303: How Games Get Zombies Wrong

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I own around 80 Zombie films and have seen quite a few more... They can be about all kinds of things. A realistic Zombie game would probably not be that fun. You can compare it to Pinball all you want but really how profitable are those these days? I have a feeling with the way Video Game Designers write at best you would get a game at the level of Burial Ground or Hell of the Living Dead... Which while films I absolutely love probably aren't the kind of experiences you are shooting for.

And what about all the movies that treat the undead menace as something non-committal (Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue, Wild Zero, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, Night of the Creeps etc.). Its not like all Zombie Films involve the Death of Death. Or ones where the death doesn't effect a large stretch of the population like Stacy?

It really isn't that beneficial to use firearms in Dead Rising unless its a Real Mega Buster. Oh the more I read of your article the more I think you haven't played Dead Rising...

Nevermind.

Useless.

Halo Fanboy:
It's absurd to me that so many people are so self assured about what would really happen in such a fantastical scenario. I think tis article makes far too many assumptions on the nature of such an event to be so smug about what survival would really be like. How would an infection that is transmitted through blood, easily infect 99 percent of the population? And what about the commentary on the nature of zombies themselves. They are "unthinking?" That's ridiculous.

Just because he said it was an allegory for disease doesn't mean he was advocating it being a Disease. If anything he's thinking a Supernatural Story where death is subverted and unless your brain is destroyed you become a Zombie. Generally that line of Fiction doesn't bother with a Scientific explanation of the outbreak. The characters are more concerned (and make more progress with) with Containment and Survival.

As for using Zombies as a metaphor for Society its been done since the Original Night of the Living Dead and its Progenitor I Am Legend...

I think this artical would have been a lot better if you removed all the fluf.

Amarok:
Does Dead Rising count as a game that shows other humans as the real threat?

I agree, Dead Rising did a damn good job of showing how other people are the real threat. The psychopaths, the "stupid one" who lets the zombies in (see DR1), the terrorists who start it all (see DR1), the evil people who keep the outbreak going (see DR2).

Dead Rising did a great job of portraying the problem with Zombies. But with that said, it wasn't much of a zombie game since the Zombies were just kind of "there", you could actually ignore them if you wanted.

wow all those elements would make for an amazing RPG. Bioware, get to work!

Is it safe to regard the Dead Rising series and the Resident Evil series as a 'ZAT: PASS'?

Awesome, AWESOME article. Love it. Three thumbs up.

Urazel:
I still don't understand where the idea came from that zombie is like a spreading disease.

Zombies used to be a dead (or sometimes even living) creature (most often human) being controled by a bokor. (read vodun/voodoo priest(ess))
That is their mythological origin, but somewhere along the line, somebody took the trademark quality of the vampire or werewolf to transform it's victims into a creature like itself and applied it to the zombie, and now we have 8 gajillion games/movies/comics/manga/anime/novels/tvshows about this whole viral zombie thing, and I've gotten sick of it.

I am now inclined to automatically enjoy any media more if it presents zombies in a non-viral manner, no matter how bad it might be, it will compare favourable to ANOTHER BLOODY ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE SCENARIO!

I believe George Romero actually called his Night of the Living Dead(1968 one) creatures "ghouls"( In his own words movies never called them anything) which is a lot more accurate.

Urazel:
ANOTHER BLOODY ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE SCENARIO!

You just chose the name for another parody movie.

SAMAS:

'-_-:
Well at least there is one thing that call of duty zombies did get right: the game never ends, just like...the game.

Read World War Z by Max Brooks, it's definately the most complete and most "accurate" zombie story ever!

Of course, that's not saying much.

The Battle of Yonkers is one of the most blatant examples of Plot Induced Stupidity I have ever seen.

You are saying that like military brass haven't made INCREDIBLY stupid decisions before (See Hitler).

Has anyone tried 'Trapped Dead'? Looks like they might be giving it a good crack, although the professional reviewers rate it about mid-way on their scores...

I read the article and the problem with it:
The Head Shot Still Wins!

