Leave it to Zombies: Aberford

So anyone who knows me knows I have Opinions about Representation. Representation in anything — games, movies, books, the gamut of communicative arts. So let me tell you about this thing that I just found because YES.

It’s a game called Aberford in development by an outfit called Sketchy Panda Games. Here are their four primary protagonists:

Clockwise, from top left: Peggy Whitman, Betty Smith, Doris Baker, Sylvia Hornberger

Clockwise, from top left: Peggy Whitman, Betty Smith, Sylvia Hornberger, Doris Baker. Oh, and Disney? Note how different their faces are. 

Yeah. That totally got my attention. In a sentence, Aberford follows four women in post-WWII America faced with a zombie apocalypse. There’s a single-player story mode and a multiplayer zombie-smash mode, too. But if you worry that this is being handled poorly, that the characters are cardboard cutouts and the story will be a thin veneer of zombie bashing dressed in June Cleaver’s best, let me point you to this excerpt from their tumblr, which they update quite frequently:

Besides being a game about 50’s housewives and zombies, Aberford is about people finding their voices and testing their true inner strength. So to do that, the story pushes these women to their physical and emotional limits in one brutal, terrible day.

Lots of modern zombie stories skip over the immediate fallout in a hurry to get to the cool “post-apocalyptic” world, but I think the real test of survival comes right at the start. The first time [you] to have to bash in human being’s head to keep it from killing you. The first time you have to leave a loved one’s mangled body behind. The moment you have to accept that this is what you’re doing today and not anything you had planned. These are the little moments where we see who we are, and that’s what Aberford focuses on.

It’s well worth the time to dig through the archive; people ask some really good questions — technical and philosophical — and the folks at Sketchy Panda answer candidly and honestly. From one of my favorite exchanges:

allgreymatters: I appreciate that there’s a woman of color and a larger woman included in the main character designs.

sketchypandagames: We felt you’d appreciate having someone other than Angry White Man or generic woman in a catsuit to play as. We also have a trans woman, a Japanese American woman, a Latina woman, and a teenage girl coming as expansion characters (They play roles in the main story and will be available in the free play mode. We’ll also make playable side campaigns for them if we fund enough. Hopefully I’ll have something I’m willing to show you art-wise soon). [Emphasis mine.]

If you go to their website (not the tumblr), you can drop them your e-mail address so they’ll notify you when their Kickstarter launches. I know I already have.

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