Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Zombies In Video Brains...I Mean, Games.

I wrote this for Forces Of Geek, it went live on the site today and ordinarily, I wait a week or so to post my articles on my blog. However, because I love Halloween so much you lucky people can have it now!

It's Halloween so put down GTA V, cast aside Arkham Origins and put those Pokémon back in their Pokéballs! All Hallows' Eve is the time to play survival horror games and embrace all things gory! Vampires, witches, ghouls, ghosts, mutants and other monsters have long been a part of video games, each scary in their own way, inviting us to see our inner most faults reflected in their image. Zombies remind us how utterly devoid of humanity we are even though we're living.

When Z-day comes, I like to think that playing video games my whole life will have equipped me with all the necessary knowledge to survive as long as I can. So today, I have decided to share this knowledge with you and impart to you the advice given to me through zombie games.

The zombie apocalypse has been interpreted, re-imagined and parodied to oblivion, various incarnations having us believe that zombies are slow, in speed and in mind but many imaginings fail to explain how incredibly fatal zombies can be in high numbers. 



One such video game which captures this is Dead Rising and it's subsequent sequels, the zombies are mostly slow and easy to fight off (whether using an axe, guitar or two chainsaws attached to a paddle). However, get these zombies in a large group, even in a relatively large area like a shopping mall and you may find yourself overwhelmed and possibly eaten to death.

Dead Rising has taught me the importance of creativity, learning to think fast and utilise any item that happens to be in close proximity is essential. That and using your new found creativity to snap artsy photographs of everything. It might seem counter-intuitive to focus on taking photos, but documenting the zombie apocalypse could work out in your favour if a cure was ever discovered.

Think about it, you'd have news channels falling all over themselves trying to outbid each other for your pictures. You might even get a movie deal. You have to think of your future after all, if there is one...and if there isn't, well, think of the camera as barrier between you and the zombies and pretend you're in a horror movie. Granted, it's not a particularly healthy coping mechanism but anything that makes you feel safe is worth the permanent psychological scarring, right?

Oh, hello there big, unlimited pile of ammo!
Speaking of safe, be sure to check occasionally for places to hold up and reserve your energy. If these places also happen to have ammo, weapons and first aid kits then I'd like to know where you are so I can come and steal it all, though chances are you're in a Left 4 Dead game and I don't fancy going up against a Tank. Although they are never referred to directly as "zombies" in-game, the motivation of the infected is still to tear you apart and eat your brains. 

The Left 4 Dead games highlight the importance of teamwork. Though it might seem sensible to go it alone (and for the most part, I recommend you do), there will be times when you'll curse the fact that no-one has your back so joining forces with a small group can be beneficial. Plus, if your supplies get too low you can always "accidentally" shoot them in the back and take their stuff. They make for excellent human shields too.

The infected also have special mutations with different abilities, so Left 4 Dead keeps you alert and on your toes at all times, this is a trait you will need to survive. Like Dead Rising, the Left 4 Dead series also reminds us that everything is a potential weapon, even a frying pan.

Which is great if you don't own a gun. Or live outside the US, like me.

Guns are overrated in the zombie apocalypse anyway, they'll only alert a horde of undead to your position and I wouldn't recommend using one unless you have a suppressor or no choice. Conserving ammo is advised and will keep you alive for longer. This lesson is made evident in the Resident Evil games and will make you value every round you fire and force you to aim well (as long as the camera angle isn't in your way, of course!).

Jill Valentine, teaching us how to enter rooms correctly!
Resident Evil games require players to search endless rooms and investigate vast areas and they will certainly teach you about the best way to go about it. As soon as you deduce a room is clear, check behind you! In fact, check behind you...a lot and when you come across a corridor with huge smashable windows? Just run. Run for your life.

Running is all well and good but games like Dead Island and upcoming release Dying Light can serve to remind us that we can't run indefinitely, stamina is absolutely crucial. So start working out now, I know it might pain you to leave your house when there are so many games to play but you need to learn the limitations of your body, falling in a heap, holding your sides because you have a stitch is not acceptable come Z-Day.

Dead Island is a title which is focused on levelling up. This isn't something we can do with ease in the real world but it does show us that we should keep on training ourselves, even after Z-Day has begun. Learning new skills is important, especially if someone needs to be used as bait or sacrificed for the greater good. If you have skills that can be utilised, you're least likely to be considered as zombie fodder and can feel confident that no one will betray you because they need you!  


You might have skills but good luck finding a place safe enough to set up camp especially in Day Z, a zombie game focused on more than base-building and fortifying. It's easy to forget about living when you're fighting the undead and this game is a helpful reminder to look after yourself and keep resilient. This includes nutrition, learning to hunt and skin animals will prove invaluable. In the game you are amidst other real life players, this allows you to learn how you and others might react in a real life zombie apocalypse scenario. Many will try to form alliances while others will try to screw you over, so Day Z is a lesson in trust, much like Telltale's The Walking Dead.


Like the comic book and TV show, this game is all about interaction with other characters and if you scare easily or get nervous, play this in order to hone your reflexes and become mentally prepared for the suspense which might otherwise kill you. After all, dying of an anxiety attack during a zombie apocalypse is a particularly undignified way to go.

I hope my suggestions aid you in your survival. I also hope that my advice has sunk in, if it has, then don't go getting that brain eaten, you hear?! 

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