Ever watched those zombie shows and wonder: If that idiot just raised his gun 1 1/2 foot higher, he lives? Shooting a zombie just in the heart wont do it, it has to be the head.

Look, I know what I will do if this Zombie outbreak happens. I will stick to my plan, I will not only have a useful range weapon, but I also have a melee weapon of choice. Also, one thing you never see in Zombie movies: Armor. For the love of any thing holy, wear armor. Its not hard to cover yourself from neck to foot with armor or some sort. Even wearing multiple layers of clothing stops a person from biting you.

Zombies are not that scary, just annoying. They only propose a threat to the stupid and unorganized. People who can prepare for different forms of combat vs the undead will win every time.

So yeah, I choose to Shoot it with a Gun every time. You can say I'm wrong but I will tell you this: 6 billion of us exist, if I can keep 1% of us alive, I win because I will be the "Hero." Why doesn't the article discuss about the Hero? Zombies are easy to clean up after.

1. Kill Zombie via Head Shot
2. Clear out the area and stack the bodies.
3. Stuff enough zombies into a metal crate and send it to your closes Shuttle to outer-space.
4. Set the control panel of the Shuttle to head towards the sun and the zombies will be disintegrated at a molecule level at the suns location.
5. Rinse and repeat? Also you have to dig up the ground and send that with the shuttle also. Cant leave any bloody mess behind to some how start the infection all over again.

While that is crazy, the idea that a Zombie outbreak could even occur is just as crazy. One of the best ways to deal with a crazy idea is to come up with crazy ideas to counter it. In this case, fight fire with fire, not the logical way of suffocate/water vs fire.

I wanna see some crossovers...
Terrorists and counterterrorists left for dead in the apperture science labs...

Amarok:
Does Dead Rising count as a game that shows other humans as the real threat?

I'd say so, until you get the clown's chainsaw, and then nothing is a threat.

dsawyers9:
I read the article and the problem with it:
The Head Shot Still Wins!

Ever watched those zombie shows and wonder: If that idiot just raised his gun 1 1/2 foot higher, he lives? Shooting a zombie just in the heart wont do it, it has to be the head.

Look, I know what I will do if this Zombie outbreak happens. I will stick to my plan, I will not only have a useful range weapon, but I also have a melee weapon of choice. Also, one thing you never see in Zombie movies: Armor. For the love of any thing holy, wear armor. Its not hard to cover yourself from neck to foot with armor or some sort. Even wearing multiple layers of clothing stops a person from biting you.

Zombies are not that scary, just annoying. They only propose a threat to the stupid and unorganized. People who can prepare for different forms of combat vs the undead will win every time.

So yeah, I choose to Shoot it with a Gun every time. You can say I'm wrong but I will tell you this: 6 billion of us exist, if I can keep 1% of us alive, I win because I will be the "Hero." Why doesn't the article discuss about the Hero? Zombies are easy to clean up after.

1. Kill Zombie via Head Shot
2. Clear out the area and stack the bodies.
3. Stuff enough zombies into a metal crate and send it to your closes Shuttle to outer-space.
4. Set the control panel of the Shuttle to head towards the sun and the zombies will be disintegrated at a molecule level at the suns location.
5. Rinse and repeat? Also you have to dig up the ground and send that with the shuttle also. Cant leave any bloody mess behind to some how start the infection all over again.

While that is crazy, the idea that a Zombie outbreak could even occur is just as crazy. One of the best ways to deal with a crazy idea is to come up with crazy ideas to counter it. In this case, fight fire with fire, not the logical way of suffocate/water vs fire.

Okay, some good stuff, some not so good.

Ranged weapon - fair enough, but the problem is ammo and stopping the 99% of 6 billion who are now zombies from killing us.

Melee weapon - mace or sword. Something for smashing heads or cutting them off. Anything that requires fuel is a liability.

Armour - yes. I reckon a wet suit would be the easiest to acquire and would prevent bites and scratches, just get a mask to cover your face. However if overwhelmed by numbers you'd still be in serious trouble. Even if they just pin you down til you die of thirst or sufficate.

