Gaming the Apocalypse

Sun­day night, I dragged a fel­low gamer to see Con­ta­gion. She didn’t want to see it at first, but in the end we both enjoyed the film. Don’t wor­ry: I’m not adding movie reviews to this blog. At least not as such. And I don’t reveal any spoil­ers. I have enough trou­ble keep­ing up with games and mak­ing time to com­pose thoughts (per­son­al­ly reward­ing) and write in unbro­ken Eng­lish (some­times reward­ing).

More com­pelling than the film was the dis­cus­sion that fol­lowed. Instead of talk­ing about the film’s plot, edit­ing, or its some­times incon­sis­tent act­ing, the title of our dis­cus­sion might have been called “What would you do in the apoc­a­lypse?” A favorite and easy game of the imag­i­na­tion, per­haps only out­matched by the more pedes­tri­an fan­ta­sy of sud­den, bound­less wealth.

In the case of Con­ta­gion, the end of the world sce­nario arrived in the form of a dis­ease epi­dem­ic. In the­o­ry, the apoc­a­lypse could come any form. Many imag­ined events cause destruc­tion and human extinc­tion. And our gen­er­a­tion of dis­as­ter movies doesn’t lim­it itself to a hotel or a ship — it’s the whole plan­et suf­fer­ing a comet strike. Nuclear war. Zom­bies. Mad sci­en­tists. Cli­mate change. AliensDrag­ons. Hack­ers.

Hmmm. Do we hate our lives or our world suf­fi­cient­ly enough to joy­ful­ly con­tem­plate its cat­a­stroph­ic demise? Insert a par­ti­san polit­i­cal joke here. Then again, human imag­i­na­tion has focused on the end of the world for a while now…

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice…

Sor­ry for the abuse, Robert. Any­way, our con­ver­sa­tion ram­bled onto a real­iza­tion of just how ill pre­pared for armaged­don we were. Even ignor­ing such the­o­ret­i­cal con­cerns of prepa­ra­tion for an after­life, dis­as­ter readi­ness is pret­ty lack­ing. No sig­nif­i­cant store of food or water. No firearms. No weapon more like­ly than a kitchen knife. No store of med­i­cines. I can say that’s the out­come of liv­ing the lib­er­al, urban lifestyle of San Fran­cis­co, with gro­cery stores and restau­rants on every street cor­ner. But it doesn’t say much about our skill as gamers, does it? I played Gam­ma World, Nuclear War, and Left for Dead! And yet here we keep tak­ing our chances that the world won’t end tomor­row. Seems pret­ty rea­son­able, actu­al­ly.

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