Why Do We Love Survival Games?

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Why Do We Love Survival Games?

At first glance, the survival game's popularity is difficult to understand, even for me, and I quite enjoy them. We play games for escapist fantasy, but having to eat and stay warm and have somewhere to sleep at night isn't exactly escapist.

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Really gotta get around to buying Jam, I liked Mogworld.

Now, "dear roofstone how would you survive the zombie apocalypse?" I hear yahtzee wondering. Easy, I would lock my doors and watch like, every season of House MD. I'd go out and find that all the corpses have rotten in the sun or collapsed because of the fact that I live in Norway and absolutely everything bloody freezes and shatters.

Zombie apocalypse is a concept with way too many holes, it would never happen, nor would it be a very efficient apocalypse.

Edit: Also, I'd like a more Robinson cru-something something survival game. I would certainly not mind the struggle of not only living, but also living comfortable on a deserted island.

I believe there was a sims game like that, great fun.

Well this article certainly took a right angle from its original premise.

As for the original question, I think people get a certain bizarre satisfaction from the rush of sheer terror and high stakes that (theoretically) pervades survival games, especially knowing that they can turn it off at any point. It allows a person to become immersed in a firsthand experience, but with a safety net. It's like a roller coaster: most people would hate to be on a minecart that unintentionally goes upside-down at 60mph (even with safeties to keep them inside), but while a roller coaster may certainly feel like that, there's that little voice in the back of your mind saying, "It's okay, this is an engineered experience. It's supposed to feel like this, and you'll be fine afterwards." Simply the fact that it's not real turns an undesirable experience into a fascinating and desirable one.

Personally, I really like games that can make me feel anything that I don't ordinarily feel. Portal makes me feel proud of myself and smart (even if the puzzles always seem really obvious in retrospect). Minecraft makes me feel productive, something an ordinary menial day job can't really do. The Walking Dead brings me a wide variety of emotions, and even sometimes makes me hate myself. inFamous makes me feel powerful.

I think there's a lot of truth to the bit about games being "escapist fantasy", but I don't think it's about escaping from the bad so much as escaping from the routine. And as long as you can get out whenever you want, nothing you escape to can truly be bad. At worst, it fails entirely to pull you in, and you can't escape to it at all.

P.S. Thanks

Seems a bit odd to include Terraria on a list of survival games. Most of those games require some degree of personal upkeep; in Terraria, you don't have to eat anything, ever, and even the copious healing potion intake of an average Terrarian is entirely optional. Terraria is about as much of a survival game as Call of Duty, GTA, or various Mario games.

And Mario eats more mushrooms than a Terrarian ever will.

The issue with Zombies is that, while they don't have the intelligence enough to know they can spread faster if they focus on just bites instead of consuming, they are also not conservative enough to consume absolutely everything in a person.

They don't do it to sustain themselves; they are not concerned with eating every last bit of flesh, and a zombie with half his thorax chewed off is as much of a zombie threat as one that only has a bite in it. As long as they don't destroy the brain of the victim, it will come back, even as a severed head. Also, Zombies tend to consume exclusively the living (which explains why Zombies don't try to eat each other), so a person that has his guts torn open has very little time in which the surrounding zombies will take a liking in him, after which he is just another half eaten walking corpse.

OT: I believe we are attracted to the survival games for the same reason we are attracted to horror and apocalypse movies. It is a fantasy (not necessarily a power fantasy), that the game allow us to explore in a controlled space.

Yeah having a plan for a zombie apocalypse is rather stupid, but having a plan for Ragnarök is a perfectly sensible idea.

when Ragnarök finally happens I'm going to laugh at the people who prepared for a zombie apocalypse.

Only one problem in your rabies comparison, Yahtzee. Rabies transmission from human to human is dismal in its efectiveness. For the virus, infecting a human most likely means a dead end, because even in the saliva glands the viral load is low. Most human to human transmission has happened from organ transplants.

