In honor of Halloween, I want to talk about the one thing that actually still legitimately scares me. ZOMBIES! I love THE WALKING DEAD, but it always leaves me a bit unsettled because I find myself wondering…what if that actually happened!? My friend, Jared Sanford, wondered the same thing. But instead of trying to block the thought from his mind by watching reruns of THE REAL HOUSEWIVES before going to bed (if I saturate my brain with squabbling of the rich and beautiful, I forget all about being eaten by the zombies), Jared turned his passion for the living dead into a super-cool, online role-playing game called REMAIN CALM.
When I asked him why he created REMAIN CALM, he said, “I’d been playing them (role playing games) for more than 15 years and just felt like it was time I did one. I accumulated all these ideas that I felt like worked, and the timing was right for a zombie apocalypse game. I was inspired by the question, ‘What would I do to survive the apocalypse?’ I think it’s something everyone thinks about sometimes. So we set out to answer that.”
I love a peek behind-the-scenes into the thoughts that drive the creative process, so I asked Jared to share EIGHT ZOMBIE FACTS that were a part of building the game.
- Fact 1: The human race has never had more than 9 billion people on the planet in our entire history. Each time there is a growth spurt in our population, a plague comes through and on average kills between 3-10% of the population. After this, there is typically a large scale war that kills another 3-10%. Last time this happened was during the Spanish Influenza epidemic at the end of WW1.
- Fact 2: There are a few types of neuro-toxins that can simulate death. The most powerful of which is tetrodotoxin which is found in various forms all over the world, mostly notably in the Afro/Haitian culture that spawned the zombie legend and also in Japanese Yakuza roulette eating contests. This toxin is so powerful that if it doesn’t kill you outright, it makes you appear as though you are dead. If you do manage to come out of the coma it induces, you have brain damage with surprising side effects that resemble the legend very closely.
- Fact 3: A native fear of cannibalism in America dates back as far as approximately 4000 BCE. The “Wendigo” legend is one in which a desperate person kills and eats another in an effort to survive, but long after they are restored to good health, they continue to eat the living until they become a hollow shell of a person living entirely off the blood of those they murder. It’s said that the possessing spirit eats the soul of the host and then continues to devour those that the host eats.
- Fact 4: There are really only 3 versions of the zombie: super-natural, predi-natural and natural. Any stereotype you can think of falls into these categories.
- Fact 5: Sociological truth: if the toilet stops flushing, there will be a riot that day. It’s important to keep in storage three days of canned food, seven days of water and more importantly, two weeks of toilet paper. And if you think someone won’t kill you to get your toilet paper, you’ve never been to Benghazi.
- Fact 6: Of more than 500 people who have play-tested STAY CALM, only 3% of those players have ever survived more than one game encounter. Translation: your zombie survival plan sucks (statistically speaking).
- Fact 7: Zombies are the perfect literary monster among the classics (vampires, alien, werewolves & zombies). They are your loved ones, they have no remorse and they never stop. Not only that, they turn everyone you know into flesh eating monsters, and they single you out. They can inhabit every environment and can be set in any time frame.
- Fact 8: If the population of the planet would ever be reduced to under 100,000 people, there is only a 1-2% chance that we could ever repopulate the planet. Why? Because as genes spread out they don’t necessarily become more diverse, instead they follow the principle of the “Red Queen” theory, and they become more dominate. As proof, 1 in 200 people carry Genghis Khan’s DNA, and he was only born 800 years ago. Genes that succeed, dominate and replicate. On the bright side, there is a strong chance that around 3% of the population is capable of being naturally immune to a global pandemic