Can Zombies teach us about ethics?

Published on: Author: LorraineM

In week two of the Games for communication project, we played The Walking Dead from Telltale Games. The game is apparently based on the comic book series rather than the TV series of the same name, and presumably why the appearance of the game reflects the comic book aesthetic. I am aware the game has been critically acclaimed and won awards, and although I have seen others play, but I have never actually played it before.

The game somewhat resembles the format of the Choose your own adventure children’s interactive story books from the 1980s and 90s, where the reader makes decisions at different points of the story which influences the options presented to them as the protagonist, thus determining the final outcome.  In The Walking Dead the same thing happened. For anyone unfamiliar with the game, the setting is somewhere in rural America, after a Zombie Apocalypse has occurred. The protagonist in the game is Lee who comes across a young girl Clementine whose parents are absent, and ends up looking after her. We find out at the beginning that Lee is a convicted felon who also used to be a University Professor. These two roles associated with him make the viewer curious as to whether he is a good or bad character and his back story unfolds as the game progresses.


Scene from The Walking Dead


The game offers choices at different stages and you, playing as the protagonist, have to decide what to do. The first important decision is whether to save a child (Duck) or adult (Shawn) from a sudden Zombie attack. Do you decide to choose the child because it is usually considered the moral thing to do? Or should you choose to save the adult for tactical reasons as he can be more useful to you during the course of the game? The decision varied in our group, with more believing that a tactical decision of saving Shawn was the better decision.

We played in pairs and were to take turns. As my partner Gerry had already played the game before, he was happy for me to play. We did communicate throughout, with him offering suggestions at various stages as he was familiar with the game, therefore communication and collaboration took place despite it being a 1 player game! The game itself varied in pace, from points where you could examine the scene and talk to the other characters, to more action sequences where you have to act quickly!

Overall, the notions of morality, ethics and the implications of our decision making were highlighted during the course of playing the game.