Yesterday I talked about two shows with different rates of success.
BBC3’s I survived a Zombie Apocalypse and Fight of the Living Dead have the same two concepts yet ZA was better in my eyes.
The extra reason I gave over four was that the rules were clear. The Pilot episode declared that each player had two tear strips that if one of them was pulled, the player was dead.
And in the full 10 player series 4 red tear-off bio-hazard symbols (Season 1) and 2 yellow (Season 2) on the players are there for the same reason.
And it may not seem important but it means that they can get very close to the zombies and there is no question of whether they are dead.
Dark Souls is another rules based game where there are no rules surprises. All the surprises come from the moves each new character does. Sure they use enemies with infinite Stamina but they have a series of patterns they follow leaving openings to hit and while they change mid-fight they don’t change randomly.
Look at Chess as well, the rules are so easy to understand, apart from En Passant and Castling, that the players can work around those rules and play a game that has 9 million+ possibilities in the first 3 pairs of moves.
So what happens if you don’t have the rules in place or the rules don’t seem clear cut. BBC3’s show’s rules are opaque, it just seems that there’s an arbitrary reason why they have to die and the world was set up to kill them. It feels like the players had no agency, if someone had to die in that room, someone will.
To give one example with the Abomination, they went back to the ducting to repair a freezer. Then you discover through the Deus Ex Machina that the Abomination is on route and if the Survivor hurries they can escape.
Except with a threat like that the immediate reaction is caution and evasion. Did the player know that they were on the clock or is it just a way of the show deceiving the audience that that player had a chance when they in reality had none?
Gameshows have rules, Big Brother had rules although they could be changed on a whim the players were made aware of them.
The rules for the BBC3 zombie show were not visible, so the audience doesn’t know whether the player was a victim of the zombies or the producer.