Ludic Zombies: An Examination of Zombieism in Games

Hans-Joachim Backe, Espen Aarseth

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalConference articleResearchpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number405
JournalProceedings of DiGRA 2013
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventDIGRA 2013: Defraggin Game Studies - Georgia Tech, Atlanta, United States
Duration: 26 Aug 201329 Aug 2013
Conference number: 6


ConferenceDIGRA 2013
LocationGeorgia Tech
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • allegory
  • close playing
  • game analysis
  • zombieism
  • zombies


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