I’m currently reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a raw, sad and frightening story of a nameless man and his son fighting to survive in a post-apocalyptic America. Thematically and stylistically, it harks back to the likes of I Am Legend, The Earth Abides and JG Ballard’s disaster novels of the sixties and seventies – the latest entry in a long-running genre that examines the consequences of Armageddon through the eyes of lonely, pitiful survivors.
As I’m reading, I’m doing what I always do when I read a book or watch a movie; I’m imagining it as a game. It sort of feels like it could work – as most apocalyptic narratives do. A futuristic setting, a small group of characters, a weird environment which does not have to closely represent anything in the ‘real’ world, a sense of threatening ‘others’ lurking in the darkness. One part Silent Hill, one part Disaster Report.
But can games cope with such nightmarish finality?
They haven’t so far. Post-apocalyptic titles like STALKER and Fallout take a sort of Mad Max approach to the collapse of civilisation – bands of armed troopers battling it out in scorched deserts. It’s all pretty exciting. What novels like I am Legend and The Road explore, is the loneliness and uncertainty, the haunting nothingness of life without society.
That’s rather controversial, but it’s still an interesting read. Thanks Aargh at NMA.