Looking back on history we often say that the culture of medieval Europe revolves around the church. Pretty much all the art and literature was in praise of God and his works. Now how might people in the future look at our culture. They’d probably say that western culture in 21st century begins and ends with zombies. No I’m not kidding, a quick look at games, movies, books, and other art being produced definitely shows a pervasive zombie culture that continues to grow.

Starting with games, cause I like games the most, its pretty easy to come up with some pretty popular games that are based on killing zombies. Most notably Resident Evil, Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, and DeadSpace to name a few, but Wikipedia has a more complete list. As you can see from that list there are very few zombie games in the 80s, and handful in the 90s, than in the 2000s, developers really start to crank out zombie games, especially 2008-2011 which has about half the zombie games on the list.

Even games that aren’t primarily about zombies like Call of Duty with its zombie mode, or Red Dead Redemption with its Undead Nightmare DLC, include zombies in some way. I assume in a few years we can expect game reviewers to criticize any game that doesn’t have a zombie mode. It will simply be a standard feature everyone expects from a game, like multiplayer is expected today.

Since a rising trend of zombies in video games is hardly an argument for a pervasive zombie culture, lets take a look at another popular medium, movies. Again Wikipedia is a useful place, it has a very good list of zombie movies. Unfortunately its alphabetical, chronological would make it easier to demonstrate my point, but if you take a good look at the years, it should become apparent. It lists White Zombie in 1932 as the first zombie movie, so from then to 2000 is almost 70 years.

Now if you look closely at the list its pretty obvious that the number of zombie movies made up to 2000, is approximately equal to those made since. 10 years, and the volume of zombie movies is equivalent to the previous 70 years. Now look at one year in particular, 2011. There are over a dozen zombie movie made just this year, though some have yet to be released. Now I enjoy a zombie movie from time to time, but it seems the volume of zombie movies being made is just excessive.

One more thing, lets look at books. Now this is a list of Novels, so short stories will be left out but it should provide a good measure of how much zombies show up in written works. You’ll see a couple from the 70s and 80s, a few from the 90s, then suddenly in the new millennium zombie novels skyrockets, especially 2007-2011, which is most of the novels on that list. Its clear we can look forward to more and more zombie books in the future. If somehow you’ve gone this far in your life without noticing the zombie culture, you probably will in the next few years.

Now, the question is, is zombie culture bad? I don’t really think its all that bad, if it wasn’t zombies it would probably be something else. As long as there are still some works being made that don’t relate to zombies to give me some variety, I’m okay with it. I think the real question is, how do you feel about zombie culture? Share your thoughts.

Also related is vampire culture. Until recently vampires were more popular than zombies. Although they have their differences, both vampires and zombies are basically undead monsters. I can’t help but think that the popularity of both are related, but I just don’t get why they are so popular. I enjoy vampire and zombie stories from time to time, but they never seemed particularly more enjoyable than any other genre.

Go ahead and leave some comment on zombie culture.

  1. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Okay, really? I see the arguments you make there but I don’t really see how this goes beyond a fad. Yes, fads are more intense now then they were in the past, largely because the internet connects so there’s more of the fan loop. Considering this there were two things that irked me about this post.

    First, the moment I hear about something being the greatest, or the most influential, or a symbol of the 21st century I roll my eyes. For the love of Doctor it’s been a decade. It’s a bit like saying “the culture of the 20th century was clearly dominated by the mighty zeppelins”. Or just look how much has changed in the last decade of the 1900s. Though I do admit that radio and automobile did quite while don’t tell me that something is defining for the 21st century until we at least get close to the 2100 or so.

    Second, prediction through simple extrapolation. People like zombies, a lot of games introduce zombies, so they will put more and more zombies until all we have are games about zombies killing zombies with parts of other zombies in levels made of zombie buildings. Hmm… this could actually make for an amusing setting…

    As for computer games, zombies are useful as enemies, they are an enemy from the deepest depths of the uncanny valley (they are human enough so there is the “thrill of the kill” but inhuman enough so that the morality problems don’t kick in), an enemy who doesn’t plan and mindlessly shambles or runs towards the player (answering the “why did this mook come at you despite the fact he’s just seen twenty of his buddies killed” question), an enemy who is justifiably hard to kill (once we agree to the “there are zombies” bit the fact that it takes half a clip to put the enemy down is no longer an immersion breaker), they have simple motivations that do not need to be developed which is good if you just want to make a “last stand” or “survive at all cost” scenario (it’s no longer us VS them, it’s us VS a force of (un)nature).

    Anyway, it’s a fad, it will pass. Thanks to the internet the feedback from the community is much stronger so everybody is milking it for what it’s worth but they will burn through it eventually. Plus it also gave us such amusing stuff like Plants VS Zombies or Stubbs.

    • maxff says:

      Very well, I may have made a mistake, the greatest symbol of culture at the beginning of the 21st century is the zombie, is that better. Regardless of whether it is temporary, the fact that is pervasive many different media, means it is a part of our culture, a very important one. in the 60s and 70s there was a hippy fad with lots of drug use and sex which eventually gave way to other trends, but those decades are still remembered for that, it was the prevailing culture at the time. So maybe the zombie thing will end sooner than I expect, at the moment we are still living in the culture of the zombie. How do people feel about this? This is what people will see when the look back at our books, movies and games of this time period.

      • maxff says:


        This isn’t very professional, but I wrote an intentionally provocative post, to try and get some more comments.

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        Hmm, can’t reply to the other post, probably the comment pyramid has only 3 steps. Anyway, I didn’t mean to sound too nitpicky, just you said a few things that tend to rub me a very wrong way. And I still say we’ll have to wait and see, there’s been a lot to the middle ages other than the church but this is what we nowadays remember, unless you study the period in depth. Heck, there’s no guarantee people will even remember the 2000s for any particular thing. Urghh, I just can’t let it go, can I? I guess the provocative part worked 😉

        Also, repetition of all the stuff I said about why zombies are appealing to add to computer games.

  2. Curtis says:

    I am going to read some more of your stuff later I’m getting tired and hungry so i cant think of good comments and will just end up rambling like i am now

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