DayZ is a multiplayer zombie survival sim which, though buggy and incomplete, produces anecdotes of drama, desperation and clown mask-wearing weirdos. Emily Richardson has been playing it with a question: can you be a good person in the videogame post-apocalypse? Read part one here.
I've started a new life in DayZ and I'm determined that this one isn't going to kill anyone. I've already lost all my friends, but I've got a lot of food and water from the town of Polana. It's time to head back to the coast, meet up with some allies and begin my work as a good Samaritan of Chernarus.
This is my third life. In the second, I spawned in Kamiwobo and decided to sit by the water pump until my friends caught up with me. As I was sitting in a little hedge reading Twitter, a voice asked, “What are you doing?” I look back at my primary monitor and there's a guy in a green t-shirt and bright red crash helmet looking at me. I look back at him.
“Are you alright?” he asks.
“Yes, I'm just reading Twitter.”
“Oh, right.” He sounds perplexed. “Are you going somewhere now?”
“No, I'm waiting for my friends to meet me here.”
He tells me he's waiting for his friends too, and then starts playing Let's Get Ready To Rumble at me over proximity chat. We move over to the road so we can do the wiggle and dance a bit. His name is Charlie, and he sings all kinds of songs to me until my friends appear on the horizon.
“Are those your mates?” he asks.
“Yup! You should sing to them too,” I tell him. “They'd like it.”
I turn around to wiggle at them and YOU ARE DEAD. Charlie decapitated me with an axe.
In this third life, though, I did much better. I made my first venture to an airfield and immediately ran away again when my comrade got shot in the back and died. I survived for a good day and a bit and let two random players pass by me without them even knowing I was there. Part of me always wonders if I should have shot them for saline and loot, but when I see that fluorescent little backpack wiggling across the horizon I just don't have it in me. Besides, how many times have I survived an encounter I didn't know existed?
I decide to meet up with a pacifist ally called Edward George Terry Fenning. He's a pacifist ally because he's new and does whatever I say, and I make a point of calling him Edward George Terry Fenning at every opportunity. Apart from when I forget who he is and call him Will.
We team up and head back to Elektro to see if we can't get him a gun from the fire station. Along the way we're joined by my friend Sean, who, upon arriving in Elektro, immediately falls off the topmost roof of the hospital and kills himself, landing on the roof just below.
Edward George Terry Fenning and I find his body and begin to load Edward George Terry Fenning up with all his gear, arming him with a rifle and magnum in the process. It's at this point I see a little man running away from a zombie and into the hospital below. I order Edward George Terry Fenning to equip Sean's rifle and aim at the door. I wait at the top of the stairs, knowing he'll have to come up if he wants to escape the zombie who can, at this point in the alpha, walk through walls.
Sure enough he sprints right up to us. I point the gun at his face and tell him to hold still and put his hands up, which he does with no hesitation. However, because of the networking issues, he slides through a wall and pings back, appearing behind me in the doorway leading onto the roof where Sean's body and Edward George Terry Fenning are. I'm stuck behind the guy, basically, and I look like a bloody fool.
With a few gentle shoves in the back, the guy takes a hint and walks out onto the rooftop. I'm concerned he has a concealed weapon, so I begin handcuffing him. I feel a bit guilty and don't want him to panic and bolt off the edge of the roof, so I tell him that it's okay and I'll free him again after I've checked him over.
At this point, the guy begins to exude weirdness. “ARE YOU A GIRL? WHY GIRL PLAYING DAYZ? WHY IS GIRL PLAYING DAYZ HANDCUFFING ME?” I ignore him, getting a sense that he's just one of those creeps and not aggressive. Edward George Terry Fenning keeps his rifle trained on the guy while I check through his gear and do a bad thing – I take a bag of saline out of his backpack. Meanwhile, the guy is still shrieking, “I'M AUSTRIAN, BE GENTLE WITH ME!” and other nonsense. I pull back and aim my rifle at him while Edward George Terry Fenning takes the last of Sean's gear.
“ARE YOU TWO MARRIED IN REAL LIFE???!!” asks the Austrian, with two rifles pointing at him and a dead body on the floor.
“No,” replies Edward, “We're not.”
The Austrian can't seem to get his head around this. I start to take his handcuffs off and tell him to take whatever is left from the body. Then I think and say, “We didn't kill him by the way. We don't do that.”
“SURE YOU DIDN'T, YOU CRAZY MURDERING PSYCHOS!!”
I ask him if he's hungry or thirsty but I know he has food and water in his backpack, and he says he's not sick or injured so there's little else to do. We decide to leave, wishing him a happy new year as we go.
Holding him up and stealing his bag of saline isn't exactly healing and helping him on his way, but it's about the best we could do in this situation.
The next one though, the next one will be perfect.
The Saline Bandit will return... on Monday.