Spreading the disease – zombies, brains and gaming

I was at a conference with the company I work for the other day. In the midst of discussions about the new project planning system that is on its way and about lichen, fish and snakes and stuff we normally talk about at my work, we suddenly had to rise and walk over to another room where we got a rather lighthearted and very professional talk about what is good for the brain and how to stimulate it.

The only problem I had was that all I could think about was “BRAIIIIIIIINS” and zombies. Yes, I was rather tired and in real need of getting at least one game played with my very nice, but rather un-gamey colleagues.

Later that evening I managed to convince a few of the others to play a round of Zombie dice with me and my restless soul found it´s peace and I could go to bed without the game-itch still in my nerves. Zombie dice is maybe not a very deep game, but as most really light games it is good for some nice trash-talking, as a filler or as in this case, to go with a nice glass of red wine. If you haven´t encountered it, it is a push-your-luck dice-rolling game, where you draw dice out of a cup, roll them, save all brains (good to eat) and shotguns (bad for you). You then draw and roll more dice until you either decide to stop and count your collected brains for points or get three or more shotguns and get no points this round. We got a couple of games, had some good laughs about luck and bad luck, naïve overconfidence and boring safe-playing and then went off to bed.

Later that night I kept thinking about Zombies. How they seem to have such a wide appeal to many, many gamers. But not to me. I cannot get enthusiastic about the whole zombie business. To me, it is all rather one-dimensional, repetitive and depressing. It just doesn´t trigger my imagination. I thought about if there was anything that could make me more interested or sympathetic to the theme. Finally I realized that there is one thing: Socially, zombies and I work according to the same script!

  1. Identify humans
  2. Get brains
  3. Spread infection

Unfortunately, that´s where the similarities end (except on frequent occasions, when I have had too little sleep). Zombies want brains to eat, I want them to manipulate into gamer-brains. Zombies spread zombie-infection, I spread gamer-infection. But still, being a gamer-missionary is a bit like being a zombie! There is a chance of mutual understanding! Maybe I should pre-order Dead of Winter?

Questions

  1. Are there any themes that you, dear reader, have difficulties in getting into?
  2. Why zombies?
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3 thoughts on “Spreading the disease – zombies, brains and gaming”

  1. In my mind Zombies are just a function, providing external threat to a situation. What is usually way more interesting is to see what goes on inside the group of survivors/brains.

    Same threat could be aliens, monsters, crazy chu-chu cultists, murderers etc. etc. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that a horrible lethal threat is close by, forcing the group together, usually consisting of people with very little in common, from very different walks of life, causing all kinds of friction and drama.

    That being said though…I’m in the camp that thinks a cool plot outside of the group doesn’t HURT! So any zombie film with a cool plot on top of all this has my attention.

    And maybe that is where the difference lies? Most stories about Aliens, monsters and murderers require at least a hint of a plot out side the group dynamics. That’s no guarantee that it will be a good or original one of course, but at least it’s there. You have to find out who the killer is and stop him/her/them… hem? Or you have to find a way to get rid of the aliens, defeat the monster(s) etc.

    When it comes to zombies, more often than not, the sense of impending doom is so thick they have more or less tossed the idea of salvation over board. It’s never (or almost never) a question about whether or not you can stop them. You can’t. It’s too late.

    The only valid question is whether or not you and your little group will survive until tomorrow. And if you will get killed by zombies before you get back-stabbed by a member of the group who started to hate you five sessions back. Add to this a full-blown Post Apocalypse Theme, where the world is coming to an end and what you get is a neat package full of dramatic possibilities. But the drama is 90% internal.

    Sooo… games… I don’t know… I’m with you I think. There is a huge inflation of zombie themed games right now. Waaayyy to many of them, and not half of them is any good, and most of them could probably be re-themed, the zombie thing simply being a skin drawn over a basic mechanic. (Hey, have you played Dino-Dice? 😉 ) I’m still in the danger-zone when it comes to Zombiecide!… might buy it… but not because I’m crazy about zombies, but because I want a cool co-op dungeoncrawl with tons of minis, and since I hate Descent there’s really not much else out there that fits the bill, except Zombiecide…

  2. Oh maybe I was writing so much I forgot to actually SAY something? 😉

    I think the anonymity of Zombies, the fact that you don’t need a plot, or reason, or hope of clearing them out… ever! Gives you an edge when it comes to focusing on group drama, since there is nothing else there to distract you.

    … you know… except for the occasional: “Braaaiins!”

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