7+1 Survival Video Games To Play For Training Your Skills

What do video games and survival have in common? The simple answer is: not much.

However, considering the fact that we’re in 2017 A.D. and basically living inside of the (digital) matrix, maybe we should consider that it’s entirely possible for you to play video games, and at the same time, hone your survival skills.

That’s an interesting concept, isn’t it?

I don’t pretend to have a definitive answer to the fundamental issue of whether it will work for you. However, since prepping and survival are now mainstream things, as opposed to let’s say ten years ago, I’ve noticed an interesting trend: survival-based video games are actually becoming popular with the new generation.

I’m not a hard-core gamer (not a gamer at all, to be perfectly honest), but I’ve played my share of video games back in the day and this new idea has made me curious.

Another thing that video games and prepping have in common is that survival has been an intrinsic part of every gamer’s DNA since the days of old-school Atari.

The point of Frogger was to get across the road without dying. Basically, in almost any video game, if you’re still alive at the end, you’ve won. There are a few exceptions to that rule, but survival and video games are almost synonymous.

However, are there lessons to be learned from playing video games? Survival lessons that is?

Well, the short answer is yes, there are things to be learned about survival/prepping even if you’re a pro-gamer who doesn’t get out much from his mother’s basement.

I’m kidding a little bit there, but there are a lot of games which make me remember my first survival book: Robinson Crusoe. Since survival revolves around the holy trinity of food, water, and shelter, Robinson Crusoe can be described as the quintessential survival book, as it makes for a fascinating journey inside the mind of a guy stranded on a remote island.

Survival in such conditions requires exploring, living off the land, scavenging for resources, hunting, fighting the elements, huddling around a fire, and so forth and so on. And if you think about it, all these trials would make for the perfect premise for a (survival) game.

Here are 7+1 games that I’ve picked for you and suggest you should try.


To begin with, I must confess that I firmly believe Minecraft to be the quintessential survival game. Yes, I am aware of the fact there are people in this world who have not (yet) enjoyed this thing of beauty, but that can be remedied easily, especially for preppers and survivalists. The thing is, your only excuse for not playing Minecraft is the fact you did not know it’s a survival game.

Minecraft can be best described as a castaway game which includes all the perks of Robinson Crusoe (the book) and incorporates all the cool elements required from a survival game. Minecraft is the legend of the 21st century, a phenomenon into itself, and before it got famous, it was, first and foremost, the first true-blue survival game.

Playing Minecraft will teach you the importance of building a home/shelter for yourself if stranded in the wild, of gathering resources, and of knowing how to defend yourself (well, against zombies in the game, but that can be extrapolated to anything else less other-worldly). Minecraft was also the first video game that started the modern trend of incorporating survival elements into basically anything.

Video first seen on TeamMojang.

Truth be told, Minecraft can be anything you like, but if you’re a prepper, you’ll definitely enjoy venturing into the wilderness trying to conquer the elements, hiding in the night,  and fighting for survival tooth and nail. In my humble opinion, it remains one of the best games to date in the survival genre.


Another must-try survival video game is Miasmata, a game that will teach you a little bit about homeopathic/traditional medicine.

The thing is, in Miasmata you’ll find yourself alone on an island whose population was affected by a deadly disease/plague, and of course, you’ll have to cure the disease via research. The trick is, the island is bursting with medicinal plants and your job is to find that particular species that will cure the disease.

The atmosphere is very jungle-like and playing Miasmata will make you a wannabe botanist if you’re not already one. Learning holistic medicine is a very important survival skill, at least in my opinion, and Miasmata would make for a great game to play with your kids.

Video first seen on GOG.com.


Rust is another hugely popular survival game. The game is cruel, harsh, and even bullish, but it will teach you a little bit about outdoor survival basics.

The game begins with your spawning into the Rust-World. This is a multiplayer game unlike Minecraft and Miasmata, both of which can also be played in single-player mode.

