Can Video Games Prepare Us for the End of the World?

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2012 marks the end of the world according to Hollywood producers and the Mayan calendar. It also makes for an intriguing and eerie backdrop for many games.

Particularly made famous by Fallout 3, the apocalyptic world is a cruel and seductive beast. Citizens are dealing and living in extreme conditions, fighting mutated animals and people, only just on the cusp of survival. But it marks the question: could we really survive the end of the world?

In the Bioshock series, the once beautiful and productive Rapture has turned into a dump. The city is in ruins with its people running amok high on ADAM and murder. Rapture could have been considered the perfect city before its fall. Now, once outstanding citizens are struggling to survive, feasting on the remnants of the dream.

This may be a good example of how society and humanity might succumb to the end of all measures. The pyramid of class rank has fallen, food is in shortages, and the only way to survive is to kill. Despite the non-existence of ADAM, can we really see our vibrant cities fall into an abyss of living in rotting housing and searching for that element of escape?

It does put to mind if a place like Rapture could really exist. It may seem the ADAM-obsessed, killing machines that walk mindlessly around are trying to live normal lives only if you stop and listen carefully to their dialogue. They too are like us…but only just. But the concept of Rapture’s fall is not that far from the truth. Think of war torn Afghanistan or the Congo. Andrew Ryan is the government and the splicers are the soldiers. We aren’t that far from where we thought.

Some video games like Dead Rising, Singularity and Bioshock have prepared us for the fall of humanity, even if it is all for a bit of fun. We are taught on how to act, survive and behave around others. We know what weapons to reach for or what to say to avoid confrontation or make a fight.

Every year we are bombarded by disaster movies from Hollywood whose main objective is to scare us into thinking the end of the world is just around the corner. We shudder in our seats, knowing with sick dread and fear that it could possibly happen, watching the fall of man crumple before our eyers. However with interactive video games, they take a different route, making that element of fear a part of survival: pick up a gun or die.

Even though video games are often rich in sensualization and good ol’ shoot-em-up morals, it can be a bit reassuring knowing if the world did decide to end tomorrow, we would be prepared.

I am writer and gamer at heart. I live in Sydney and work for a gaming retailer.

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