What on earth (or deep space) is it about zombies that keep us so enthralled? Is it their chic clothing, torn and tattered just so? Their seemingly magnanimous good-will towards all mankind, that they keep their arms forever stretched out, as if just seeking a comforting hug? Their sonorous screeches?

Ask a movie fanatic and the answer might be mixed up with the desire to be scared bejeeberless. Something I still don’t understand. But that’s beside the point. Zombies really began their heyday when George Romero made his 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead. But it seems that the rage didn’t really take hold until his second film a decade later, Dawn of the Dead. A cute rehash of the former title. Or perhaps he was just being lazy.

Notice the humorous ‘They Won’t Stay Dead!’ How frustrating. Also worth note, none of these zombies appear decayed. I suppose this was more due to the lack of computerized graphic editing.

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of soundtrackcollector.com.

In Romero’s film, the zombies are created by a space probe blowing up in the atmosphere.[1] Nowadays however, most zombies are created by some kind of plague or virus. You can’t turn around in a theater without seeing something along the lines of 28 Days Later, Resident Evil (Numbers and subtitles vary), Quarantine, Day of the Dead, etc.

We even have a few comedic parodies of zombie movies. Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead being the most well-known. Notice the header? A bit different than Romero’s catchy one-liner.

 

 

 

 

(Shaun of the Dead poster. Gotta love Simon Pegg.) Courtesy of impawards.com.

A lot of the zombie craze these days revolves around either gory bloodshed or comedy. I recently bought a book, Dr. Dale’s Zombie Dictionary: The A-Z Guide to Staying ALIVE. A definite recommended read for anyone worried about surviving during the impending apocalypse. I have fears of my own, living in a pretty built-up area, and not having a house very suitable for repelling the undead. But this book will soon equip even the most weak-kneed citizen with tools to prevent themselves falling into their clutches. Included in the book are answers to such useful questions like:

“How can a sheep help defend me against the undead?”

“What will the response of the women’s institute be to an attack?”

“What’s the most useful style of dance to know in the event of the apocalypse?”

It even comes with a 30-day money back guarantee in the event you die during the apocalypse.

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of amazon.co.uk

But wait, you’re all saying, what about the rise of zombies in games? Of course I haven’t forgotten about this enormous aspect of zombie culture. I was saving it for later. Calm down geeks.

The first zombie game, released in 1984, was rather unoriginally titled Zombie Zombie. It’s adorable 8-bit styling and garish colors remind one of everything that was great in retro video games.

It even had a disclaimer by designer Sandy White. “Due to strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this game in no way endorses a belief in the occult.” [2] Wow. I’d like to see anyone bother putting that on a game today.

 

 

(I love the ‘Paint’ program type graphics. I think Sandy’s three year old daughter drew this for her.) Courtesy of gamesradar.com

After this, zombie games ranged from Zombies Ate My Neighbors (1993), various renditions of Resident Evil (1996-), Dead Rising (2006), Left 4 Dead (2008), and others, of which there are too many to list. Zombies also make guest appearances in such games as Wolfenstein 3D, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Call of Duty: World at War.

I looked at the top ten games from several sites, and was surprised that zombie games ranked either far down or not at all. Resident Evil was 9th according to gamerankings.com, and 7th according to the Gamer’s Edition of Guinness World Records. Half-Life 2 did make it to 5th in “Game Informer Magazine,” but most of the top game awards go to Zelda, various Mario games, Call of Duty, Halo, and Grand Theft Auto.

Of course, most of these polls are taken in flux, when the novelty of the game might sway the masses for a while before equalizing.

My own personal memories of zombie games come from watching my elder brother play. Never interested in playing them myself, save for a little Kirby now and then, I loved watching an expert muck around killing things. For anyone who’s ever played Half-Life 2, Ravenholm should ring a bell. That level introduced me to fast zombies, as I recall. Creepy things.

And here we see the intrepid Gordon, with his ever-present, trusty crowbar. I have a special fondness for this game. The storyline really appealed to me, and the little nuggets of scientific experimentation thrilled me. Also on my list of favorites is Portal. [3] I even have a ringtone. I love cake.

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of tutorialpark.com

For any avid gamers who aren’t satisfied with my admittedly brief recount of zombie games, check out the footnotes. Not that you need them. If you really are an avid gamer you should be able to tell me everything about zombies anyway. Because you have, of course, fought them all, right?

OTTERMEI//


[1] http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/29/oreilly-godzilla-science-technology-breakthroughs-zombies.html

[2] http://www.gamepro.com/article/features/216706/a-history-of-zombies-in-video-games/

[3] There might even be a whole post dedicated to this game. If I’m still alive after this, that is…

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