Why is hardship the new hotness?

I’m always late to the party – even when most of the people at the party are dead. In the case of DayZ, I’m very late indeed. It’s been two years since Dean Hall’s mod started to turn ordinary gamers into hardened survivalists, and in that time, it feels like the game has helped cement a genre – or something that certainly behaves like one. I get hundreds of press releases in my inbox every week, and about two thirds of them promise that the latest title I’m about to fall in love with is just like DayZ – or just like Minecraft. These titles are not unrelated. In 2014, we love foraging and scavenging. We love finding our own tools and getting by on next to nothing. We love hardship. We love suffering. It’s no longer enough to just thrive – we want to feel the sharp edge of survival itself.

Why is this?

That’s a question that’s worth trying to answer, if only because these games feel so vital, and it would be nice to get some of that vitality into the rest of gaming, too. When I first dropped onto a DayZ server, for example, I just waited. I knew something awful was going to happen to me. I wanted something awful to happen to me. I wanted DayZ to kick me around, like it had kicked around all my friends. Sure enough, I didn’t have to wait long.

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  • This Post originally appeared on:
  • Eurogamer.net
  • Bad puns and video games since 1999.
  • Originally dated as:
  • 30 Apr 2014 12:00:00 +0100