There’s been a fair amount of commentary on the idea of “zombies” in OZombie. The title is pretty in-your-face about the whole “zombie” thing, but as I’ve detailed on the Kickstarter page, in recent updates and in interviews, these are not your typical, shamble of the mill, brain-eating zombies. In this instance we’re applying one of the alternate definitions of the word:
zomâ€¢bie [zom-bee] noun
1. the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.
2. a person whose behavior or responses are wooden, listless, or seemingly rote; an automaton.
3. a tall drink made typically with several kinds of rum, citrus juice, and often apricot liqueur.
4. Canadian Slang. an army conscript assigned to home defense during World War II.
Yes, that’s right. OZombie actually casts Dorothy as an army conscript assigned to Canadian home defense during WWII. You got me. This is the game I’ve ALWAYS wanted to make. She’s drank too many zombies and lost her marbles – resulting in a psychedelic journey to an imagined world of Oz. We were going to call it “OZ-CanadianArmyConscript,” but it just didn’t have the right ring.
Seriously, the definition we’re going for here is #2 – an automaton. Specifically, of the type found throughout our modern society. The person who goes about their daily lives oblivious to the political and financial forces that shape and determine the quality and content of life. “The Matrix” offered beautiful commentary on this concept – of an entire race plugged into a simulation of life, and of a certain number of people who would prefer the illusion to the reality. These are the kinds of zombies we’re talking about.
I know the name is causing some confusion, but to be honest, I think that confusion only serves to prove the point. You’re reading this because you know the truth, because you know there’s another layer to the story. The knee-jerk reactions from readers in the comment sections on Eurogamer or Kotaku shows they haven’t bothered to go beyond the headline. They jump to a lazy conclusion and deprive themselves from a deeper, more meaningful understanding. You can’t force understanding and I don’t think it’s my responsibility to force a more “descriptive” title on the game for the sake of those zombies.
Beyond the metaphorical, there’s the literal usefulness of the name “OZombie.” It creates a clear and defend-able name space for the game, was available as a domain name and it’s instantly recognizable and it’s easy to remember. Even the current controversy around the name is useful because it’s forcing people to talk about the project.
A zombie by any other name would smell as rotten.