Ludic Zombies: An Examination of Zombieism in Games

Backe Hans-Joachim Aarseth Espen
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Zombies have become ubiquitous in recent years in all media, including digital games. Zombies have no soul or consciousness, and as completely alien, post-human Other, they seem like the perfect game opponent. Yet their portrayal is always politically charged, as they have historically been used as an allegory for slavery, poverty, and consumerism, and may be read as stand-ins for threatening but too human Others of unwanted class, ethnicity of political opinion. The paper explores the trope‟s iconography and how it is used in a number of paradigmatic games, from Plants vs. Zombies and Call of Duty to the Resident Evil series, Left 4 Dead, Fallout 3 (the Tenpenny Tower quests) and DayZ. Through theses comparative analyses, the paper demonstrates the range of usages of zombies in games, ranging from the facile use of a (seemingly) completely deindividuated humanoid for entertainment purposes to politically aware ludifications of the zombie‟s allegorical dimension.


Vertigo and verticality in Super Monkey Ball

Johansson Troels Degn
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

The vertical dimension is crucial to Super Monkey Ball on all levels1, and invites us to meditate on vertigo and verticality, falling and failing in the construction of space and game-play in this game and in computer- games as such. In Super Monkey Ball, the vertical dimension should be mastered (landing on tiny islands with the ball glider), avoided (off golf courses, off race tracks, or off fight arenas elevated almost astronomically above the ground), although it may also invite to dangerous downslide acceleration or short-cuts that will give your baby monkey ball a lead in the race (descending tilting planes, falling from one level to another while staying on the course). But most notably, verticality is emphasized by falling and failing. Slipping off the race-track or shooting oneself off the golf course by mistake always means dropping into a spectacular free fall; losing the poor baby monkey in dark swamps, sparkling oceans, or void, endless desertlike spaces. Meditating on this aesthetization of falling and failing in Super Monkey Ball, this brief study outlines the peculiar allegorical, albeit funny and social character of this game, which seems just as important as the playing of the game as such.