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Gameful Interactions: The ‘Ludification’ of Zombie Fiction

Death, Culture & Leisure: Playing Dead

ISBN: 978-1-83909-038-7, eISBN: 978-1-83909-037-0

Publication date: 20 August 2020


Cultural perceptions of the zombie have shifted dramatically in the twenty-first century. No longer only associated with anxiety and fear, zombie fiction often appeals to pleasure. One source of pleasure comes from ludification, the process whereby game-like principals and gameful elements shape non-game activities. Increasingly, print fiction borrows from games and uses ludic elements to shape narratives. As such, it has become embedded in convergence culture, a dynamic media ecology where top down processes compete with bottom up processes. This chapter argues that ludified zombie fiction brings this media ecology into sharp relief, revealing ways that gamification and ludification are just as apt to reinforce capitalist processes of commodification and neo-liberal ideologies of power as they are to dismantle them. Through a close reading of three contemporary zombie fictions, this chapter exposes tensions and contradictions in ludification. The dead body of the zombie, the nihilistic landscape of the post-zombie apocalypse and the futility of human endeavour in the face of walking death are all elements of genre that undercut the gamified pursuit of external utility-oriented goals. The chapter explores these knotty ethical and ideological problems, not only considering the zombie apocalypse as a gameful space for rethinking social organisation, but also recognising it as a platform for the promotion of neo-liberal ideologies that perpetuate existing power inequalities through coercive disciplinary regimes.



Buckley, C.G. (2020), "Gameful Interactions: The ‘Ludification’ of Zombie Fiction", Coward-Gibbs, M. (Ed.) Death, Culture & Leisure: Playing Dead (Emerald Studies in Death and Culture), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 139-154.



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Copyright © 2020 Chloé Germaine Buckley