Shuttle to outer space - I will take it this is the comedy answer. How many space shuttles do we have and how long would it take to build more? Can one individual fuel, programme and launch one? I think not.

Survival may be a case of hanging on until the existing zombies starve/fall apart but you're still left in a world with a decimated population, no power and lack of skills for basic survival (food, medicine, shelter). Depending on the cause, you may still have to deal with the newly dead.

thaluikhain:

gring:

thaluikhain:
Ok, one or two decent points, but buried in far too much annoying filler to pad it out to 3 pages.

then dont read it?

How do I know if I want to read it or not until I've read it?

you couldn't see where it was going by the first page, you're saying? ahh, okay.

Thedek:

SAMAS:

'-_-:
Well at least there is one thing that call of duty zombies did get right: the game never ends, just like...the game.

Read World War Z by Max Brooks, it's definately the most complete and most "accurate" zombie story ever!

Of course, that's not saying much.

The Battle of Yonkers is one of the most blatant examples of Plot Induced Stupidity I have ever seen.

You are saying that like military brass haven't made INCREDIBLY stupid decisions before (See Hitler).

Actually, Hitler was part of the point. Letting politicians dictate strategy and/or tactics.

In fact, he US Military made a very similar mistake in Real Life during the Vietnam War. And they've made sure not to make that mistake again.

Not to mention the USAF letting itself get shut out of the operation until that last minute, the horrendous breaches of War Correspondent protocols, bad tactics, Logistics failure, failure to properly secure the area... In short, a perfect storm of stupidity, necessary (combined with a nonsensical combination of Zombie invulnerabilities and weaknesses (PROTIP: If you can survive pressures walking on the ocean floor, a baseball bat to the head isn't going to do jack) and the author's ignorance of the effects of modern weaponry on a human body) for the plot to proceed as it did.

In short: Plot-induced Stupidity.

SAMAS:

Thedek:

SAMAS:

Of course, that's not saying much.

The Battle of Yonkers is one of the most blatant examples of Plot Induced Stupidity I have ever seen.

You are saying that like military brass haven't made INCREDIBLY stupid decisions before (See Hitler).

Actually, Hitler was part of the point. Letting politicians dictate strategy and/or tactics.

In fact, he US Military made a very similar mistake in Real Life during the Vietnam War. And they've made sure not to make that mistake again.

Not to mention the USAF letting itself get shut out of the operation until that last minute, the horrendous breaches of War Correspondent protocols, bad tactics, Logistics failure, failure to properly secure the area... In short, a perfect storm of stupidity, necessary (combined with a nonsensical combination of Zombie invulnerabilities and weaknesses (PROTIP: If you can survive pressures walking on the ocean floor, a baseball bat to the head isn't going to do jack) and the author's ignorance of the effects of modern weaponry on a human body) for the plot to proceed as it did.

In short: Plot-induced Stupidity.

I still found it to be a largely well written story, using the trope as metaphor and developing the human side more. There will always be times that reality has to be suspended within fiction.

However you have some point. For example, the chance that tank shells, even those designed to destroy reactive armor would do "nothing- I think the character said ass-all or dick all effect" is fairly ludicrous. Oh it may not put them down fully and destroy them. But I daresay the force is going to shred their torsos forcing them to crawl, or at lest knock them on their ass.

I rather liked it(I got a free audio book so I got the abridged one with tons of prof actors reading each part, it was nifty) but you have a point that stupidity, like the "Great Panic" is quite believable. Yonkers had some massive logical errors. Like Army brass may be stupid but.... to THAT degree is HIGHLY unlikely unless all the proper competent leadership was rotting or shuffling. Besides would not some of the more grounded officers or Non coms just refuse to listen to stupid orders in such a dire crisis? I still think it might be somewhat possible for Murphy's law to take effect like that but it's a 1% chance or lower most likely.

So now a NEWS article simply links me to an existing article from a week ago? How is this news?

