Friday, August 30, 2013

Join the Fray: Apocalypse in Video Games


The end of the world or the apocalypse is, perhaps, one of the most debated and talked about topics since the dawn of man. The topic of apocalypse was further publicized these past few years because of various end-of-the-world predictions such as the Mayan Calendar and the Malachy Prophecy. But instead of panicking and hiding in their bunkers, the entertainment industry used this opportunity and created TV series and games centered on post-apocalyptic worlds.

Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic games are mainstream in the gaming industry today. Games such as Fallout and The Walking Dead feature a world that had collapsed, with no government and order to be seen, and the players are forced to fend for themselves against monsters, zombies, and even other people. Apocalyptic themed games had already sold millions of dollars and more of these games are still to come. But why do people love these games? What does liking apocalyptic games say about the human nature?

Apocalyptic games, especially the survival types, promotes a concept that most people want to achieve - independence and freedom. Apocalyptic games are usually open-world (the player can go anywhere he wants and do whatever he wants) and open-ended (the player chooses his path and his choices affect the game). Playing such games gives the player a sense of freedom that he may not feel in the real world or in other games because the apocalyptic world would have little to no rules at all.

Curiosity could be another cause why we love apocalyptic games so much. Are you not curious what would happen if the world ended? No government. Limited to no technology. People turned to zombies. No family and friends. Just you versus the world. Don't you have that little desire to see the end of civilization? Wouldn't you like to be there, in the chaos and commotion of an ending world? What if the bad guys won and the world was destroyed? What would it look like? Apocalyptic games answers this questions with bizarre worlds destroyed by a nuclear holocaust or a world were the living dead outnumber the living, a thousand to one. Plots of apocalyptic games also peek the interest of gamers as they try to know what caused the end of the world.

Lastly, the craving for action and adventure makes people love apocalyptic games. Being in the ruins of the world you once knew is a unique conquest itself. Apocalyptic games also demand difficult choices that brings out the very morals of the player. Do you risk yourself or do you run away? Is it enough to just survive? Being the one making these important decisions make the players feel important and appreciated. The heart pounding action of these games also makes players feel more alive.


Fulfillment is the trophy earned by players after finishing a difficult game. But surviving the apocalypse and making the world a better place in the process brings about a greater kind of fulfillment. Playing apocalyptic games became somewhat like a testing ground for the real thing. Maybe, surviving in the game makes the players feel safer in real life because they feel that they are prepared when the real apocalypse comes. This could be the reason why people seem to be open to the idea of an apocalypse. Many would even say, "Bring it on!" as if they are ready for it.

Somehow, being exposed to vast amounts of media about the apocalypse made it a norm. Moreover, apocalyptic games allowed us to experience some of it. In doing so, apocalyptic games made the horrors of the end thrilling rather than frightening. Maybe transforming the fear into a more acceptable form helped us cope with the prospect of inevitable death when the apocalypse comes. I think that this shows the indomitable will of a human being to survive.



I'm sorry that I cannot make a reflection paper for the Sword and Scales Lecture. I arrived too late and needed to go too soon and I missed most of the lecture. I saw the first part of your lecture about the Apocalyptic Theme in Devil Survivor 2, though, and so I thought I'd make a post about the apocalyptic theme in games to make up for the required paper. Sorry again


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