Survival games have been around with us for some time now with certain titles having huge success from situations of castaways to the post-apocalyptic or even zombie survival. With modern obsession for realism and the advancement of gamification, we wondered if survival games were actually teaching you to survive. Players often begin in a randomly unique environment on their own (the wilderness, an island, or viral aftermath). As you venture around the area, you will spend the majority of your time making a shelter, gathering food, water and extra resources to help you survive, and sometimes fighting monsters or other creatures while facing periodic threats.
Advances in gaming have produced survival simulations that force you to learn a vast range of strategies the skills you would need to survive in the game scenarios. Survival-themed games challenge the player with both realistic and fictional scenarios - from simple tasks such as gathering wood and food to a more fictional scenario like surviving a zombie attack or staying alive during the night with a killer coming after you.
Many survival games replicate survival techniques but, of course, you cannot rely on videogames for life-threatening situations. However, there are true-to-life elements in survival games which we may actually be subconsciously absorbing. Here are a few things video games can teach us:
This may seem obvious to you, but would it be obvious 10 years ago to every kid? At the start of a survival game, the character usually spawns in a random environment with nothing but his/her bare hands (or maybe equipped with a knife). To give your character any hope of survival, you must scour your immediate surroundings for useful items while taking utmost care to avoid any potential threats. You go around your environment looking for items like food, water, clothing, basic tools, or anything that will be helpful as you progress. You familiarize yourself with your environment and remember spots where you can re-acquire or store the needed materials. This is the known basic strategies for gamers of any age. It’s now second nature, and is actually the basic thought process for real life survival of course.
In more extreme circumstances, you learn to gather and hide supplies for future trading and bartering. Most gamers will also be very familiar with the ‘Crafting’ element. Gathering parts that you know will come together at a later point to be built into something useful. Sure, we don’t actually think we are all Bear Grylls just because we are great at playing ‘Ark’. The point here is more a case of having a foundation to start with as opposed to none.
Crafting to attain new or improve items
As you continue obtaining supplies, you will be able to craft more items. Some things cannot be found just by scavenging alone. Crafting is an essential skill to have in any survival game. Crafting is needed to be able to make weapons, clothing, armor, traps or any common items that you need to have during the game. Besides crafting new items, you will also be able to modify or upgrade items you already have.
In reality, crafting for survival is essential, and a mindset of ‘basic first, then upgrade’, is also valuable. Developing the ability to craft items also means improving your skill in repairing your possessions. Instead of throwing broken items away, you can either fix them or use part of those items to create something new.
Security is priority
In survival situations danger lurks everywhere. Usually, one of the first main tasks in survival games is to build a shelter. Shelters are important aspects of the game to keep your character safe from potential threats.
In real life, of course, we would not want ourselves exposed to real-life dangers. Having a shelter ensures that humans are less attractive to danger, or exposed to the elements. Both in video games and real life, the fact that we are exposed to threats makes us realize the advantages and importance of being aware of our security.
Survival games also illustrate the importance of being able to rely on yourself. In most survival games, you start the game alone and complete various tasks by yourself. Though it may be fun to have teammates, you cannot be too sure if you could depend on others. As you progress you will learn who you can and cannot trust through cautious trial and error.
You must learn to survive by yourself before you can create or join a faction. Learning to be more self-sufficient means greater confidence.
As said earlier, even if survival games are simulations of how to survive alone in the wilderness, it is not an ideal thought to get lost in the wild to test your survival skills based on video game knowledge alone. Though, if we dissect the game qualities, strategies and mindsets, game developers are able to reflects some true-to-life disciplines we are now or should be aware of. Knowing these basic disciplines of; strategy setting, crafting, self-reliance, prioritizing essentials, gathering resources, are all great baseline mindsets for not just an abstract survival situation but modern life as well. Sure, I have no idea how to trap skin and cook a deer in the wild, but I do know how to start to think and prioritize the first 48 hours of any cast away situation.
Make a basic camp / shelter
Look for sources of water
Construct distress signals
Make traps, or fish if possible, gather plant food.
Explore, map out your area step by step, marking way back to your camp.
You can survive at least 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food.
Some may have been lucky and learned this from camp, or a family member. Most of us learned it from video games.