I do agree with the scenario though, it seems very unlikely for a zombie apocalypse to proceed, unless it's like that 12 second (and no less) zombie conversion in World War Z. Any virus apocalypse is more likely to play out like the movie Contagion, which is chilling in its plausibility. That's more of a horror movie than any zombie flick. People don't need a virus to become lethal in their aggression. Desperation is enough.

EDIT: Quick look-up form WHO says human to human bite is theoretically possible but it has never been confirmed. So yeah, we are pretty good at avoiding rabid humans, and their symptoms severely disabilitate them.

Carnivorous jam actually sounds a hell of a lot more threatening than walking corpses, as I don't think zombies can ooze under a door to eat your feet, swiftly followed by the rest of you. Would this jam be able to, for lack of better words, blob up on itself to overcome heights? Like form a jam-snake-type-thing and make the exact opposite motion of a slinky to ascend to what you might have thought was safe ground? When/if you 'kill' it, is it edible? Do I have to worry about eating my squishy adversary on some toast only for it to return the favor from within my own stomach?

I know what boils down to 'blob monster' isn't overwhelmingly creative in terms of what we put in our fiction, but this sounds interesting. More interesting than zombies by now, at least.

I like The Walking Dead (comic and game, no idea how that godawful show works) approach to infection. Something that humans have picked up causes them to reanimate after they die, and being bitten or scratched only speeds up the dying process (and can be slowed or stopped entirely with a quick amputation).

It doesn't matter how this virus spread really, because for all the survivors know it's in the air they breathe and what little food they find to eat. All they know is to disable anyone that does die (through the standard brain methods), and the result is that zombies largely die out after a good while. There's still enough of them to be a bloody nuisance, but they've hardly overrun the planet. This approach works since the only way to stop it from spreading (short of finding a cure) would be to stop people from dying or to fuck their brains up after the fact, which I doubt many people would have known to do in the first few weeks of the infection, after which it was too late.

I always thought it'd be a North Korean apocalypse that would get us. I mean, has anyone even checked up on them lately? I'm almost certain there's a body-snatcher-esque alien virus breeding there, biding its time...

growing stronger...

waiting for the perfect time to unleash its consuming power.

Or i could be wrong and it could be the jam.

themilo504:
Yeah having a plan for a zombie apocalypse is rather stupid, but having a plan for Ragnarök is a perfectly sensible idea.

when Ragnarök finally happens I'm going to laugh at the people who prepared for a zombie apocalypse.

Well to be fair there will be zombies in Ragnarok. Namely all the unworthy dead that spill forth from the Naglfar, the ship made of dead men's fingernails. Of course we also have several flavours of giant, house-sized wolves, the World Serpent and mutherfukkin' dragons to worry about which I think constitute larger threats. Assuming we survive the nine years of winter...

Thank you for voicing one of my problems with all this zombie stuff - where the hell did they come from if zombies eat live people? How did the zombies ever reach critical mass, especially when guns exist? When your average survival horror dude is blasting zombies by the dozens with his shotgun or whatever, how did that not happen on a small scale to each zombie outbreak?

As far as survival games, I have to agree. For me most don't hold an lasting appeal, more of a "rainy day" type game you pick up and play to distract yourself for a couple of hours. Having recently played Don't Starve I think the issue may be that the main crux, die and do it all over again, reminds me of working. Do several repetitive menial tasks in order to gain resources only to have it all lost when I want to see what happens when I attack a flock of ominous penguins....... Ok, may really not like my profession at all, regardless this sub-genre doesn't hold my attention for long. Goddamn penguins!

This indeed took quite a right angle. Actually I was a little disappointed, because I believe that there can be wider speculation about what's up with us liking games, where life and morality (to some degree) as we know it is gone. My intuitive response for example is, that some perceive our reality as 'broken' in some ways and thus the fantasy of getting away in building something new 'untainted' (I'm exaggerating, I hope you get the point) is quite appealing.

