Enough with the Zombies Already! (A.K.A. Don’t Say Zombie Unless You Mean It)

When I was a child of say 5 or 6 years-old, my mom found me throwing one of my G.I. Joe action figures into the ceiling fan. It wasn’t malicious or anything. I just wanted to see how far he’d fly. But as she explained, “That’s not how you play with toys.” I lost the privilege of playing with that particular toy for the rest of the day, and was only given it back when I showed that I knew the right way to play. We need to do the exact same thing with zombies and the videogame industry. They’re out of hand and it’s downright ridiculous. Some folks out there clearly don’t know how to play with their toys and need to have them taken away.

This is something that’s been building for a while, but it’s all really come to a head in the last month or two. Games that don’t need zombies are getting them, and for the worse. For starters, ‘Red Dead Redemption.’ The “Undead Nightmare Pack” will add zombies, new wild animals and ghost town quests to the game.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the combination of cowboys and zombies is underrated. Back in the day, I was one of the very few players of Doomtown, a collectible card game set in an undead infested Wild West.

There’s just no place for it in the story of ‘Red Dead Redemption.’ Adding zombies into the world of a game like ‘Borderlands’ is no problem, but ‘Red Dead’ is based in the real world. It’s supposed to be over the top at times, but it’s not supposed to be supernatural. It cheapens the game world and it cheapens the zombies.

‘Crackdown 2’ is a great example of a game that added zombies – called freaks in the game – when it just wasn’t needed. Instead of a brilliant sleeper hit, the name ‘Crackdown’ is synonymous with an underdeveloped game that threw in the undead menace for absolutely no reason. Against the super powered heroes of ‘Crackdown,’ the zombies aren’t a threat. They simply serve as something that gets run over at night.

If you really want to get sick of zombies fast, you’ll want to check out the Indie Game section on Xbox Live. Sorting alphabetically on marketplace, you can find ‘Zombie Armageddon,’ ‘Zombie Estate,’ ‘Zombie Hunter,’ ‘Zombie Mania, ‘ Zombie Outhouse,’ ‘Zombie Sniper 3D,’ ‘Zombie Sniper HD,’ ‘Zombie Square, ‘ and ‘Zombies 2.0.’ That’s ten zombie games, and those are only the ones that start with the word “zombie.” You can bet that most of them simply threw zombies in to guarantee sales.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out one of shining beacons of glory on the otherwise dismal Xbox Live Indie Marketplace. ‘I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!!1’ is an entertaining enough game with a hilarious song that pokes fun at the entire zombie craze. It goes as far as to admit in song that, “I put zombies in it so you would play it.” It’s well worth your dollar for that alone.

It’s not that I don’t like zombies. I really do. I read ‘The Zombie Survival Guide’ and ‘World War Z.’ I even got the ‘World War Z’ audio book. I picked up the SwedishNorwegian zombie Nazi (or is it Nazi zombie?) film ‘Dead Snow,’ the brilliant ‘Shaun of the Dead,’ and the less brilliant ‘Fido.’ I’ve even got a nice collection of ‘Walking Dead’ comics.

These are examples of zombies done right. They’re not movies and books that just threw zombies into the mix. They’re the real deal. Zombies are at the forefront, not tossed in as an afterthought.

With so many people doing zombies badly – like the countless videogame companies adding them for easy sales, or George Romero trudging out yet another nearly unwatchable movie – it’s harder than ever for a zombie fan to scrape through the muck and find something that’s actually good.

From one videogame playing, zombie loving blogger to a whole world of developers, game designers and authors: Please, don’t say zombie unless you mean it.


  1. Prayformojo

    Mutt or Law (the one with the dog, these soldiers have names)

    I disagree on the Red Dead DLC, I think it is fun to have a DLC pack (100% optional) that changes up the game considerably, plus it is timed with Halloween and I am sure that the idea started with ghost towns (a stable in Western lore) and changed once it was brought up that you can’t shoot ghosts.

  2. Jane Morgan

    Zombies and robots, it would seen, are a form of censorship. Because killing humans is naughty, if the bodycount is high. Black blood/pulp is “safe.”

    Star Wars. Lord Of The Rings. If they want PG-13 box office, in movies or games, the enemy must be inhuman. Cartoon monsters. And everyone wants the money. I fear we are doomed to a future of hollow repackaged censored entertainment, for 95% of our big-budget fun.

    We don’t need to take away their toys. We need to give them back their balls.

  3. mlemaire

    It’s good to see someone calling people out on the overuse of zombies. A while back, I really hated ALL zombie-related forms of media, whether they were games, movies, or books. But then being exposed to some of the better stories, such as the Walking Dead comic, I came to appreciate zombie-fiction when it’s done right. But you’re right, people are simply adding zombies for the sake of zombies to the point that you’re potentially sacrificing something that could be much more interesting or more effective without the zombies. Left 4 Dead 1/2? Good work. Red Dead Redemption? Really? Come on now.

    Between this ridiculous influx of zombie-everything and the ‘glittering’ of vampires, is no monster safe? 😛

  4. HA

    “Dead Snow” is Norwegian, not Swedish. Just to clarify. Their next film is “Norwegian Ninja” and it looks awesome.

  5. Jmonster

    I’m surprised the mini-game in WaW, Nazi Zombies, wasn’t mentioned. Although it probably was thrown in at the last moment, they did a very good job with it (and continued to with the new maps that were released).

  6. Sammy

    So, what’s your opinion on Valve’s L4D franchise? It’s amazingly well done, and they only get better as the games are created. Not to mention Half-Life having zombies, seemingly as a secondary plot-point. They made perfect sense in the game, and they really added a whole level of depth. (The Ravenholm level..)

    Left 4 Dead came out right at the start of the zombie craze, and it definitely tromped over some of the other zombie games released. (And some mods like Zombie Panic: Source, and Zombie Master.)

    Just wondering.

    • Honestly, I never really got into Left 4 Dead. I know it’s sacrilege, but I just didn’t love it. I played once through and it was cool, but it just wasn’t for me.

      As far as the zombies, I thought they were fine and generally well done. It was a new approach and it worked, which is more than I can say for most zombie games. I think the witch was the coolest, since it adds a whole new element. It’s the zombie you might want to just avoid instead of kill. How cool!

      I think the smart money is on giving the franchise a break for a year or two though, until this all dies down. Support it with DLC of course, but we don’t need to see a Left 4 Dead 3 anytime soon.