Anybody ever read "World War Z"? I strongly recommend it as a realistic (as far as one can be asked to go) take on the subject. They suggest that zombies eventually re-die as their bodies rot apart and that ONLY taking out the brain is effective.

I really like a custom map in Warcraft III about zombies: Night of the Dead: Aftermath. It is more survival and looking for supplies while doing story missions that just killing zombies (but you have to do that too). Oh, how I wish some-one made a full game of it. A mod for Left 4 Dead or Alien Swarm at least?

This is a very well-written article. I feel the need to point out one thing though. I realize this will probably come across as nitpicking, but it's something that people get wrong so often, it drives me nuts. The electric shocks from the car battery are not an example of negative reinforcement, they are an example of presentation punishment.

Negative reinforcement is when you remove something that is undesirable to elicit desired behaviour, such as saying, "If you clean your room, you don't have to go with us to visit Aunt Judy." (Just to be clear, this example is envisioned with a kid who really hates visiting Aunt Judy.) The other two possibilities are positive reinforcement and removal punishment.

An example of positive reinforcement (the most effective) is, "If you clean your room, you can go to your friend's house this evening." An example of removal punishment is, "If you don't clean your room, I will take away your 360 for a week."

The negative in negative reinforcement doesn't mean bad, it refers to a lack of something as opposed to the positive existence of something.

The mention of Pinball is actually a good idea. Make a Zombie Apocalypse pinball game. How long can you survive?

The comparison to pinball was clever, but people would just get depressed if everyone died at the end of every zombie game. At least when theres "hope" of some sort people have an objective. In pinball the objective is to get points but I don't really see how living the longest on a "hell on earth" scenario is a real objective because its not fun in a zombie apocalypse whereas in pinball you get points and it fun :)

Chuck Wendig:
How Games Get Zombies Wrong

Oh, dear, game industry ... you seem to have failed your Zombie Aptitude Test. Let's review where you went wrong.

Read Full Article

This was a great article. I love zombies. Games, TV, films, whatever. I love zombie stories. Maybe because they are so nihlistic as you pointed out. When done right, a good zombie story is rich with narrative and usually a good story can be told.

One point I have to say though, You can't call zombies cannibals. As you pointed out, they are no longer human. So eating humans does not make them cannibals. Eating other zombies would make them cannibals, and they don't do that. Surely you saw the original Dawn of the Dead... they covered this. But your article was good enough to forgive the faux pas. ;)

Great article - excellent points.

It certainly seems that zombies are just the current trendy totally-interchangeable monsters du jour, and the games as a rule never really move to what makes them interesting.

One mod which managed to stay true to the "try to survive but inevitably get eaten by zombies" concept was the nazi zombie survival mode in Call of Duty: World at War. It was horrible, and only playable as a brief extension to a core game, but it stayed true to the zombie concept pretty well.

I'm not convinced that it's possible to make a good game about zombies, but that's not a reason to make bad games about them - it's a reason to make good games about other things.

Chocolate Source:
THANK GOD someone wrote this. While shooting zombies with guns is fun - why else do we do it, I can't wait for the game that is based on surviving and staying away from the zombies and most importantly - other humans.

Good news dead rising! I have only played the second one but there are alive people who hunt you with snipers, a crazy mayor, a crazy guy who lives in a toilet, a crazy army guy, a crazy mail man, an insane chef and a guy with a pet tiger ... oh and two evil twins, as well as the 10,000 zombies per area.

On topic, Why did it take the article half a page to get to the point? I think a dead rising meets GTA4 would be a great idea and would sell billions but it would mean a PS3 doing the 360 trick of multiple multi layer BR disks to play on a console and I reckon it would take up a lot of PC space and power.

That's why it is the way it is, zombies are just a re-skinned enemy X. Just something to shoot at, they could be made to look like pirates (the ones with boats, not computers), ninja's or werewolves.

making a movie or a comic or even a show is more or less easier than a game, because someone else is doing everything someone else is fighting for their life without in inch of trust for the others. making a game like that would seem on paper that it would be a great mmorpg, you know if you can make it work but their would have to be a lot of tweaking and changing with the mmorpg mechanics to keep people playing. there was a game that came out that was top down and worked with other people on the forums.

