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Surviving the Game: Exploring the Purpose of Survival Games

Survival games have become increasingly popular in recent years, captivating players with their challenging gameplay and immersive worlds. But what is the point of a survival game? Is it just about staying alive as long as possible, or is there something more to it? In this article, we’ll explore the purpose of survival games, examining what makes them so compelling and why they continue to captivate players worldwide. So, let’s dive in and discover the true meaning of surviving the game.

What are Survival Games?

Definition and Brief History

Survival games are a subgenre of video games that focus on the player’s ability to survive in a hostile environment. These games typically involve a combination of exploration, resource management, and combat, with the ultimate goal of staying alive as long as possible.

The history of survival games can be traced back to the early days of gaming, with titles like “Aztec” (1978) and “Survival Island” (1979) laying the groundwork for the genre. However, it wasn’t until the release of “The Legend of Zelda” (1986) that the survival game genre truly took off. This game combined elements of exploration, combat, and resource management, creating a template that many subsequent survival games would follow.

Today, survival games encompass a wide range of subgenres, from open-world sandbox games like “Don’t Starve” (2013) and “Rust” (2013) to more linear experiences like “The Forest” (2014) and “Stranded Deep” (2014).

Regardless of the specific subgenre, survival games all share a common goal: to test the player’s ability to survive in a harsh and unforgiving environment. Whether it’s scavenging for resources, building shelter, or fending off hostile creatures, survival games challenge players to think strategically and make tough decisions in order to stay alive.

Why Do People Play Survival Games?

Key takeaway: Survival games are a popular subgenre of video games that challenge players to survive in hostile environments through resource management, combat, and exploration. The psychological appeal of survival games includes a sense of mastery, escape from reality, and social interaction. Players develop skills such as resilience, adaptability, self-reliance, and planning through gameplay. However, ethical considerations regarding virtual violence and desensitization must be addressed to ensure responsible gaming. Emerging trends in VR technology and multiplayer collaboration are shaping the future of survival games, influencing game design and fostering player engagement and community building.

Psychological Reasons

Survival games have become increasingly popular in recent years, and there are several psychological reasons why people enjoy playing them. One of the primary motivations for playing survival games is the desire to feel a sense of mastery and achievement. Players often experience a sense of accomplishment when they are able to overcome challenges and obstacles, whether it be building a shelter, finding food, or fending off predators.

Another reason why people play survival games is to escape from reality and relax. In a world that is often stressful and overwhelming, survival games provide a welcome distraction. Players can immerse themselves in a virtual world where they are in control, and where they can take a break from the demands of everyday life.

Additionally, many survival games offer opportunities for social interaction and competition. Players can work together to build shelters and gather resources, or they can compete against each other to see who can survive the longest. This aspect of survival games can be particularly appealing to people who enjoy teamwork and collaboration.

Overall, survival games offer a unique blend of excitement, challenge, and relaxation that appeals to a wide range of players. Whether it’s the desire to feel a sense of mastery, escape from reality, or the opportunity for social interaction, survival games provide a unique and engaging experience that continues to attract new players.

The Appeal of Survival Games: Challenges and Triumphs

Overcoming Obstacles

Resource Management

Survival games often require players to gather and manage resources, such as food, water, and building materials. These resources are crucial for survival, and players must strategize to obtain them. Resource management can be a challenging aspect of survival games, as players must balance the need to conserve resources with the need to use them to progress. This can lead to difficult decisions, such as whether to risk using a valuable resource or to save it for a later time.

Combat and Defense

Combat and defense are often essential components of survival games, as players must protect themselves from dangerous creatures and other players. This can involve crafting weapons and armor, building defenses, and engaging in direct combat. Successful combat and defense require strategy, timing, and quick thinking, making them a significant challenge for players.

Exploration and Navigation

Exploration and navigation are key aspects of survival games, as players must navigate a hostile environment and discover new areas to survive. This can involve traversing dangerous terrain, finding hidden treasures, and uncovering mysteries. Exploration and navigation require a combination of skills, including observation, puzzle-solving, and map-reading. Players must also be aware of their surroundings and be prepared for unexpected challenges, such as sudden weather changes or encounters with dangerous creatures.

Overall, overcoming obstacles is a crucial part of survival games, as it challenges players to use their skills and resources to overcome difficulties and achieve their goals. Whether it’s resource management, combat and defense, or exploration and navigation, survival games provide a wide range of challenges that keep players engaged and motivated to continue playing.

Survival Games and Real-Life Skills

Building Resilience

Survival games are designed to test players’ ability to endure harsh environments and overcome challenges. One of the essential skills that these games help develop is resilience. Resilience refers to the capacity of an individual to adapt to difficult situations, bounce back from adversity, and maintain a positive outlook on life. In the context of survival games, resilience is a crucial skill that can help players overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

Adaptability and Problem-Solving

Survival games require players to adapt to different environments and situations. Players must be able to think critically and come up with creative solutions to overcome obstacles. For example, in the game “Don’t Starve,” players must gather resources, build shelter, and find food to survive. The game requires players to adapt to different weather conditions, terrain, and other environmental factors. By constantly adapting to these challenges, players develop problem-solving skills that can be applied in real-life situations.

Self-Reliance and Independence

Survival games emphasize self-reliance and independence. Players must rely on themselves to gather resources, build shelter, and protect themselves from danger. This sense of self-reliance translates to real-life situations, where individuals must learn to rely on themselves to overcome challenges and achieve their goals. By developing self-reliance skills, players can build confidence and feel empowered to tackle difficult situations.