To the point of zombie-bioweapon-theory:
I think Yahtzee's approach is a little specialised here. For one I think it is scientificly imaginable, to reasonably assume to have 98% of urban population getting infected (obviously this propagades not only by bite).
The point that weights even heavier against a zombie-apocalypse is, that such a weapon seems to me to be quite stupid. What kind of purpose would such a weapon have, that can not be fullfilled by other (ABC-)weapons? Why make a big effort to achieve zombie-state humans, if it's far easier to just weaken/kill them by simpler methods (assuming here, that both have similar dispersalmethods)?

I do have a Jam survival plan, thank you very much (Yes, I have the book). It involves no peanut butter, and two slices of bread. Possibly a spider too.

I think survival games' appeal has a lot to do with the inherent thrill of... well, of having to survive, but, as with any game, without the risks involved.

Being lost inside a cave system and nearing starvation in real life? Horrifying.
Being lost inside a cave system nearing starvation, while fiercely battling skeletons, spiders and zombies in a desperate attempt to bring back your hard earned diamonds? Even if you fail, EPIC!

Heck, I can rack up more exciting stories to pester my friends with in a single minecraft session than in an entire vacation trip.

As for zombies, there are two concepts that completely negate their threat: Choke Points and Supression Fire.
You can even test this in videogames: Find a neat doorway, or an alley, that forces zombies to push through, and plant yourself with a heavy automatic weapon and unlimited ammo on the other end. Instant win.

The unlimited ammo is meant to simulate the boxes of bullets a regular army unit would have for such a task, by the way. There are currently more bullets on the world than people, and high caliber bullets can incapacitate a human being easily.

And this technique works for similar threats (Like Aliens (There's a reason why a single automated turret held them back in Aliens) or every single ground force ever seen in an Star Trek product)

The zombie argument makes sense. It really would only work if the virus was airborne, since then people who had died from accidental causes or natural causes without anyone's notice would then reanimate, creating a lot of unknown zombies just waiting for surprise attacks, not to mention from that point onward it would only take a bit of negligence on the part of those around the recently deceased for a corpse to be allowed to reanimate and become a threat. I think the most likely scenario that would come, even from this, is that zombies would simply become a new hardship people would learn to live with. There would be accidents here and there, of course, but in general due to the proliferation of personal firearms (at least in North America) and the fact many people today have postulated about the possibility of this threat, I think humanity is fairly well prepared for it. I would foresee the recently departed receiving a discreet nail through their cranium after dying to ensure their brains are rendered unable to function and cremation would become the widely accepted method of disposing of earthly remains. While the threat of an outbreak -is- there from an airborne virus, it would also have to be fatal itself, not just reanimate the corpse after dying. Otherwise, if everyone on earth was guaranteed to become a zombie after death, humanity would simply know to take the necessary precaution every time. Hell, we'd probably do it even if it wasn't guaranteed, just to be sure.

Oh, and as far as the 3 ft of carnivorous jam thing goes, I have two words for you: hip waders.

MooseHowl:
Seems a bit odd to include Terraria on a list of survival games. Most of those games require some degree of personal upkeep; in Terraria, you don't have to eat anything, ever, and even the copious healing potion intake of an average Terrarian is entirely optional. Terraria is about as much of a survival game as Call of Duty, GTA, or various Mario games.

And Mario eats more mushrooms than a Terrarian ever will.

That was actually one of the (tiny) issues I had with Yahtzee's last ZP review; the talk of Starbound being a 'survival' game (and Terraria and Minecraft alongside it). I'd personally argue that all three games are more building/exploration than survival, with the monster element more to provide some necessary conflict. Any 'survival' (especially in Terraria's case, which is admittedly the only game of the three I've played... though I do own Starbound now) is more an incentive to create your first shelter, which takes all of about five minutes... and, in terms of Starbound, you're directed through it.

As I said, though, minor issue.

shiajun:
Only one problem in your rabies comparison, Yahtzee. Rabies transmission from human to human is dismal in its efectiveness. For the virus, infecting a human most likely means a dead end, because even in the saliva glands the viral load is low. Most human to human transmission has happened from organ transplants.

