13 biggest things influencing games today

Notable games inspired:
Doom, Halo, StarCraft, Mass Effect

Above: Space marines hate everything

While Alien is about the pace and mood, Aliens is about eviscerating everything that isn’t human with bullets. Killin’ bullets. Widely regarded as an inspiration for just about every game with a Space Marine, Aliens’ influence is felt pretty much throughout gamedom.

StarCraft’s Zerg are almost a dead-ringer for the H.R. Giger-inspired twisted fusion of flesh and sexuality. The ultra-violent Doom thrusts you in the shoes of a bloodthirsty space marine and has you essentially hunt alien beasts, much like the film. Halo’s concept is essentially Space Marine vs bad aliens. And Mass Effect’s APC closely resembles the one carrying Ripley, Bishop and cuddly star-on-the-rise Paul Reiser in the film.

Notable games inspired:
Resident Evil series, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty: World at War

Above: Zombies! Boogety boogety!

At first zombie flicks were considered trashy shlock and ranked pretty low in the zeitgeist of B-movie monsters before they were largely considered a metaphor for impending death, overconsumption, consumerism and much more. In videogames, zombies sit next to Nazis as a villain everyone can agree to be plentiful, evil and must be destroyed at all costs.

Above: The original Resident Evil with the “classic” zombie

Night of the Living Dead is the originator of the “classic” zombie; the slowly advancing, decaying flesh eaters that we’ve seen in popular culture for the last 40 years. The early Resident Evil games latched onto this terror with the “survival horror” concept or you vs. almost unbeatable odds. Low ammo, scarce health items, enclosed spaces, and ghoulish monsters lumbering for your flesh have characterized many a zombie game. Hell, Night’s sequel Dawn of the Dead is pretty much ripped off in Dead Rising (but in concept only).

Above: Left 4 Dead sez: “Holy shit!”

The new wave of running zombies brought more intensity, which is seen in 28 Days Later (not technically zombies) and the Dawn of the Dead remake. You can feel their influence in the new Resident Evils (again not technically zombies) and Left 4 Dead. And no matter the game, even if zoms are just glorified bullet fodder, it’s always satisfying to kill one in the bloodiest way possible.

Notable games inspired:
BioShock, Half-Life 2

Above: We couldn’t find a good picture from Nineteen Eighty-Four, so here’s a screen from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. You’re welcome

George Orwell’s unsettling novel about the role of an oppressive government and its use of surveillance encroaching on individual rights is one of those rare works that is always relevant. And because that’s the case, the novel can always be pilfered for its abundance of themes, be it nationalistic tendencies, sexual repression or even the role of censorship in society.

Above: Stay out of the Combine’s way in Half-Life 2

What is most common in videogames is this role of an oppressive government and in the case of Half-Life 2, a Big Brother-like entity that is built as society's infallible leader. In HL2, Dr. Breen adorns multiple monitors and television sets in the train stations, checkpoints and apartment buildings. His presence is felt as the Combine soldiers force you to mind your own business.

Above: BioShock’s “perfect” society

BioShock’s themes take from Ayn Rand as well as Orwell about the idea of anti-utopian society, but aren’t necessarily connected. Where Orwell depicts a strong, domineering society controlling its citizens through oppression, Bioshock is more about a world collapsing on itself through ideological conflicts. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Bioshock’s Atlas/Fontaine’s uprising is heavily inspired by 1984’s Winston’s rejection of Big Brother… at least until the ending (spoiler!).

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  • Spybreak8 - February 27, 2009 9:43 a.m.

    @ Nevingunner42 Don't give them any ideas, dante's inferno, a ride to hell babies edition! Oo
  • Nevingunner42 - February 27, 2009 1:45 a.m.

    to hell with the babies
  • Japanjack - February 24, 2009 5:09 a.m.

    1984 is what I believe to be the most influential nowadays, with all these dystopian (which my computer doesn't believe to be a word) future games. Not that there is a reoccurring overruling government, but it's not uncommon.
  • bron1417 - February 24, 2009 12:39 a.m.

    nice article. games like doom and dead space scare the mess out of me but they sure are fun to play!
  • MrJameson458 - February 22, 2009 10:10 p.m.

    Baby games? Stupid.
  • The_Tingler - February 21, 2009 11:17 p.m.

    Hmm, I think you downplayed Star Wars' influence there. It's the space battles too. If the sodding Matrix can get in this list Star Wars has to - not just 'lightsabers'.
  • - February 21, 2009 9:09 p.m.

    I love calvin and hobbes! :) and I hate baby games
  • JoeMasturbaby - February 21, 2009 6:28 a.m.

    i think Bioshock was more related to Metropolis than to 1984. thats the only thing on my mind, please agree with me Shane.
  • RaIdEn - February 21, 2009 1:59 a.m.

    can someone please tell me wat the gun in the doom 3 screen is? it looks freakin awesome!
  • MacGyver1138 - February 20, 2009 9:43 p.m.

    In case the previous posters mentioning the muscle-man were serious; he's Photoshopped. There are some huge dudes in the world, but even Ronnie Coleman (8 consecutive Mr. Olympia wins) was never THAT big. Good article, though it is difficult to trace the true inspiration for a particular game, because most of this articles inspirations had other inspirations. For example, I would say that Tolkien was heavily inspired by Greek and Roman mythology. Also, I agree with zymn, Calvin and Hobbes was great, and that picture brought a smile to my face.
  • Theonik - February 20, 2009 9:36 p.m.

    @Cfw2008 Yes, you're right it was Pointe du Hoc not Omaha beach. God that was my second favourite level in COD2(after Hill 400).
  • noobeater - February 20, 2009 3:55 p.m.

    err...cwf it wasnt just omaha beach on d-day...juno gold sword? not sure by memory but there were 5 beaches 3 british 2 american anyway more to the point...bullets must bounce of that guy hes HUGE! lol recapture: 14 seizure...seizure in block capitals with sots all around lol
  • Phlopsy - February 20, 2009 3:09 p.m.

    Ok buddy, what the hell are "impeccable odds"? Bust out your Webster's. And yes, the ship was the Nostromo, not Nostradamus. And the Alien was not Giger-inspired, it was a Giger design he was contracted to produce. It's not inspired by his work, it IS his work.
  • deathrebellion - February 20, 2009 10:49 a.m.

    Eww... baby games gross
  • zymn - February 20, 2009 4:09 a.m.

    *sigh* Calvin and Hobbes. good memories. :)
  • Spybreak8 - February 20, 2009 4:02 a.m.

    Yea Zombies are obvious but damn I didn't even think about the Aliens APC with Mass Effect. That thing in the movies is awesome but then when you put on some rocket boosters you've got a ride. ^^
  • smallberry - February 20, 2009 3:31 a.m.

    Ah Calvin and Hobbes. That picture just made my morning.
  • gutlessVADER - February 20, 2009 2:02 a.m.

    lolol sweet article
  • Justman - February 20, 2009 1:34 a.m.

    Alien definitely set the standard for horror movies, whether it be in space or not. Alot of the lighting in Dead Space reminded me of the last 30 minutes of Alien. Also, not to get too picky, but I think the ship in Alien is called the Nostromo. Nice article.
  • jamminontha1n2 - February 19, 2009 11:19 p.m.

    Shane Patterson is dropping knowledge bombs on everyone with that entry on the monomyth. Great Article