Planning and Goal-Setting

Survival games require players to set goals and plan their actions accordingly. Players must develop a strategy to gather resources, build shelter, and survive. By setting goals and developing a plan, players learn to prioritize tasks and allocate resources effectively. This skill is transferable to real-life situations, where individuals must set goals and develop a plan to achieve them. Survival games help players develop goal-setting and planning skills that can be applied in various aspects of life.

Ethical Considerations in Survival Games

Virtual Violence and Desensitization

Real-World Implications

Survival games, particularly those that involve violence, have been a subject of debate due to their potential impact on players’ behavior and attitudes. Research has shown that exposure to virtual violence can lead to a desensitization of players to real-world violence. This desensitization can manifest in various ways, including an increased acceptance of aggression and a decreased empathy for victims of violence.

Additionally, studies have suggested that players who engage in violent video games are more likely to engage in aggressive behavior in real life. This can include physical aggression, verbal aggression, and even violent crime. The influence of survival games on players’ behavior raises concerns about the potential for these games to contribute to real-world violence.

Moderating Violence in Games

Given the potential real-world implications of virtual violence, it is essential to consider ways to moderate the level of violence in survival games. One approach is to limit the amount of violence in games, either by reducing the number of violent acts or by providing players with non-violent options for achieving game objectives.

Another approach is to increase the consequences of violent actions in the game, such as making players experience a negative emotional response when they commit acts of violence. This can help players to better understand the impact of their actions and may encourage them to choose non-violent solutions.

Additionally, educating players about the potential impact of violent games on their behavior can help them make informed decisions about the games they choose to play. Providing players with information about the potential risks associated with violent games can empower them to make choices that align with their values and beliefs.

Ultimately, it is important to consider the ethical implications of survival games and to take steps to ensure that these games do not contribute to real-world violence. By moderating the level of violence in games and providing players with information and options, we can help to create a gaming environment that is safe and responsible.

The Future of Survival Games: Innovations and Impact

Emerging Trends

Virtual Reality and Immersion

  • Virtual reality (VR) technology has been rapidly advancing, enabling players to immerse themselves in a fully realistic environment, providing a more engaging and immersive experience.
  • With VR, players can interact with the game world in a more natural way, using hand gestures and movements, allowing for a more intuitive and seamless gameplay experience.
  • VR also offers a new level of social interaction, enabling players to connect with each other in a more meaningful way, fostering a sense of community and cooperation.

Multiplayer and Collaboration

  • Multiplayer games have become increasingly popular, as players can work together to achieve a common goal, creating a sense of teamwork and camaraderie.
  • Collaboration in survival games is crucial, as players must work together to gather resources, build shelter, and fend off enemies, requiring effective communication and coordination.
  • Multiplayer survival games also offer a new level of competition, as players can compete against each other to see who can survive the longest, adding an extra layer of excitement and challenge.

These emerging trends in survival games are shaping the future of the genre, providing new and innovative ways for players to experience the thrill of survival, while also fostering a sense of community and collaboration.

Influence on Gaming Industry and Culture

Game Design and Mechanics

The impact of survival games on the gaming industry and culture is multifaceted. The popularity of these games has influenced the design and mechanics of other games in the market. Developers have taken inspiration from survival games to incorporate survival elements in their titles, resulting in a surge of survival-themed games across various genres. The incorporation of survival mechanics in games has led to increased player engagement and challenges, which has further fueled the growth of the gaming industry.

Player Engagement and Community Building

Survival games have also played a significant role in fostering player engagement and community building. These games often require cooperation and collaboration among players to achieve common goals, leading to the formation of strong social bonds and online communities. Players engage in discussions, share strategies, and provide support to one another, creating a sense of camaraderie and belonging. The sense of community in survival games extends beyond the game itself, with players organizing events, tournaments, and gatherings in real life to strengthen their relationships and share their passion for the genre. The social aspect of survival games has contributed to their success and has inspired developers to create more games that emphasize teamwork and cooperation.


1. What is a survival game?

A survival game is a type of video game that focuses on survival as the primary objective. Players must gather resources, build shelter, and overcome various obstacles to stay alive in a hostile environment. These games often involve exploration, crafting, and base-building mechanics.

2. What is the point of playing a survival game?

The point of playing a survival game is to experience the thrill of survival in a virtual world. Players must use their wits and skills to overcome challenges and obstacles, such as harsh weather conditions, dangerous wildlife, and limited resources. Survival games also provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when players successfully build shelter, hunt for food, and craft tools.

3. What are some popular survival games?

Some popular survival games include Minecraft, Rust, Don’t Starve, and The Forest. These games offer unique survival experiences and have gained a dedicated following among gamers.

4. What are the mechanics of a survival game?

The mechanics of a survival game vary depending on the game, but they typically involve gathering resources, crafting tools and weapons, building shelter, and managing hunger, thirst, and health. Players must also contend with dangerous creatures and environmental hazards that can threaten their survival.

5. What are the benefits of playing survival games?

Playing survival games can provide several benefits, such as improving problem-solving skills, fostering creativity, and increasing the ability to adapt to new situations. Survival games can also promote teamwork and communication in multiplayer settings. Additionally, these games can be a fun and engaging way to pass the time.

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