From Castaway, to Lost, to Lord of the Flies, Wilderness Survival has remained a popular and ever present theme in films, television, and literature. The scenario in which one must survive in some sort of foreign jungle environment has almost become a genre in itself, just as much as the Western or War Film. Yet, there's something that has puzzled me about this type of survival, why don't we see it much in videogames? Come to think of it, outside maybe one or two examples, why do we have no survival games? Besides that, what exactly is it about Survival that makes it so great and how can we utilize it in games? Well, let's take a look.
Let's Take a Look: Wilderness Survival
If we want to look at how games can attempt to contribute to Survival genre and find out what makes the genre so great, let's first dissect Survival in other mediums. The cornerstone of Survival normally involves being stranded either alone, or with others, in some variation of wilderness or island. The main character/s must learn to adapt to their environment in order to gather food, create shelter, and in most cases create some sort of method of escape. Great! In order to be considered a "Wilderness Survival" game you must have each and every one of those elements!
In this case, The Sims: Castaway Stories, is the perfect example of a survival game! Look, you're stuck on an island, you need to survive, and you create stuff! Oh yeah, and the game is utterly mediocre and nothing special. While The Sims: Castaway Stories attempts to take the fun of the normal Sims 2 format, and mix it with the "key elements" of the Wilderness Survival genre, it only succeeds in varying degrees. The end result is a mediocre spin-off game that amounts to nothing more than useless shovelware. Enjoyable shovelware, novel shovelware, but shovelware none-the-less. Why?
(This Minecraft logo is actually a helicopter which flies back to civilization.)
After a long blustering attempt to understand Island Survival, what exactly have we learned this week? We've learned to not only look past the obvious to find underlying themes, but to also not entirely ignore surface elements. We've discovered that Eastern and Western Survival games come close to emulating Wilderness Survival stories in form, but differ in their end goals. Perhaps most importantly, we've figured out that creation and freedom gives Wilderness Survival it's unique charm and explains popular culture's fascination with it. What we can take away from this week's exploration is that few genres can explore the power of creation, the power of individualism, and the power of freedom better than raw Survival. Survival, just like everything else, can always be made better by just taking, a closer look.
Addendum- Don't agree with me? Did I miss something? Have more examples? Feel free to share! Growth can only be obtained through criticism and scrutiny! You can also find my weekly blog at My Website
and the Moderately Oversized Hats tumblr
LOOK WHO CAME: