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This Beloved Zombie Game Almost Didn't Have Zombies

For those not in the know, "Left 4 Dead" is an iconic multiplayer shooter that pits up to four survivors against the hordes of ravenous infected that have all but taken over the world. In the game, which has garnered a massive fanbase, an extremely contagious disease known as the Green Flu is released in Pennsylvania. It quickly spreads throughout the populus, mutating those who catch it and turning them into flesh-craving monsters. Characters in the game are generally careful to use the word "Infected," and this particular brand of flesh eater is faster and more aggressive than the traditional undead shamblers of old, but there's no denying that these creatures are zombies. Valve continued to use the Infected as the primary antagonistic force in "Left 4 Dead 2" and they likely would make another appearance in "Left 4 Dead 3" (if it ever happens). These enemies are emblematic of the series — but there was a time when they almost didn't make it into the game, which would no doubt have changed the series completely.

Chet Faliszek, a former writer at Valve who worked on the original "Left 4 Dead," recently spoke on an episode of the YouTube interview show KIWI TALKZ about the conception of the first "Left 4 Dead" game. Over the course of the interview, Faliszek revealed that Valve co-founder Gabe Newell originally didn't want zombies to be in it at all.

Newell thought zombies were cheesy

Faliszek went into some detail about a fateful exchange he'd had with Newell during the interview. He explained that he and Newell went out to dinner and that Newell had started talking about zombie movies. According to Faliszk, Newell pointed out that "Night of the Living Dead" contained themes concerning racism and that "Dawn of the Dead" had themes about consumerism. He then questioned what the zombies in Faliszek's new game would represent. Falizek replied, "[the game is] about working together. It's the game itself. It's the reflection of the game." Faliszek claimed that Newell continued to push him, stating, "Let's not do zombies. Zombies are just cheesy." 

Faliszek then argued that those aforementioned movies were intended to be seen as camp, but if the creators and the characters in a game take the zombies seriously, then it will play differently to an audience.

The interview branched off towards talking about the game's initial conception and development after that and he didn't mention how his disagreement with Newell concluded, but it's clear that Faliszek eventually got his way. It's possible that Newell's hesitation might have inspired Faliszek to make sure the zombies in "Left 4 Dead" were as realistic and frightening as possible, however.