Why Do We Love Survival Games?

Pyrian

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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.
 

Callate

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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.
 

Xenominim

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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.
 

Grimh

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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.
 

Kenjitsuka

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"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...
 

shiajun

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cursedseishi said:
shiajun said:
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.
 

IrisNetwork

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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
 

Infernal Lawyer

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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.
 

Adam Jensen_v1legacy

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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.
 

Sheo_Dagana

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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.
 

Imp_Emissary

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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.
[sub](Besides that dead bodies won't work for them)[/sub]

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[sub](as in crazy)[/sub] people with really bad rabies, then how could they tell?
They'd probably kill each other if there were more than one of them.
 

Enlong

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

Therumancer

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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.


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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).
 

The Rogue Wolf

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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.)
 

Enlong

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For why we like survival games, I find myself thinking of how Extra Credits articulated why we like horror, and why we like stealth.

Respectively, we like horror because it provides the thrill of terror and disempowerment in a safe space. We get to feel he fear of trying to survive without putting our actual lives at risk. We like stealth because we like the feeling of triumphing despite being in a position without much power. It's still an escapist fantasy, but instead of the power fantasy of being extremely strong, it's more of a fantasy of being able to win against odds that would destroy a frontal approach. Stealth games are more like puzzle games in that sense.

I think he reason we like survival games is related to these. The whole "roughing it in the wilderness" angle draws on he idea of being in a rough situation without actually putting ourelves at risk. And if we survive the game's challenges, and especially if we find a way to thrive, it feels good, like we've succeeded in taking an extremely hostile situation, and bringing it down.

"Take that, Creepers! My solid gold tower is a monument to my victory!"
 

Vzzdak

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I've been following the Project Zomboid discussions over in the Steam forums. An upcoming feature is apparently the introduction of a car driving mechanics. But what I find amusing about the concept is that players approach the concept from the perspective that *they* will be the ones to have the greatest advantage, to be the "king of the hill," so to speak. Whereas having cars makes it much more likely that, after having established your safehouse/fortress, a gang of (say) forty road warriors will blow into town and murder the hell out of you.
 

baba44713

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While we are at the feasibility of "zombie virus" spread...

The "Walking Dead" series actually introduced a workaround, which is basically that the virus is airborne and everyone is already infected, the virus just waits until you are actually dead to make you, well, be less dead and more sorta move around getting all hungry for human flash. What bugs me about this "solution" is that the "bite" infections make no sense anymore, meaning that they should be no less dangerous than a bullet wound or any semi-serious injury yet everyone still treats the zombie bites as a death (ok, "undeath") sentence.

They did at one point offer some bullshit explanation, like the zombie bite has a large concentration of bacteria which greatly reduces your chance of surviving the bite which technically makes it turn you into a zombie faster, but this a) actually muddles things a bit too much kinda hurting the issue more than it helps it and b) still doesn't explain why a bite is an automatic death sentence since the "bacteria cocktail" will have different ingredients for each zombie that manages to bite you. If you are the very first victim of a new zombie who up until the zombification had a great dental hygiene than a small nibble should be approximately as dangerous as a tiny papercut. But try explaining *that* to the crazy ***** adamant to put a knife into your brain ASAP.
 

MaddKossack115

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Yahtzee, that was a shameless, shameless, SHAMELESS plug for your "carnivorous jam" book, and you oughta be ashamed of yourself!!! Especially since the only way "carnivorous jam" can work is the way the green slime worked in the "OH MY GOOOOOOOOODDD!!!" scene from Troll 2!

Joking aside, I'd like to point out that all the GOOD zombie fiction out there either A) has zombification a process of reanimating the dead beyond zombie-bite infection (George Romero's "Living Dead" series, "The Walking Dead" franchise, etc.), making "it's only transferred via bites" not a factor, and B) has the "infected" humans be perfectly alive, just balls-to-the-walls homicidal and horde-like, like they're on a 24/7 adrenaline overdrive ("28 Days Later", "28 Weeks Later", "Left 4 Dead" series, etc.), meaning the slow speed of zombie uprising is not a factor. Your version of zombies only being able to infect humans by bites alone, while being the slow, shambling Romero types, is pretty much a hybrid only made by Max Brooks, in his "Zombie Survival Guide" and "World War Z" - and even HE had to make the majority of the world completely genre-blind to zombie uprisings since literally the dawn of humanity up until the aforementioned World War Z, and "The Great Panic" (i.e. everybody panicking about the end-times) did MORE damage than the zombie uprising, at least at first - and even THEN, humanity was eventually able to get it's shit together, and clean undead house once they switched tactics around to specifically fight zombies.

As for why survival games are such a popular genre, it's less the idea of being alone as it is finding an unspoiled wilderness, and carving your way into the ecology our caveman founders did millenia ago - first you play as a hunter/gatherer, using the crudest of tools to gather enough food, hold off hostile wildlife, and make a bare-bones shelter for the night, but then you get to forge better tools, build better shelters, maybe even develop agricultural, self-sustaining food supplies. Eventually, (in games like "Minecraft", at least), you can use your resources to build above-and-beyond mere survival, and build practical world wonders with the materials. Maybe the fact you do it by yourself (or a close, tight-knit survivor group like "The Last Stand: Dead Zone", or some more friendlier characters in a "DayZ" game) is mostly to direct the feeling of the accomplishment to yourself, not because all of us are really lone-wolves at heart.

Oh, and maybe it also has something to do with involving more thinking than your average "spunkgargleweewee" shoot 'em up. That too.
 

Gorrath

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Even if you adjust things and make the zombies intent on creating more through bites and then moving on, and giving them a more manic profile by having them sprint, you'd still have to explain how the outbreak wasn't contained by a half-competent army. These things aren't skulking around, waiting to jump you from behind and they certainly aren't taking down a tank platoon. A horde of zombies sprinting across open ground at a heavy machine gun emplacement is going to end with a lot of disabled zombies and a negligible body count for the army. The level of incompetence required to get a modern military force to somehow get overrun by zombies would be staggering.

As for survival games, I don' understand the question really. Escapism hinges on providing difficult but safe challenges for the mind, and this can be done through a kaleidoscope of tropes/memes/stories/characters. The survival genre is just another backdrop for a set of challenges that mimic real life considerations. One might enjoy the genre because it hews so closely to reality, just as one might enjoy a book or movie that is fiction, but written to be completely believable. You may as well ask why there are any books or movies written about survivalism; there is great appeal in mimicking the difficulty of the human condition without all our conveniences that make survival trivial. It makes it all the more realistic.