Friday, June 14, 2013

A great idea for a video game feature: Personalize your zombies

Many of us enjoy first-person-shooter games in which you roam some setting and kill wave upon wave of zombies.  Yeah, the zombies eventually win--they are, after all, zombies--but along the way you have great fun slaying them by the dozens.  Though I quite like such games, I have to admit that they are not to everyone's taste.

Today, I realized that there is a way to make almost everyone want to play one of these:  create a game that lets you personalize your zombies.

Imagine it.  All you need is a picture of the face of that co-worker you can't stand, or the irrational boss, or the woman or man who dumped you, the kid who's bullying you--anyone who's pissing you off right now.  Let's be completely honest:  those you care about most are frequently the ones who piss you off the most, so include pictures of their faces, too.  Friends, families, lovers, co-workers, you name it--anyone close to you is a candidate.

Once you have the face shots, you pair them with a set of the usual built-in avatar bodies, customize as you see fit and the software allows, and then you have your potential cast of zombies.

At the start of each game, you can choose the built-in zombies, any casts you've saved, or any new casts.  To create a new cast, you pick any of your uploaded zombie buddies, assign a percentage of the zombies to look like them, a percentage for the game to pick, and start the game.

Bam!  Really pissed at the boss?  Shoot a few thousand of him, and you might feel better.  Just got dumped?  Take him/her out for a few hours, and you'll feel better.

Just mad at everyone?  Throw them all in the mix, and go to town.

Now, let's get to what the critics will say.

That's sick.  Maybe, but it's also fun, and I bet it will sell like crazy.

You're encouraging real-world violence (or the specific subset) You're encouraging violence against (women OR men OR children OR co-workers OR whatever).  No, I'm not.  I'm saying it could be therapeutic fun to shoot zombies with their faces.  Be honest:  How many of us have gotten mad enough to want to punch or kick someone?  Almost everyone.  (Dalai Lama, maybe you haven't; sorry, dude.)  I've never bought the notion, by the way, that video-game violence leads to real-world violence in any general sense.  Do I believe that some folks are sufficiently off-kilter that the wrong thing can throw them into a bad place?  Yes, but video games aren't alone in being able to be that wrong thing.

No one would really enjoy doing this, so it won't sell.  There we must disagree.  What I will concede is that few folks would want to admit they enjoy it, so most people will buy it for the general zombie shooting--and then secretly personalize their zombies.  It will be key to sales, by the way, to have a secret "room" (storage area) in which to store your personalized zombies. 

You're invading the privacy of others by putting their faces online.  Nope.  These rooms full of zombies would be on local storage. 

What happens when you're shooting zombies who look like people you live with and those people walk in the room and discover you doing it?  You'll be in trouble then.  Not at all.  Either they'll confront you, in which case you'll finally have that talk you've been needing to have, or they'll walk away, in which case you'll go back to killing zombies until you feel better. 

You do realize that you will be a zombie for a lot of people at your company--and in your life.  Of course!  I hope they use a particularly bad picture of me.

People are better than that.  If they try this game, they will realize they are hurting real people, people they love, people with families, and they will stop in revulsion and never do it again.  I disagree; I think people will enjoy it.  The good news, though, is that by design I win either way on this one.  If this criticism proves true, I will have created a game that helps people appreciate more the others in their lives.  If this criticism is wrong, I will have created a fun game and a stress reliever.  Either way, I win.

So, what video game publisher wants to hook up with me to make this happen?

Oh, before you ask:  Yeah, it's been that kind of day.


Anonymous said...

Said zombie customizer could mine facebook/g+ for pics, then do facial recognition and mesh/texture projection to apply them to the zombie models.

Michelle said...

I would so buy this game. I already have a mental list of people to plug in. Ahhh...I think it might become a Friday night past time after a long week! Excellent idea!

Mark said...



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