“MmmRRRrr UrrRrRRrr!!”[1] Translating Political Anxieties into Zombie in Digital Games.

by Eugen Pfister

The following essay is based on a talk I gave at a conference of the Institute for Cultural Studies and History of Theater at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. It originally appeared in 2020 in this beautiful anthology on the Dark Side of Translation, edited by Federico Italiano. It is released here with the kind permission of the editor and publisher

Translating into Zombie Video Games

The zombie apocalypse in video games has its own perverted beauty. Games like The Last of Us (Naughty Dog, US 2013 / PS3 et al.) , Left4Dead (Valve, US 2008 / Xbox360 et al.) or Dying Light (Techland, PL 2015 / PS4 et al.) immerse us in a mesmerizing dystopia of gigantic collapsed skyscrapers and picturesquely crumbling government buildings. Once-proud cities are now littered with car wrecks and debris, overrun by emergent vegetation glistening golden in the evening sun. With the continuous technological development of increasingly powerful game engines, these dystopian imaginations of our near future become more and more enthralling. The interactive zombie apocalypse has become photorealistic, with an image quality as close to real life as possible. Rendered in high definition, zombies in these games appear on our computer screens as intricately designed walking corpses. Every inch of their crumbling bodies is exposed to us with exhibitory glee. They are covered with purulent and putrescent wounds, showing the human body in the vibrant colours of its different states of decomposition.

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