As a part of the release of the zombie survival game State of Decay 2, the Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety at the University of Melbourne has simulated a zombie apocalypse situation and put the results on paper. Unfortunately, the optics aren’t great. While it seems the best way to survive the zombie apocalypse is to get to a place with a low population density, according to the researchers, the best course of action to ensure the survival of the human race is to actively exterminate the ever-growing zombie horde. But even that doesn’t guarantee our place on this earth.
It must be noted that this study is not without its limitations (it’s about zombies, lighten up) and takes into various assumptions that if misjudged could result in a drastically different end-game scenario. Some of these assumptions are that zombie bites transfer the disease, humans can kill zombies, and humans cannot escape their site or travel to other sites, and two ‘speeds’ of zombie were modelled. The research doesn’t consider other modes of disease transfer like airborne pathogens, or intentional infection or sabotage by nefarious groups. All that said, the paper gives some interesting insight into the more “traditional” zombie plague.
“Our best chance of survival would be to contain an outbreak early by overpowering and removing zombies from the streets while they were still few in numbers.” – Prof. Greg Foliente of the Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety.
The results found that the rate of infection depends on where the outbreak originates and on the population density. The models showed that infection would happen more slowly should the virus originate from the outskirts of the city, much more quickly if patient zero is located in the city centre. Being an island nation, the greatest risk of an outbreak in Australia is from seaports and airports, which is where defences should be focused. According to the model, it’s also entirely possible for the human population to eradicate the zombie population but if action isn’t taken immediately, it’s just a matter of time before they completely take over. So, if you see some zombies shuffling down the street, it’s your duty as a living, breathing human to deal with them.
In the course of research, a number of people were surveyed (1000 Aussies, 1000 Kiwis). Some of the results are fairly predictable but some are a little surprising. Obviously, a lack of food and water would become a very real concern for people, especially in Queensland, and it seems that trust is out the window with only 19% of Adelaide residents saying they’d open the door for a stranger – versus 50% for Darwin – so don’t rely on the kindness of others. The general public’s preferred shelter is a hospital and while that initially seems sensible, you should stay away from places where there will be a lot of bite victims. If you need medical assistance in the zombie apocalypse, maybe try a local GP, pharmacy, or a retirement village. Hopefully, there will be fewer people / future zombies and some medical supplies.
The survey also found that nearly one in five would take a cue from The Walking Dead / Fear the Walking Dead and attempt to dress or act like a zombie – that didn’t turn out so well for Bill Murray – and 3% said they would hide under their bed. Again, not advisable. With slow-moving zombies, it’s safe to assume that mobility is key to survival and whimpering under a bed won’t do much good.
The research suggests that infection will spread more slowly in cities with either a high or low population density, and that cities that have a medium population density (like Perth or Auckland) will allow for the efficient spread of the zombie virus. The models also found that, as you would assume, the faster zombies can move the greater the threat of losing our entire population to the undead. Clearly, we’d much rather be facing the zombies from (the original) Dawn of the Dead than the rage-filled sprinting zombies from 28 Days Later.
Here’s a look at some cross-platform multiplayer gameplay from State of Decay 2:
We would have the best chance of survival if the outbreak began in Darwin, with its isolated location restricting its ability to travel easily, coupled with 50 percent of residents claiming they would take arms to defend themselves against the walking dead – the highest in the country.”
– Prof. Greg Foliente
Should you find yourself in a zombie apocalypse-type situation, congrats on being alive! Everyone else is probably dead(ish) and you’re wondering what’s next. It’s time to think about survival, you probably should’ve joined the scouts or learned how to live off the land. If you’re worried about the zombie apocalypse now, think about learning some martial arts and how to use a bow and arrow, gather supplies and skills, and build a bunker. Or stop stressing and live out the zombie apocalypse fantasies through State of Decay 2, available on Windows 10 and Xbox One with cross-platform multiplayer.