In the beginning, you have basically zero tools on your person (you’re a naked caveman), besides a rock. The game will teach you the importance of building a shelter and quickly gathering resources in a SHTF scenario (outdoors), along with other survival essentials like, you know, staying alive.

Video first seen on Surge.

Don’t Starve

If you want to learn about the importance of finding food in a survival situation, I must recommend the Don’t Starve video game. I just love it when a game’s title matches its game-play, and Don’t Starve is the perfect example of that philosophy.

The whole experience in Don’t Starve revolves around survival essentials such as finding food/resources for staying alive in the wilderness for as long as possible, but the game also captures one of mankind’s primal terrors, the fear of the dark, which I find to be a quintessential component of a survival video game.

Video first seen on Workard.

The Flame in the Flood

Another cool survival-based video game is The Flame in the Flood, provided you don’t have a problem with being a girl.

The main character in this game is a little girl named Scout who travels/stumbles upon the collapsed society of the United States together with her dog-companion Aesop. They’re trying to stay alive, obviously.

When playing The Flame in the Flood, you’ll learn basic survival skills necessary while traveling mysterious territories, i.e. rafting, gathering resources off the land, fending off wild creatures, how to avoid dying from exposure, and how to seek shelter.

Video first seen on GameSpot.

The Long Dark

If you’re into hunting/tracking/trapping/survival in the wintery wilds and the whole nine yards, in other words, if you’re a survival wilderness freak, you really should check out The Long Dark. While playing this baby, you’ll learn how to keep your calorie intake on the up and up in a wilderness survival scenario.

The game is basically a wilderness simulator in a post-apocalyptic world and it will teach you about the importance of having hunter-gatherer skills, with a focus on the former. Hunting is the name of the game in The Long Dark, together with avoiding being hunted by bigger predators than you.

Video first seen on Eurogamer.

Metal Gear Solid 3

Metal Gear Solid 3 is a good survival game onto itself, as it teaches you how to catch and eat wild animals and how to patch cuts and heal broken bones. For tricks to picking up those skills, it’s almost perfect.

Video first seen on José Mellinas.


Last but not least, let me tell you about DayZ. The early version of the game’s best features were its gritty realism and realistic shooting mechanics as the hero is thrown in a post-apocalyptic world packed with aggressive zombies.

Video seen on Olga Okuneva.

Playing DayZ you’ll understand the importance of gathering basic essentials, including clean water and non-rotten/spoiled food, together with warding off diseases like hepatitis, cholera and dysentery.

There’s a big chance your character will get hurt during the game, but you’ll see that recovering from illnesses and injuries such as a gunshot wound is not that simple; i.e. you’ll have to bandage up the wound if you don’t pass out in the first place and so forth and so on.

These are what I choose, a selection that it’s far from being perfect or complete. Now, it’s your turn. What are your favorite survival games you’d like to share with us?

Feel free to comment in the dedicated section below. And don’t forget: play hard, go pro!


Written by

Chris Black is a born and bred survivalist. He used to work as a contractor for an intelligence service but now he is retired and living off the grid, as humanly possible. An internet addict and a gun enthusiast, a libertarian with a soft spot for the bill of rights and the Constitution, a free market idealist, he doesn't seem very well adjusted for the modern world. You can send Chris a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.

Latest comments
  • Lol, video games will not teach survival. I find the idea somewhat absurd. Buy a book and go out in the field. Or better yet, take a survival course by a reputable instructor. The thought that playing a video game could teach survival is foolhardy.

    • Agreed. Read all you want about, say, boxing, and play all the video games you want, and it doesn’t prepare you to challenge a real boxer in the ring. Experience isn’t just the best teacher to really learn something; it is the ONLY teacher. It’s the difference between being told what a punch in the face is like and really getting a punch in the face.

      • I know most of these video games add fake things to make it more entertaining, but at least they give you an idea of how to survive so you don’t die in the first ten minutes of being stranded.