I do agree with the scenario though, it seems very unlikely for a zombie apocalypse to proceed, unless it's like that 12 second (and no less) zombie conversion in World War Z. Any virus apocalypse is more likely to play out like the movie Contagion, which is chilling in its plausibility. That's more of a horror movie than any zombie flick. People don't need a virus to become lethal in their aggression. Desperation is enough.

I do have to admit that it was somewhat interesting to see World War Z (kind of) try to take a more scientific approach to the concept, logical flaws aside (and the fact that, as I understand it, the most it had in common from the original novel was probably the name), but it did strike me as a 'poor man's Contagion', which, while rather dry a lot of the time, was rather interesting to see how it unfolded.

As for the rabies angle, that's indeed not a terrifically good example, especially with a very obvious example of The Last of Us' mutant Cordyceps fungus giving a much more plausible angle: some kind of parasite that modifies the infected host's actions to attempt to further reproduce and spread. In the real world, that's what the Cordyceps fungus does to ants, and there's also the Toxoplasma gondii parasite that alters infected rodents to be more prone to be caught by cats, which is where it primarily reproduces. And toxoplasma is also able to infect humans.

... Of course, there's lots of reasons why a zombie apocalypse would quickly fail (zombies may as well be wild-animal chow, for example, as well as extreme heat or cold), but there you go.

So Yahtzee, what are you trying to escape from by playing Silent Hill?

KDR_11k:
So Yahtzee, what are you trying to escape from by playing Silent Hill?

Agoraphobia seems likely, given its simply atrocious draw distance.

Sometimes I look at games of the past and shiver. Everyone was just...boxes...eeerugh....

So the Zombie apocalypse won't happen? Well ok then, in all honesty I thought this was pretty obvious.

I wish you'd stopped after no more than a paragraph about zombies and gone on with the original article. It was more interesting than yet another observation that zombies don't make much sense.

shiajun:
Only one problem in your rabies comparison, Yahtzee. Rabies transmission from human to human is dismal in its efectiveness. For the virus, infecting a human most likely means a dead end, because even in the saliva glands the viral load is low. Most human to human transmission has happened from organ transplants.

I do agree with the scenario though, it seems very unlikely for a zombie apocalypse to proceed, unless it's like that 12 second (and no less) zombie conversion in World War Z. Any virus apocalypse is more likely to play out like the movie Contagion, which is chilling in its plausibility. That's more of a horror movie than any zombie flick. People don't need a virus to become lethal in their aggression. Desperation is enough.

EDIT: Quick look-up form WHO says human to human bite is theoretically possible but it has never been confirmed. So yeah, we are pretty good at avoiding rabid humans, and their symptoms severely disabilitate them.

Which is why we go with the logical conclusion here. I'm surprised Yahtzee missed it honestly!

Rabies AIDS. You get all the biting, crazy scratching of Rabies, with the transferring capability of HIV/AIDS. Take that low viral load (thank you), plus it works double on those who are easily seduced by biting and nibbling! It is the perfect combination here, as it covers the others weakness.

It might make an interesting premise for a game that the reason you haven't been overcome by the zombie apocalypse is that, intoverted antisocial Internet indoorsy person that you are (try saying that five times fast) you're actually the person responsible for creating the zombie bug, and it's based on your DNA.

(Now, along with dealing with the zombies, you need to keep this little tidbit a secret from the struggling remnant of humanity...)

My understanding is that humans getting rabies from human bites is pretty damn rare. The symptoms that cause animals like dogs or rats to bite (anxiety, agitation, paranoia, delusions) just don't make humans bite because biting isn't the kind of defensive mechanism human beings rely on in response to such symptoms.

Also, I'm still not at all sure what to do in a jam apocalypse aside from stock up on plastic garbage bags. It seems you can be quite competent in a jam apocalypse and still die a horrible death, or you can be fairly stupid in a jam apocalypse and survive through a series of unlikely turns of fortune. Mostly I gathered that you should stay away from other people and hope somewhere up the chain there's someone who knows what they're doing in charge of bringing it under control.

