Grab your brain (though I doubt that if you believe in the 21st December termination of the world it’s a good idea) your teddy bears, your 6-pack of beer (or sleeping pills, same kind of deal) and your patience, because the end of the world will last…
It will be more something like sad lingering death pangs rather than the paroxysmal Hollywood cataclysm prophesied through internet
shit chat… chitchat.
The 21st here, the 21st there, the 21 everywhere! *Yawn* However if you had to take one game and one book with your post-apocalyptic package, which one would you choose?
Electricity will probably not be something that could be spared, and apocalyptic games are very common but I suggest the game I Am Alive [Download] as a good buy. You will wander through a crumbled city, made of shades of dust and fading light. You will collect remaining supplies, and take care of the last ruins of humanity; dying, ill, vulnerable, complaining survivors…
You will try to hang yourself desperately to the few friendly people you meet, rebuilding laboriously a family and human bonds from nothingness. The hero of “I am alive” is what we all want to be in such circumstances.He has lost everything; he doesn’t dare to look behind him, and stands strong like a reed in the storm. A man defined by his future, and not by his past. His ethics and perception are not distorted, even if he’s always facing very aggressive gang looters, ready to kill him for a food can (well today things are basically the same, just put an “i” prefix on the names of highly coveted property).
Nevertheless, for helping strangers you meet in the dusty city, you must get rid of your own goods, that you can use to facilitate level progression. Will you be selfish, or a generous savior? The choice is yours. Well, it’s only a game, but if violent images can have an impact within our psyche (see my last article), what about an act of sympathy?
And let’s keep the settings. A world devastated by a cataclysm (climate or anything else), a man caught in the middle of that whirl, people desperate for their future. The book by Steven Amsterdam “Things that we didn’t see coming”, released in 2011, could have taken place in the world of “I am alive”.
The end of the world is the kind of things that you want to see coming from afar. At least with binoculars or a YouTube re-broadcast.
The main character had the bad luck (or opportunity?) during his childhood to have a father that believed in the 2000 year apocalypse involving his family in his frenzy. Computer/clock bug right in front of us, captain! *yawn* Maybe there are numbers, like 2000, that activate something primitive “run or fight” syndrome in our brain.
This kind of warm-up aka “apocalyptical training” will draw the main lines of how the hero will deal with a real catastrophe during the rest of the book. If you don’t want to miss a scarp of that story, don’t read the text here below.
The hero of the book will always be calculating his interest, predicting his social position with the other survivors he might meet, keeping his goal in mind: to stand out of the crowd, no need for selfless action, except for people that deal with that “post apocalyptic way of life” the same way he does. Stealing, looting, betraying and using people are part of the deal. The final touch is escaping the consequence of his acts… in corrupted and weak governments; after the catastrophe’s fallout such things are easier.
During post-apocalyptic love stories, birds of feather flock together! The whole book feels really as if you are in the mind of one of those hateful enemies that stand in your way during post-apocalyptic games. The author’s goal is reached when I ask myself how I would act in such a delicate situation.
In Fallout 3, if you got speech [skill 100], you can probably get hostile people to love you by sharing a radioactive beer or some outdated peanut butter filled with real radioactive particles, but it’s not so common. The end of the book includes a moral twist that relativizes the hero point of view, in a disturbing deus ex machina.
Take a look at The Road, both a movie and a book; according to me it’s a bit less original than Amsterdam’s essay to release the seven plagues on an bloodless western world. It feels a bit like watching the collapsing city in the sea of grey clouds of “I am Alive”. The movie is a black and white journey, where every piece of remaining color wavelength irradiates from the hope of the future of humanity. It perfectly echoes with “I Am Alive”.