The Zombie Apocalypse
The recent Supreme Court ruling regarding video games has sparked some debate here on NB (here and here). Some are in favor of it and some are opposed and some have used the discussion to express their views about the merits – or lack thereof – of video games in general. And though I agree with some and disagree with other, all have failed to take into account one important factor – the inevitable zombie apocalypse.
Once the brain eating hordes begin to appear, the constant threat they will pose as well as the inevitable breakdown in basic human services will make survival and self reliance a top priority. Members of the military and law enforcement who have survived the plague will, by virtue of their training and access to supplies and hardware, be in a good position to eke out an existence. But what about the rest of us?
This is where video games come in. For those of us without access to the sophisticated training simulators used by the military and law enforcement, the home gaming console or PC can become a valuable training tool for all of us – both young and old. The skill set necessary to take out virtual drug dealers or a computerized dragon will prove essential in a zombie dominated world.
While it is to be expected that the grownups will provide the brunt of the work necessary to secure food, shelter and to fighting off roaming hoards of the undead, junior’s roll shouldn’t be ignored or dismissed. It is vital to start junior’s training today and video games need to be an integral part of that. In addition to the three Rs – reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic – a healthy dose of Resident Evil and Red Dead Redemption will help round out junior’s education – and the earlier this training begins, the better.
Video games can teach a number of important skills which can mean the difference between living another day and becoming a zombie souffle. These include…
1) Teamwork. When the shambling corpses start pouring out of the woodwork, the ability to work with others becomes essential. Whether to provide a united front to take out a band of brain-eaters or to provide assistance in scaling a wall to escape a sticky situation, teamwork is both appreciated and might just keep your cranium intact. The hours spent online with your chums developing strategies to take out that tough level boss or coordinating your flight paths to down a squadron of German fighters will carry over nicely to the real world when confronted with the ravenous undead.
2) Head Shots. A skilled gamer knows the importance of the head shot. In addition to targeting the only part of a zombie guaranteed to end its unholy existence, it also conserves on ammunition and helps develop a controlled and meticulous approach to fire arm use – and important skill which should be developed at an early age.
3) Stealth. When it’s ten thousand to three, the safe choice is to move on to less blighted pastures. Many games teach the art of stealth and for junior, this might be one of the most important skills he develops. Knowing how to take cover being a barrel, the corner of a building or the body of a rotting cow without drawing attention is key to survival when the odds are against you.
4) Patience. War has been described as long periods of boredom punctuated by brief moments of terror. The development of patience is vital to keeping a healthy perspective and a healthy brain. Gamers have long endured games with excessive load times, rambling cut scenes and repetitive and boring missions. Being able to deal with down time with a Zen like calm is important for the zombie survivalist and an admirable and appreciated character trait for junior to start developing at an early age.
5) Scavenging. With everything from food to ammo sure to be in short supply, being able to take a break from the business of separating zombies from their heads to look around for supplies is key to survival. Disciplined gamers know the importance of checking an area once it’s been cleared of bad guys for those all important pick-ups. Be it ammunition, medical supplies or food, you never know what you might find behind that crate if you don’t take the time to look. And let’s not forget the importance of checking the body of that zombie you just mowed down. Though he might have been an animated corpse a moment ago, he could have been a gun enthusiast in his former life. Checking that body might just net you a Glock or maybe even the only functioning grenade launcher left on the planet.
6) Improvisation. Scavenging will only get you so far. At some point, you’ll unload your last round into the face of a drooling zombie and then you’re in quite a pickle. The ability to think outside the box is a skill which gaming encourages. To the trained gamer, a hardware store isn’t a one-stop home improvement center – it's an opportunity to come up with creative, unique and fun ways to eliminate the undead. If gaming teaches anything it’s that if you can pick it up, you can probably use it as a weapon – be it a hammer, a drill or two chainsaws duct taped to the ends of a paddle. Encouraging creativity is an important part of junior’s upbringing so don’t discourage it – even if his idea of a flamethrower tied to the end of a cat seems less than effective.
Although video games provide an effective resource for junior’s training, they need to be used appropriately. If the game allows for different difficulty levels, make sure to set them all to the most challenging. No infinite lives, no infinite ammo and no infinite health. Tough love is in order here and though junior might complain about how hard the game is, he’ll appreciate it later on in life when the zombie brains hit the fan.
And I can’t emphasize this enough – disable any and all aim-assist features. There is no auto-aim in real life.
Despite some concerns about the violent content of some video games, I think it’s clear that given the inevitable zombie invasion, the pros more than outweigh the cons.
However, as a responsible parent, it is ultimately up to you to judge which games are appropriate for your child. Conveniently, just about every game is marked with a rating from the ESRB making the job of a responsible parent that much easier.