This is why I was excited about Dead Island by the trailer, and supremely disappointed by the actual game.

I love left 4 dead, but being immune eliminates 99% of the fear.

When was the last time people who commented about the pinball analogy (about half a dozen) last played a pinball?

Score is certainly still a central tenet but since ~1989 many pinballs have progression, they're called "modes". You beat a pinball game by completing all the modes. Not so good analogy after all? :)

Of course playing for the wizard mode is pretty exclusive to people who own the game, as it'd cost way too much to try and get to a good level in an arcade.

Here's some homework: http://www.flippers.be/basics/101_deep_rules.html

czarevilsam:
I believe that the in-development game Project Zomboid (http://www.projectzomboid.com/) will be more to the author's tastes.

Very much so. Project Zomboid is essentially everything the author of this article is looking for. A "you can't win", "hold out as long as you can", "worry about the threat of the zombies and the other humans" style survival game.

In fact, anyone who's a fan of the zombie mythos, old-school isometric games, or survival-horror should check that game out. It's fantastic.

Humans aren't the real threat; I'd take the possible chance of fighting with another 'survivor' for food and/or water, etc., over the zombie horde that will eat me alive.

You are arguing that someone has done something wrong in fiction based on reasoning grounded in reality. Things just don't work that way.

The3rdEye:
Take any sci-fi or fantasy scenario and try to apply real world logic to it and you will always end up with a headache. Watch:

Zombies
If zombies are mindless, soul-less eating machines, why don't they attack each other?
If their goal is to spread the virus/entity that they are infected with, why do they so frequently end up mutilating a living victim beyond any hope of being a viable carrier?
...etc...

Suggesting or presenting ideas for future work and how you think they would appeal to an audience? Good.[1][2]

Appointing yourself the Grande Poo-Bah of zombie culture and slapping people's wrists for how they misrepresented "your" zombies in their portrayal? *zap*

[1] As a small aside, minus the gratuitous fan service Highschool of the Dead is my favorite depiction of the zombie apocalypse to date. Even with a vast majority of humans turned zombies, it's the living breathing that end up screwing everyone else over.
[2] "You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.

I agree with a lot of this. I like the points on how most zombie games don't take advantage of the other threats zombies pose as an enemy, but the whole article just seems kinda arrogant in the way it was written. I mean I get the idea that its that you think MOST people don't understand how zombies work but anyone that is really into the zombie genre knows all this already. If you're speaking to the gun crazy players that just love to slam that game into their xbox and shoot wildly for kills, then I think you're writing for the wrong site cause I don't think many of those people are here.

I saw someone posted something bout a cracked article, and yes I read that one too. The article suggests that really its more about surviving the zombies until nature/climate kills them off. Like in 28 days later (at least in the movie I didnt read the book) which you mentioned, they survive by moving to a remote area until the infected (not zombies) starve.

I had a few other points but just reading the first page of comments they have been said multiple times haha so I'll stop here. This article a few years ago would've been good and well timed. now, zombies are so exposed. people have laid out zombie plans and argued it tireless with other dorks that did the same. There are books and books on it. countless websites/blogs. You underestimate the dorks my friend

Right now here's a thought: take DayZ, and add this feature- when you get attacked, if you take a certain amount of damage but don't actually die, you should get infected.

Over the course of the next few in game minutes/hours, your control over your character gets progressively worse, and you start hallucinating, seeing zombies that aren't there and seeing other survivors as zombies. Eventually when you do succumb to the infection, your character becomes one of the NPC zombies, now a threat to anyone still living. Naturally, any armour you were wearing when you died is now being worn by the zombie, making it that much harder for a survivor to kill.

Maybe there should be a cure that can reverse the effect of the infection if you take it prior to falling, though it'd have to be rare.

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