This story is over 5 years old.


How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

With the release of 'Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare', we get advice from Sweden's most prominent zombie survivalist expert, Herman Geijer, on how to survive zombie attacks.

Paid Partner Content – this content was paid for by Activision and was created in collaboration with VICE creative services, independently from the VICE editorial staff

The living dead is favoured in books, movies and video games and has even inspired some people to engage politically on their behalf. Video game publisher Activision has made zombie game-play an integral part of their first-person shooter Call of Duty. First introduced back in 2008, with Call of Duty: World at War, Zombies mode allows players to finally lay the undead to rest. The feature has been included in every release of the Call of Duty: Black Ops series since.


In the latest game, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, players are introduced to Zombies in Spaceland, which has an immersive storyline featuring a fresh take on the Zombies mode – while staying true to the core mechanics. The cooperative multiplayer campaign delivers more than a few humorous and horrendous surprises.

But what is it that makes the concept of contagious, flesh-eating corpses so compelling? To find out, we reached out to Herman Geijer. He's a Swedish zombie survivalist expert and lecturer who's written a book on the subject of catastrophe preparedness from a zombie apocalypse perspective.

Herman Geijer.

What's with zombie scenarios that make them so popular?
I think they mirror actual fears that are prevalent in society today. Zombies become representations of real life threats that could disrupt our existence. We live in a system where change seems more likely to happen by force of a catastrophe than anything else. The dream of the post-apocalyptic life can be a longing for something simpler, where one can blossom and become the person one wants to be: that good, moral human being.

Is there something you can learn from zombie games that can be useful in a real catastrophe?
I don't play video games, so I don't have a good answer to that. I've understood that there are online games where it's good to team up with others, but other players might just as well shoot and kill you.


Teamwork is essential in Zombies in Spaceland. Do you think people would be inclined to cooperate in case of a zombie catastrophe?
Studies of catastrophes show that we're prone to cooperate. During such a scenario it becomes very clear that we're social beings who function best together with others. There's this myth that people become egocentric and inconsiderate of others as soon as the electrical power is cut off, but the scientific support for that is very weak. There are of course examples of that happening, but those are exceptions to the rule. Murdering, plundering, or looting doesn't define human behaviour during catastrophes. The essence of being human is to do things with, not against, other humans, that's how we have evolved as a species.

The focus of zombie games is usually to kill zombies. Is that something that people would prioritise if there was a break out of zombieism?
People would probably keep away from the zombies. If you die in a video game you can always start over. I think you'd be more careful with your own life and would, therefore, focus on staying away, with the exception of situations when you have to clear out a building or an area where you plan to stay. I'd say that it's a risk one shouldn't take unnecessarily.

You've previously said that shotguns and chainsaws aren't effective weapons for slaughtering zombies. What tools are more suitable?
A crowbar would be my first choice. It doesn't give you that false sensation of security that a gun does, and it won't make you try to play cool. You don't want to depend on a weapon that can jam or run out of ammunition, which is also noisy and attracts zombies. Something that won't break is a better option.

How smart are zombies? They always seem to jump out from dark corners and execute coordinated attacks.
In some movies, books and comics, zombies are smart or develop consciousness. The humans then lose their strategical edge – our brain is our main advantage against the zombies. In contemporary works, the zombies display group behaviour. They gather and wander in a random direction.

Have we reached Peak Zombie yet?
I have been waiting for that. I believed a few times that we passed it, and thought that it was outdated. But then a new game, movie, or book comes around and the zombie is back in fashion. It's hard to kill.

In the 1990s, the zombie was completely dead, and the vampire was the monster everyone was talking about. Since the 2000s however, the zombie has come alive and grown. I think it has left its subculture status and become part of the mainstream, and stayed. I can't see an end to it.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is out now. For more information, check out