For me, The Last of Us was a primary factor in purchasing a PS4 over competing consoles (or building a gaming PC) and I stand by that position to this day. After my wife bought me the game thinking we were going to enjoy a play through together -as we had done with Uncharted (made by the same people)- she was quickly disappointed. The violent combat and dark storyline sent her packing immediately, though she did ask me lots of questions about the end of the game when I came down after my last session with a tear streaked face. The game is a masterwork of storytelling and I’ll talk about it forever as a defining moment in my understanding of video games as an art form. The Last of Us was a story not about zombies but rather who we become when we reach the end of ourselves, and how love changes us. But most ‘zombie stories’ aren’t really about zombies, zombies are just an environmental hazard, a worldbuilding question.
With buzz building for the sequel to my beloved zombie game it seems a good time to talk about zombies. So, for the next couple of entries I’m going to do a deeper dive into the shambling denizens of our nightmares and how you can add them effectively into your world.
A brief overview of my sensibilities with zombies:
This is sort of a disclaimer. I want you, dear readers, to understand where my influences come from for this sub genre before I jump in too deeply.
My love of zombies in fiction didn’t begin with the Last of Us. I should say, right off the bat, that my tastes in this are more contemporary, perhaps too contemporary for some. I missed Evil Dead (the whole series) and Dawn of the Dead and probably 1000 other titles that’ll disappoint hardcore zombie lovers. Though I did catch this one:
I’m not certain I’d recommend that. It was Peter Jackson’s pre Lord of the Rings work and, I think, it still holds the record for the most fake blood used in a movie at 80 gallons.
Anyway, I digress. My sense of zombie movies really more hovers around Resident Evil (the movies), Zombieland, The Walking Dead (TV Show), Shaun of the Dead, World War Z (the book), 28 Days Later and a couple of other entries. In the next few posts I’ll be leaning into some of these fictional works and what made their zombie filled worlds rich and interesting, how the zombie sub genre has many commonalities throughout its canon but can also create stories rich and varied in tone, we’ll talk about strategies to craft rich zombie settings that will engage your audience.
So, buckle up, pull the rip cord on your chainsaw, lawnmower or buzzsaw and join me on this zombie filled worldbuilding ride.
Stay tuned for more writing from the WorldCraft Club as we explore worldbuilding and the crafting of fictional settings to inspire your creativity.
We’re happy to host guest blogs on here whenever we can, it gives James a break and let’s other people contribute their ideas. Let us know if you have a worldbuilding concept or strategy to get off your chest, we’d love to hear it.