Without trying to sound too pompous I really think the survival game popularity is sort of a counter-culture backlash to how easy a lot of other games, especially shooters, have become. Most of your big name games death is meaningless, your course and objectives are constantly highlighted. If you die you lose a few seconds perhaps waiting to reload. Survival games though, hell they're worse than old NES games. Most of those lasted what, a few hours? Even if you lost your last life on the last level all your progress was in a single sitting. These games go beyond that, you can lose days worth of work to one guy with a gun hiding behind some rubble in Rust or Nether. They really make you balance risk/rewards deciding what to take with you, how long to leave your base, all with no real guidance, and they give you the rush of knowing that when you kill someone it might actually matter. It's about as far as you can get from most modern-day shooters while still being in the same general genre.

Also robots are destined to be the apocalypse, and you are not taking down a warmech with a shotgun or outsmarting it by tossing a rock and running when it looks the other way.

You can't sell me your book Yahtzee.

Cause you already did. The audio book too as a matter of fact.
Which, incidentally, I just finished today.

Speaking of survival games though, zombies are boring, use dinosaurs instead.

From what I hear though, most of these (DayZ like) games are basically just comprised of people banding together to kill other people when it comes to the coop part. I'm not saying that's shouldn't be part of the experience, I'm saying it should be part of the experience.

Admittedly I haven't played these games.
I've just seen and read about them, and they are incomplete so take what I say with a mountain of salt.
Except for the switch to dinosaurs thing, because that's just simply true.

"Buy my book for this and more safety tips."
Nice one!

But, I already did long ago.
So, when's the next one coming out?

Captcha: Halcyon days, to warn us of an apocalypse of Halcyon (genus), a type of bird... they will eat all humans á la The Birds...

cursedseishi:

shiajun:
Only one problem in your rabies comparison, Yahtzee. Rabies transmission from human to human is dismal in its efectiveness. For the virus, infecting a human most likely means a dead end, because even in the saliva glands the viral load is low. Most human to human transmission has happened from organ transplants.

I do agree with the scenario though, it seems very unlikely for a zombie apocalypse to proceed, unless it's like that 12 second (and no less) zombie conversion in World War Z. Any virus apocalypse is more likely to play out like the movie Contagion, which is chilling in its plausibility. That's more of a horror movie than any zombie flick. People don't need a virus to become lethal in their aggression. Desperation is enough.

EDIT: Quick look-up form WHO says human to human bite is theoretically possible but it has never been confirmed. So yeah, we are pretty good at avoiding rabid humans, and their symptoms severely disabilitate them.

Which is why we go with the logical conclusion here. I'm surprised Yahtzee missed it honestly!

Rabies AIDS. You get all the biting, crazy scratching of Rabies, with the transferring capability of HIV/AIDS. Take that low viral load (thank you), plus it works double on those who are easily seduced by biting and nibbling! It is the perfect combination here, as it covers the others weakness.

Actually, I kept looking around and it seems that human saliva was, in laboratory conditions, able to transmit rabies to smaller mammals. So, potentially, a rabid human can effectively transmit the disease through biting. There have reports of infected humans biting care takers, but they are immediately treated, so who knows if they could developed any symptoms.

But I've already done my deadlifts and learned to light fires without matches from some native jungle dwellers. I guess I'll survive then. HOORAY!

On the other hand, I think we're getting closer to an appocalypse involving apes retaking the earth.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ask3Dn1ocIQ

I think the difference between a person with rabies and a zombie is that a zombie is trying to eat you, while a person with rabies is probably more interested in just beating the crap out of you, and seeing as biting isn't the human being's primary offensive capability, it makes sense that rabies hasn't widely spread from bite attacks.

That said, if we had an airborne case, then we're definitely in a load of trouble.

