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Even with my busy schedule, I still try to squeeze in some gaming time. My current vice on Nintendo 3DS right now is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked.
It’s actually something of an old game – it was originally released as just Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor in Japan and America back in 2009, but never saw a UK release. Overclocked is a re-release for the 3DS, but due to publishing issues, it took a whole two years between the Japanese release and ours, released on the March 29.
The game details an unlikely disaster scenario – a large section of Tokyo is suddenly cordoned off by the armed forces. The government say it’s due to a poison gas leak, but the thousands trapped inside the danger zone know the truth – it’s an invasion of bloodthirsty demons. Knowing that death is constantly around the corner, they try to survive the lockdown for a week, assuming they don’t find a way of escaping. The game’s tagline says it all: “Peaceful days died. Let’s Survive.”
It’s a story that’s surprisingly easy to relate to. Not so much the demons (although the mythology nerd in me appreciates that), but in the character interaction. The main character is rather plain, but his friends and the other survivors he encounters each have their own concerns and different motivations for trying to escape… or stay.
It got me thinking: if I was in a similar disaster area, would I be able to survive? Lord knows how many fellow nerds made zombie survival plans in light of that now overplayed and overrated horror trope.
Devil Survivor offers little advice, but it definitely discusses the dangers. The electricity going out is one of the biggest threats. We of the Communication Age need electronics more than ever to stay functional. Some people get tetchy when they can’t check Facebook at will – having no internet connection at all would destroy them. Most of the food would spoil, and failed traffic lights would cause more than a few accidents.
Fortunately, a lot of our technology is both portable and rechargeable. You may not have desktop access or a call signal, but there are countless handheld chargers out there, even DIY ones if you fancy yourself handy.
After that comes the rioting. In the game, once the public realise that they’re being lied to about the poison gas leaks, things get tense – and any small argument could escalate into chaos. In real life, riots will break out the moment people realise they can break shop windows without getting caught.
I still remember the riots in 2011 – although not sparked by disaster, it still remains a great example of what people are capable of if given a little temptation and stirred into a frenzy.
In either case, large groups become a problem. The general consensus on surviving riots is simply to remain detached from it. The closer you are to the incident centre (and the more you’re dressed like a rioter, or worse, a person in uniform) the more likely you are to get involved in the fray.
Taking a look at a different work of media for advice – The Walking Dead TV show has seen a lot of success for both being yet another thing with zombies in it, and also being legitimately good (which I admit slightly begrudgingly).
Its narrative focuses more on the relationship dynamics between the survivors more than the, uh, walking dead. It seems that their survival recommendations involve escaping the city entirely, which I doubt I could manage; I’m terrified of the countryside (and nature in general).
They also lack electricity, but have (somewhat intermittent) police radios to communicate. Tension between survivors is often laid on for drama’s sake, but it ‘s clear that becoming a ‘lone wolf’ in the face of danger will most likely be fatal.
In reality, even though we encounter most of our experience with disaster in media, the survival advice they give is sometimes dangerously inaccurate. Some disaster movies are just plain ridiculous. Even with the presence of demons, Devil Survivor feels a lot more plausible than pretty much all of 2012.
So yes, in a disaster scenario, my media knowledge is probably just going to get me killed. Which is a shame – not because I intend to fight zombies or demons any time soon, but because North Korea’s constant threats of nuclear missile strike make me feel I should be collecting tins of food and searching for underground shelters on online estate agent websites.