To my knowledge, the video game industry has never really catered to preppers. Though they do create games that contain survival situations, they are generally steeped in glorified violence. Likewise, their attempts to create games with post-apocalyptic story lines are almost always based in pure fantasy.
If they did create a game that tackled survival situations or the collapse of society in a realistic way, the realism would probably suck all of the fun out of the game. Or at least that’s what you’d think. However, there is one video game that tackles both of those subjects brilliantly, without sacrificing fun or realism. It’s called “This War of Mine,” and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
As that trailer suggests, this is a war game unlike any other, in that you experience war through the eyes of a handful of civilians who aren’t taking part in the combat. They are merely trying to survive the terrible conditions that war creates. For that reason, I’m actually a bit surprised that the prepper community hasn’t latched onto this game, despite the fact that it’s has been out since 2014. This War of Mine captures the gut wrenching experience of survival in ways that don’t compare to most games.
And like I said, it’s fun. However, it’s not fun in the traditional sense. It’s not glorious and epic and bombastic. It’s subdued. You don’t experience fun by vanquishing waves of faceless enemies. You experience the satisfaction of surviving another day.
The game takes place in the fictional war-torn city of Pogoren. The conditions found in this city are inspired by the real world Siege of Sarajevo, which took place between 1992 and 1996. You command three or four civilians with no military experience. Each character has unique skills and attributes such as cooking, scavenging, bartering, strength, and speed.
You’re hunkered down in a dilapidated house, and you’re responsible for building barricades, stoves, workbenches, rain collectors, water filters, weapons, tools, alcohol stills, and traps, and more. You have to keep these folks alive in this house until a cease-fire is signed and the siege is lifted, which occurs at a random point in the game. You’re responsible for keeping them well-fed, well-rested, warm, and protected from looters and thieves.
So what makes this game so realistic? For starters, there is a degree of luck and randomness in the game that makes it unpredictable. Certain resources and events are generated randomly each time you play. You can’t just play through it once and master it. Strategies that will help you survive one play-through might not help you in another, so you’re always flying by the seat of your pants.
Also, you don’t get to save your game whenever you want. The game will only save at the beginning of each day, and you can’t go back to previous days. So if you make a mistake, there are often no do-overs. So say you send one of your characters out to go scavenging for supplies and that character dies, you can’t go back and try again. And when that happens, the remaining characters have to take a larger share of the daily tasks that are needed to keep everyone alive.
Because of these conditions, you can’t fight your way through the game. Unlike most video games, you can’t just go around killing people and taking their supplies. In fact, most combat encounters will kill you. And even if you survive an encounter like that, you’re almost definitely going to have an injury that requires rest and medical supplies to recover from. To survive this game, you have to be smart, stealthy, and diplomatic. Just like the real world, you’re much better off engaging in trade than you are by engaging in combat, which should be treated as a last resort.
And finally, This War of Mine will really challenge your altruism and morality. You will be faced with situations that will give you the opportunity to be charitable, and you don’t really know if you’ll be rewarded or screwed over. There are times in this game when you will run out of supplies, and you’ll be faced with the choice of going hungry and cold, or stealing from your neighbors.
For sure, This War of Mine is a grim and unforgiving game, but that’s what makes it so perfect for preppers. It will definitely put you in the headspace of someone who is just trying to survive.
Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.
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