I don't enjoy survival games. I enjoy action or stealth games with survival elements. Like Metal Gear Solid 3. I was hoping that Far Cry 3 and the latest Tomb Raider would have some deeper survival elements mixed in. Ubisoft and Crystal Dynamics really missed an opportunity there. I find games where the emphasis is on survival quite dull to be honest.

The zombie apocalypse is a bizarre concept to me and the idea of people wanting it to happen is even more bizarre. It's not normal to wish death on so many people and you really shouldn't be hoping for the lives of billions of people to end just so you can live out your no-society-can-tell-me-what-do-now Mad Max fantasy. Note that in none of these apocalyptic scenarios is anyone every happy about them. Well, except the murderous psychopaths who can now murder to their hearts content.

As for why we love survival games, I wonder if it somehow because it satisfies our natural instincts to survive, something we don't usually get to experience too much these days. Yes, I would argue that life is extremely difficult, but barring any extenuating circumstances, it's nothing compared to what people used to have to do to survive. So maybe it's kind of to experience that without any real consequences. It's like how people love to play horror games to be scared, but no one would actually want to do any of those things that horror protagonist have to do.

That's my impression of it, anyway. Or maybe it's because only just now are survival games coming into high demand after so many years of generic shooters.

HA! Love the end Yahtzee. You're a very shrewd book salesman. ;D

Also; I think you're kind of forgetting the biggest issue with how zombies can't work.
(Besides that dead bodies won't work for them)

How are they going to know what's a normal human, and what's a zombie?

The only zombies that you could explain doing that are magic/"bullS#!T syfy" zombies, and in that case we either got magic or nonsense science going on against us, so we're all dead. ;p

But if zombies are just like mad(as in crazy) people with really bad rabies, then how could they tell?
They'd probably kill each other if there were more than one of them.

On today's Extra Punctuaion: Actually not a whole lot about "why do we love survival games?"

Hmmm, well for the original question, I'd counter it by saying "why do people like The Sims?" that's pretty much what The Survival genere is in a nutshell when you get down to it. For the most part your spending a lot of time with a toolbox trying to complete your own perfect little project and living space. Inevitably once your done you want to try and build something else, and well... there you go. This whole game style seems like someone pretty much decided to make "The Sims" more of a game where you control one character, and there are more hardcore penalties for failing to meet the needs of the character your controlling, as well as making things more challenging by inserting elements that are going to try and mess up your stuff and force you to be more careful. The increased gamability drew more people into what was already a fairly successful genere to begin with. The increasing multiplayer options are simply born of the same desire a lot of people have had to share their Sims creations already, and presumably to also be able to mess with someone. Making it ultimately easier than ever before for community projects, or so you can show off your highly customized Nazi SS War Crimes camp that you lovingly constructed based on holocaust footage... or that giant golden lava-spewing wang Yahtzee mentioned as a possibility in his Minecraft review for that matter.... along with other more sane creations of course. I suppose "Second Life with the ability to shoot people in the face" also fits to an extent but it's not quite big enough and with almost all of these games in early access it remains to be seen if the creation tools will ever get that good, or will simply remain at the whole "blocks and crafting" level.


-

As far as the Zombie Apocalypse goes I have to say I've had similar thoughts for a very long time myself, and have not been shy about sharing them. To me the issue with the portrayal isn't so much the "wiping out huge amounts of people" aspect of things, but rather the state of affairs persisting as long as it does. Assuming any people are left, especially some of those with resources, things are going to be brought under some degree of control, and honestly you'd probably have more to worry about from whomever has the biggest group of organized gun wielders and is putting together the new emergency government than anything. Typically such things fall apart from me when you see things like "The Walking Dead" where we're supposed to believe zombies overran hardened military positions or somehow overcame tanks, without any real justification for how that occurs. What's more the whole "trope" of them being relentless and endless and having to run from them as an unconfrontable force of nature makes no real sense, because their numbers are in fact quite limited. A comparatively small group of armed people could very well clear out entire areas of them, rather than needing to run away, and indeed it would be considerably more efficient. I find it eye rolling when you see things like the remake of "Dawn of The Dead" (I think it was) when some dude presumably fires off several thousand rounds of ammo from his roof... an accomplished sharpshooter pretty much dropping one per shot, and doesn't make any dent in the horde... that's just beyond belief because really you drop several thousand people (that's more than many might think) and it's going to have a definite impact on the population of most areas, especially the town around your average suburban shopping mall.

