With over 72 million monthly visitors across over 320,000 wikis (and counting!), Wikia is a hotbed of passionate expertise on an incredibly diverse range of topics. With such a plethora of information to sift through, breaking into a new franchise or genre can seem a tad overwhelming. To help break the ice, we're going to be asking experts from various communities to tell us what it is about their area of expertise they find so captivating -- and the steps they recommend beginners take to set themselves on the path to geekery.

We're calling the series "Guided Tour," and our first topic is Zombies.

History of Final Fantasy

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Basic zombies -- undead, re-animated creatures -- have been around for a long while, the earliest iterations harkening as far back as Norse Mythology and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Many even see voodoo as a natural step in the evolution of the idea of the zombie, and one of the first places where the specific term "zombie" was used. That said, the modern zombie -- the version we're most concerned with here -- was conceived by George A. Romero in his 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, where he "bred the zombie with the vampire," achieving "the hybrid vigour of a ghastly plague monster."

Since then, there has been widespread fascination with zombies. Countless stories, across a variety of media (from books, to video games, to films) have been developed in the wake of Romero's "Night of the Living Dead," each one putting its own spin on the undead formula.

Philodox from Zombiepedia, a comprehensive resource about all things zombies, claims "the genre's popularity is partly due the the questions it raises about survival, order and chaos, social constructs, and humanity." The undead, strangely enough, can teach us quite a bit about what it means to be alive.

Expert Opinion

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“The genre’s popularity is partly due to the questions it raises about survival, order of chaos, social constructs, and humanity”

Philodox, quoted above, is an admin over at Zombiepedia where he maintains an impressive variety of interesting articles touching on fictional, non-fictional, and hypothetical aspects of Zombies. Philodex has always been a big fan of monster horror, especially films that succeed in immersing the viewer, like Cloverfield. He started working on the Zombiepedia after reading Max Brooks' World War Z and wanting to help build a portal for fans to discuss concepts that the book touched on. He adopted the then-abandoned, vandalism-riddled domain by applying for the administrator position, and as he says "the rest is history."

Philodox has been captivated by a number of undead-oriented franchises across media, and recommends beginners start out with Romero's Night of the Living Dead, 2004's Dawn of the Dead, the hit television drama The Walking Dead, and the video game Left 4 Dead (lots of "Deads" it seems.) He also thinks The Last of Us, the recently released PS3 title, encapsulates much of the "realistic social horror" that many zombie properties tend to overlook.

He warns that the genre tends to be campy, with lots of over-the-top gore, and that it might not be for everyone. Zombies are definitely a form of entertainment -- they obviously aren't real, but it's "almost an inside joke" to write as if they are. That said, Philodex believes the questions these undead cretins raise about how mankind operates are worth taking seriously, and prove surprisingly applicable to the real world.

Philodox recommends

Wikia resources

Want to read more about zombies? All of our experts provided a number of links to help you dip your toes into their wild, undead world. They also recommend you reach out to them via their message wall, wiki chat, or talk page if you have any questions (or, in the case of an actual zombie apocalypse, need advice on how to keep your brain relatively uneaten). Here's the syllabus:

Got any questions about zombies or a favorite piece of the undead world to recommend? Leave a comment below!
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