What Is A Survival Game

Survival Game


Survival games are a genre of video games that immerse players in a hostile environment where they must endure and thrive. The primary objective is to sustain the player’s character by managing resources, crafting tools, and building shelters while facing threats from the environment, wildlife, or other players. This genre has grown immensely in popularity over the past decade, captivating players with its blend of exploration, strategy, and often, a touch of horror. Let’s delve into the defining features, historical evolution, and appeal of survival games.

Survival Game

Defining Features of Survival Games

Survival games stand out due to several core characteristics that set them apart from other genres:

Resource Management

Players must gather resources like food, water, wood, and minerals to survive. Managing these resources efficiently is crucial, as depletion can lead to the character’s death. For example, in games like “Don’t Starve,” players must find and consume food to avoid starvation while keeping warm during harsh winters.

Crafting and Building

Crafting is a vital mechanic in survival games. Players use collected resources to create tools, weapons, and shelter. The crafting system often involves combining various items to produce more complex and useful objects. For instance, in “Minecraft,” players start by crafting basic tools and progress to building elaborate structures and machines.

Environmental Challenges

The game world typically poses various threats, such as extreme weather, dangerous wildlife, or hazardous terrain. Players must adapt to these conditions to survive. In “Subnautica,” players navigate an alien ocean filled with dangerous creatures and must build underwater bases to protect themselves.

Health and Vital Signs

Survival games often feature detailed systems to monitor the character’s health, hunger, thirst, and even mental state. Players must keep these vitals in check to maintain their character’s well-being. Games like “The Long Dark” challenge players to balance their needs while exploring a frozen wilderness.

Permadeath and Consequences

Many survival games implement permadeath, meaning that once a character dies, the player must start over from the beginning. This adds a layer of tension and urgency to every decision. While not all games use permadeath, they often have significant penalties for death, making survival a high-stakes endeavor.

Open-Ended Gameplay

Survival games usually offer a sandbox environment where players set their own goals. While there may be overarching missions or storylines, the core experience revolves around surviving as long as possible. This open-ended nature encourages creativity and exploration.

Historical Evolution of Survival Games

The survival game genre has evolved significantly over the years, drawing inspiration from various sources and technological advancements:

Early Influences

The roots of survival games can be traced back to early text-based adventures and simulation games. Titles like “Rogue” (1980) introduced the concept of managing limited resources and permadeath, laying the groundwork for future survival mechanics.

The Rise of Crafting and Open Worlds

The early 2000s saw the emergence of games like “Minecraft” (2009) and “Terraria” (2011), which popularized the crafting and open-world elements. These games allowed players to explore vast, procedurally generated worlds, gather resources, and build structures, setting the stage for modern survival games.

Expansion and Diversification

As the genre gained popularity, developers began to experiment with different settings and mechanics. Games like “DayZ” (2013) introduced survival in a post-apocalyptic world filled with zombies, while “Rust” (2013) combined survival with player-vs-player (PvP) elements in a harsh wilderness.

Narrative-Driven Survival

In recent years, narrative-driven survival games have become more prevalent. Titles like “The Forest” (2014) and “Subnautica” (2018) offer compelling stories and mysteries for players to uncover while managing their survival needs. These games blend storytelling with survival mechanics, creating a more immersive experience.

Integration with Other Genres

Survival mechanics have increasingly been incorporated into other genres, such as action-adventure and role-playing games. For example, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” (2017) integrates survival elements like cooking and weather resistance into its open-world exploration.

Survival Game

The Appeal of Survival Games

Survival games captivate players for several reasons, offering a unique blend of challenges and rewards:

Sense of Accomplishment

Surviving in a hostile environment and building something from nothing provides a profound sense of achievement. Overcoming the odds and mastering the game’s mechanics fosters a feeling of empowerment and self-sufficiency.

Immersive and Dynamic Worlds

The open-ended nature of survival games allows players to engage with the game world in a meaningful way. Every decision has consequences, and the dynamic environments react to the player’s actions, creating a sense of immersion and realism.

Creative Freedom

The crafting and building systems in survival games offer limitless possibilities for creativity. Players can design and construct unique structures, forge their own tools, and develop strategies to thrive in the game world. This creative freedom appeals to those who enjoy sandbox experiences.

Strategic Depth

Managing resources, planning ahead, and making tactical decisionsare crucial for survival. This strategic depth challenges players to think critically and adapt to changing circumstances, providing a mentally stimulating experience.

Social Interaction and Competition

Many survival games feature multiplayer modes, allowing players to cooperate or compete with others. Building alliances, trading resources, and defending against hostile players add a social dimension to the survival experience. Games like “ARK: Survival Evolved” thrive on these player interactions.

Exploration and Discovery

The vast and often procedurally generated worlds in survival games are ripe for exploration. Players can uncover hidden treasures, encounter unique biomes, and discover secrets that enrich the game’s lore and environment.

Notable Survival Games

Several games have defined and shaped the survival genre, each bringing its unique twist to the concept of survival:


Often credited with popularizing modern survival games, “Minecraft” offers a blocky, procedurally generated world where players can gather resources, build structures, and explore endless possibilities. Its creative mode allows for limitless construction, while survival mode challenges players to manage their health and fend off hostile creatures.

Don’t Starve

“Don’t Starve” combines survival with a distinctive gothic art style and a touch of whimsy. Players must navigate a dark and eerie world, gathering food, crafting tools, and avoiding bizarre creatures. Its challenging gameplay and permadeath mechanic make it a compelling survival experience.


Set in an alien underwater world, “Subnautica” tasks players with exploring the ocean depths, managing their oxygen supply, and building underwater bases. The game’s stunning visuals and mysterious narrative add to its appeal, offering a unique twist on the survival genre.

The Long Dark

“The Long Dark” focuses on survival in a harsh, frozen wilderness. Players must contend with extreme cold, scarce resources, and wildlife while exploring a beautifully rendered Canadian wilderness. Its emphasis on realism and atmospheric storytelling sets it apart from other survival games.

ARK: Survival Evolved

Blending survival with science fiction and prehistoric themes, “ARK: Survival Evolved” lets players tame dinosaurs, build bases, and craft advanced technology. Its multiplayer aspect encourages cooperation and competition, creating a vibrant player-driven ecosystem.


Known for its brutal player-vs-player interactions, “Rust” drops players into a harsh environment where they must scavenge for resources, build shelters, and defend themselves from other players. Its focus on player interaction and base-building makes it a standout in the survival genre.

Survival Game


Survival games provide a unique and captivating gaming experience, combining resource management, crafting, and strategic decision-making in a dynamic and often hostile environment. From their humble beginnings to their current popularity, these games have evolved to offer a wide range of settings and mechanics, appealing to a diverse audience. Whether you’re building a shelter in “Minecraft,” navigating the depths in “Subnautica,” or battling the elements in “The Long Dark,” survival games challenge players to endure