That said the initial outbreak and a short term apocalyptic crisis is easy to justify, giving people a few months of hell and depopulating the world. In a lot of zombie fiction the central set up is that the virus has a very short incubation time before causing a lethal response and reanimation, unlike rabies, also unlike rabies there is no real cure at the time it happens. It follows a sort of "hot zone" type route where by the time it's known it already has been carried to the far corners of the earth and is spreading exponentially through the population.... or basically a bunch of people get infected, keel over, die, and then get up and start killing the comparatively small population of people that are at least immune to the airborn form (but presumably not to the direct injection into the bloodstream via saliva or other bodily fluids). It's been known for a long time that a virus could in theory wiped out huge amounts of humanity VERY quickly, and indeed it's the basis for biological warfare and why there is a global ban on it. Indeed a lot of zombie virus stories approach it from the avenue that it's a biological weapons experiment that gets out of hand. Or the unexpected results of medical research, after all being able to repair necrotized tissue is one of the holy grails of medical science and actually would do a LOT for humanity, with some imagination you could see how such an experiment MIGHT lead to a zombie outbreak if all of the safeguards somehow failed or terrorists weaponized it or whatever (though real world safeguards are far more intense than in movies, making a lot of these scenarios kind of implausible since it would take a lot more than one greedy researcher or whatever).

Another popular bit with zombie outbreaks is to justify it as a sort of "slow burn" which is to say that the initial form of the virus has a long incubation time before it kills and re-animates, though storywise it rapidly mutates later to spread quicker for it's own survival. The idea being that when the epidemic starts people just know there is some kind of flu-like epidemic on the loose, and have no idea it's lethal on the level you eventually see or causes re-animation. This means you start seeing the sick people brought into hospitals (in highly urban areas) and when they fill up shipped out to emergency camps, and even military bases which are oftentimes designated for crisis situations like this. As a result when people start dying, and re-animating, and the virus mutates to spread quicker and pass from bite to bite, the zombies are already in the middle of most of the most effective people to deal with it, who are also blindsided, and as a result most of the soldiers, police, firemen, doctors, etc... who were tapped for the crisis die first and/or have the highest concentrations of zombies in them, actually moving outward from the places of safety (which also means a lot of people that aren't effective wind up fleeing into the hordes trying to get to refuges that were the first to fall).

The point is it's easy to justify the deaths of billions of people with just a nasty virus without even needing the zombies. The problem of course being with the zombies when you add them as the primary problem after the spread, is that even if .1% of the population survived there shouldn't be much of an issue within a couple of months, well other than the impact of large scale depopulation, forming new governments, and similar things. Nobody would likely be forced to flee encroaching hordes, or live like a scavenging nomad unless they wanted to (which some people might, as it does have a sort of appeal for those with an independent spirit).

I'll be expecting a plethora of "what's your jam plan" threads in the forums in three, two, one....

At their best, zombies were never the focus of their own stories- they were a backdrop of extreme and unrelenting menace to which the survivors had to adapt, the danger that made heroes and villains of ordinary people. It's true that a zombie outbreak commonly shown (patient zero bites a bunch of people in a hospital, society breaks down in a manner of days) just couldn't realistically come to pass, but the "how we got here" is typically incidental in a good zombie apocalypse; it's "what do you do when the dead hunger for your flesh" that's the... err, meat of the story.

Why do I love survival games? I guess they're just different enough from your typical super-military FPS games to be a refreshing change of pace. (They can get boring to me, though- I quit playing Don't Starve after about five days.)

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