Apocalypse Gaming: Why Do People Love It So?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

Apocalypse Gaming: Why Do People Love It So?

Whilst on the hunt for news to discuss—and for once, not Nintendo-backed news—one of my favorite haunts for news came in from VentureBeat, who described the field of apocalypse gaming. Indeed, many of the biggest titles of the last few years were dealing with the apocalypse in one breed or another, and that lead to the inevitable question of why. Dealing as I do with video games—and also with movies, the close relative and progenitor of video games—I felt I had a reasonably good handle on why apocalypse gaming was so fondly received.

VentureBeat actually raised a few good points on its own. Art often reflects life, and as things are increasingly unstable in real life, so too does our art—movies and video games, and the like—reflect our life. Instability is an increasing part of life these days, so our entertainment gets a bit on the bleaker side as well. We essentially project a step farther: we see how the world around us gets a little more hostile and a little less civil every day. So we ask ourselves the inevitable question, what happens when we're out of civility and into full-on hostile?

By like token, we ask these questions of ourselves—and this isn't a point I noticed VentureBeat raising—but we can only project so far with the faculties of our imaginations. Thus we turn to art, a collective venture and the result of several imaginations in many cases, to product clearer visions of what the world may look like under such conditions. Another point not really noted was the idea of being ready. We're all familiar with how people train to do things; everything from retail jobs to professional sports involves some degree of training. But the idea of living in a hellish nightmare world-scape isn't exactly the kind of thing that you can study a couple nights a week down at the community college. Thus, those who wonder how they would fare in such an environment turn to what they can to simulate such a shocking condition: video games and movies. We have so many points when it comes to considering the apocalypse: zombie games are thick in number with things like "State of Decay," "DayZ," "Dead Island" and its sequel, and of course upcoming titles like "Dying Light" and the "Mad Max" series, plus the always-popular "Fallout" series as represented by "Fallout: New Vegas" and "Fallout 3." While the apocalypses in question are different--and it only gets more different when you consider movies--the basics kind of remain the same. Several games like "Fallout 3" and "Rust", for example, let you make your own tools

Of course, these aren't really predictors of what would happen, but rather, what could happen. They are representations of one person's imagination, or a collective of imaginations, but hardly a reflection of reality. Perhaps somewhere, there is some virus or some micro-organism or some technology that could generate some of the effects that we commonly see in movies or video games. And if this were the case, then perhaps our interactions with said phenomena might make us better suited to face them down in reality. Perhaps, but perhaps not. It's a hypothetical at best, and a lot of gamers are likely eager to err on the side of caution. Thus, while we consider the various points of art imitating life, and the value of highly character-focused gameplay, let's also consider the concept of testing one's mettle against perhaps the worst circumstances a human being can face: those brought about by the very end of the world as we know it.
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