        • No they dont.

  • How is being told you need to learn how to build a shelter, start a fire, find/purify water, make tools, hunt/fish/trap animals, gather edible and medicinal plants, and learn appropriate first aide by a book any different from being told the same things in a video game? other than the fact that more people are likely to play a video game than find and read a book, I will admit that you get more information from books, but I haven’t found one that can replace experience yet. since knowing what you need to know must happen first, it doesn’t make much difference where you get the list of skills you need to develop, as long as the list is accurate and you actually go through the process of learning the skills… not much use knowing a list of skills you need to develop for survival in the wilderness if you get lost in the wilderness without practicing any of them. also, there is no sense wasting time learning “useless” survival skills, for example, knowing how to trap small game animals is only useful if there are small game animals in the area to be trapped. always remember: “survival”, at it’s core, is just supposed to keep you alive until you’re able to rejoin civilization, and that should be your main goal.

    • Its obvious you dont read much. Books are written by subject matter experts, not 19 year old computer game designer nerds. You can take a book into the field and practice and refer back to the techniques youre trying to learn. Good luck plugging your xbox into a tree. I suppose you play call of duty and consider yourself an expert in close quarters combat and a master shot. Lmfao!!

      • Not at all. I, in fact, agree that books are better than games. But I have 5 friends that won’t even talk survival skills with me, much less buy and read books, but they have played a game called “savage lands”, in which you are dropped on an island and have to gather resources, make tools, etc… so all I’m saying is that at least they have more ideas about what it will take to survive than if they hadn’t played the game. Not everyone is willing to buy a book, read it, and then practice what it says. But lots of people are willing to play a game, and the ideas acquired from the game are something.
        Also, be careful which books you buy, I was considering buying one BUT when I flipped THROUGH it I found that it was mostly useless information about things that happened to the “subject matter expert” of an author and what he did in the situations, but next to nothing on HOW he did it. It’s nice to know that when the author needed to move his fire he made a torch, but since the book didn’t explain how he made the torch, it wasn’t very helpful.
        Also, I’ve spent more money than I care to admit on ebooks promising information on different PRojects that is so simple a child could do it, and that you could do for practically no money at all only to find out that both claims were false.
        So, in short, I agree that experience is what will save you, BOOKS and/or a course taught by a reputable instructor is a good way to start acquiring the knowledge. But some people need a “gateway” into the survival mindset. Games, like “savage lands”, might help draw people in who otherwise wouldn’t have bothered. Games won’t teach you actual skills, but they may give you a list of skills to learn if you are willing to put forth the effort.

        • Also, it was “savage lands” that got me interested in survival to begin with. Now, although I won’t claim that I would survive being lost in the wilderness, I believe that I Would stand a better chance.

          • Umm, because the game got me interested enough to buy the books.

        • Dude, you really need to put down the game controller and spend some time in a bookstore or library. If you dont even know what type of book to buy, you need to re focus your efforts if youre serious about learning survival. There are dozens of great survival books out there. A good place to start is with military field manuals.
          If all your friends want to do is play video games, they are in no way prepared for any kind of survival situation. I dont care what kind of game it is, ideas, are not going to help you in a survival situation. Skills, are whats going to save you. You get skills by doing. Practicing techniques until you get them right. Playing a game does not teach you how to do anything except press buttons.
          If youre serious about learning survival, you dont need your friends. You can go out on your own and learn. Do you or your family camp? Camping is a great way to learn survival techniques in a controlled environment. If playing a game introduces you to the concept of survival thats fine. But if you are to build any skills in fire making, shelter building, water filtering and food procurement, etc, you will need to get out and practice.

  • Yeah bookmaking this wasn’t a risky decision outstanding post! .

  • “Raft” is a great survival video game. You are stranded on a raft, hoping to survive on the water. You can cook fish on a simple grill, or purify water for a drink. Try to survive to the great unknown lurking below you!