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Harvey O’Brien, Playing with Dead Things


In 1978, while you were playing Monopoly (or weren’t born yet, I guess), SPI (Simulations Publications Inc.) released a board game tied in to the release of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead designed by John H. Butterfield. It could be played as a team or solitaire, with players controlling Peter, Stephen, Roger, and Fran as they dashed around inside the zombie-infested mall trying first to lock the entrances then clear out the remaining zombies. Or you could be the zombies, an undifferentiated horde with a considerably larger team to control (well, slowly nudge around). The human characters had varying skills based on their capacity to move, shoot, and keep calm. They had to make a panic check (roll a dice) after each shot fired, and if they failed, they would be more vulnerable to nearby zombies. The human goal was to move and shoot and try to work around the slow moving zombies and be prepared for sudden ambushes from unseen ones. The zombie goal is not difficult to guess. Think you have it? Good.

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