My continuing unhealthy interest in GSC Gameworld's apocalyptic FPS from earlier this year reaches a climax over at PC Gamer UK's website, with a three part feature originally published in the magazine. Read the three parts here, here, and here. Or, conveniently, read the first part and then follow the links built into those very pages. Clever, eh?
The feature covers the inspiration of the game and links to The Zone, both in the real world of Chernobyl, and in fiction. I say things like this:
Many people have returned to the zone to live, including some of the former residents who are resigned to the damage the radiation will cause to their health, some criminal elements who use the 'off-grid' nature of the place to hide, and some refugees from wars in nearby Soviet republics.
An even smaller number of people now work here guiding people around the zone. One of these guides, Alexander Naumov, even describes himself as a "stalker". Naumov has said that to guide people around the zone for money is "blasphemous" and he told the Ukrainian writer Yanina Sokolovskaya, "A stalker risks his life, but does a useful job - makes people sense the Zone and understand how it lives."
There might not be a secret at the heart of the zone, or mutants, or bio-suited killers, but The Zone, the real zone, nevertheless has a meaning and poignancy that is as real and as undeniable as anything else on this Earth. It's not hard to see why it inspired the GSC team to their finest work. The Zone, it seems, is a message, a warning, an allegory, as well as a grim reality.
Keen observers might notice that I've said a few similar things elsewhere, but PC gamer's feature says it best. (It was the longest...)