Day Z and the Fear of Isolation

I have always had an interest in I guess what we can call the zombie culture. I have seen all of the classic zombie movies from the B rated, comical, and the ones that are supposed to be true horror. I have speculated, like many other about what I would do in the zombie apocalypse. Re-watched all of the movies and analyzed and criticized what the characters were doing right and wrong.

In Dawn of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead there is the classic barricading to keep the zombies out. In 28 Days later and World War Z head long running and fighting. In I am Legend and even The Walking Dead they hit on the true survival of an apocalypse. Where zombies or the infected are not the only threats. Hunger, thirst, other survivors and loneness can be worse than the zombies.

I am a gamer. I started out with the very first video game, “Pong”. For the longest time Real Time Strategy and simulations were the only games that I would play. First Person Shooters always appeared cheesy to me. After Half Life and Black Hawk Down I rediscovered FPS. One day I heard that CoD had a “zombie” level where the player had to endure waves zombies until they were overwhelmed. It sound interesting except CoD was not a subculture I was interested in, Run and Gun.

That’s when I discovered Zombie Panic. It was a game based on the Half Life engine and it was hilarious. The zombies walked like the ones in the old black and white movie zombies and they were controlled by other players. Whether you had to complete a mission or barricade and defend for a specified time it was zombie tag. It lacked that real survival/horror feel that you expect in an apocalypse.

Then came DayZ. It started for me watching video. There were a group of survivors looking for food when the screaming started. The video was from the perspective of a player on look out while other survivors went into a village to look for supplies. In the video three men open a door to a large barn and went in. that’s when the it started. Two survivors made it to back to the door. The second survivor died in the doorway. The third survivor, running for his life holding an empty revolver ran straight for his remaining friends with a running, snarling, growling, groaning horde in tow. When the scene was over and the zombies were dispatched the group of survivors were reduced to one third of their original number and they still had no food or water.

I have played several versions of this game since that movie. There was one night (my only free time), while playing DayZ Standalone that I experienced those other things that the movies makers tried to communicate in I am Legend and The Walking Dead, despair and loneliness. I was doing my normal stroll across the countryside from village to village looking for supplies. I had learned how to avoid the zombies or put they down as needed. I came to this town where the only thing living were the birds singing. I stood looking down the street, abandoned cars and trash everywhere. Doors randomly open or closed. Smashed windows. I hadn’t seen a live person for days. The last one shot at me. That’s when I saw him through the window. A survivor rummaging through someone’s kitchen looking for food like I was.

Terror replaced loneliness.

I was not one of those people that killed other survivors for a bite to eat or drink. I tried to avoid confrontation. As I tried to back away a zombie stumbled around the corner and saw me. I took off running for the woods with the zombie in hot pursuit. While I was running from the zombie the other survivor must have seen me, there was a gun shot. I kept running looking over my shoulder occasionally to see if the zombie was still there. There was another gun shot and the zombie was gone. I kept running. I kept running until I discovered that I was lost and the loneliness and despair came back.

I logged out to play Left 4 Dead 2 with people that I have “known” for years, but only by their online names. Ironically L4D2 is a Run and Gun zombie apocalypse game, but you had teammates that relied on you and you relied on them for survival.

Jim C heads up the IT department for a community college.  His spare time is spent leaping to the aid of stranded zombie hunters.

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