey, look at all those undead Armageddon games. But none of them truly reflect how a zombie apocalypse would really be like…”
There are 56 zombie games on the market.
I can already feel the wrath that is going to be shot at me for saying all this, but I am saying the truth, no zombie game will ever fit your fantasies, some hit close. But when you’re shooting at a target with no bullseye then close is all you’ll get. Zombies are still fun to kill, don’t get me wrong, and games about killing zombies are fine if a tad unoriginal. But no game is going to fulfill that little bit of anarchy that rests within us, or at least, not for a very, very long time.
So before you sacrifice your soul to the soulless, think “Is this really possible?” and “Has it been tried before?” in a world filling up with game designers ranging from awesome to awful, if you’re not being original, you’re not going to be seen… Unless you have a billion dollars behind your back.
There is still time to stop the apocalypse, hold onto your braaaaaaains and power on through. Zombies are already becoming clichéd. I give it a few more years.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph, or Lawsome, as the internet folk call him. He spends a lot of time making games, most of which fall apart or don’t work and are never published, but the few that survive can be found on his account at Yoyogames http://sandbox.yoyogames.com/users/Lawsome1997. He mainly enjoys writing about game theory but you’ll see him do a few reviews. He avoids games that look generic and would rather play something original than something fun. He has strong opinions on games and can hold his own in an argument, if you tell him that COD MW3 is the best game ever he may bite your head off.