Darts and Socks: The Humans Won

A few weeks ago, the campus-wide game of Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ) went under way. While two players began as zombies that did not need to reveal their identity for the first 24 hours, all others in the game began as humans, defending themselves by shooting zombies with Nerf guns or stunning them with socks. Humans were changed into zombies by tagging any part of a human.

HvZ began at Goucher College in 2005, and was brought to St. Mary’s College in the spring of 2010. Junior Chris Pasch, on being the moderator of the game, said, “I have spent many hours negotiating with the school, planning the event, advertising, solving disputes, answering questions, micromanaging the HvZ source website to fix bugs and other issues… Nonetheless, when it is all said and done, it is worth every second I have neglected homework to make sure the game runs smoothly.”

Because it is relatively new to the college, kinks are still being worked out in terms of the rules; however, in general and for the time being, they are as follows:

  1. Don’t be a [jerk].
  2. No cars allowed.
  3. No melee weapons.
  4. Automatic and modified blasters are permitted.
  5. Nerf guns MUST look like fake guns (no black, Army green, etc.).
  6. No one is permitted to leave campus for more than 24 hours.
  7. Leave non-players alone.

Other rules outlined the “equipment” necessary to play the game (i.e., Nerf gun, sock weapons, bandanas, ID card, username and password for the website). Safe zones were also outlined, and they included academic buildings (as well as the academic floors of Calvert), the library, the Health Center, Campus Center, Glendening, and the Athletics and Recreation Center – all 24-hour safe zones. There were other rules about safety, including who is safe and when, and other areas, including dorm buildings during quiet hours.

In addition, humans had to wear bandanas around their arms and zombies had to wear bandanas around their heads; the one exception were the Original Zombies (OZs), who did not need to wear bandanas for the first 24 hours of the game.

Senior Don Rees and junior Jonathan Weber were this semester’s OZs. When asked about his strategy for turning humans into zombies, Rees said, “My trick was to just walk around dressed up and get groups at a time. That way no one nearby was alerted by a lot of single kills.”

Opinions of the game are, for the most part, very positive. Rees said, “It’s the best game of tag you can play. Even when you’re tagged, you still have a game to play and everyone has the potential to win.”

Students were not the only participants in this game; faculty members were more than willing to participate. Assistant Professor of Psychology Scott Mirabile said, “I had the honor of giving a talk on the likelihood that humans would survive a zombie apocalypse, so I thought it would be fun to test my mettle, so to speak… I keep a Nerf gun and other toys in my office anyway, and I’ve loved the zombie genre for decades.”

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Leah Eller said, “In the same tradition as intramurals, where faculty members often play on teams with or against students, this modified game of tag is an opportunity for students and faculty to interact in a very innocent and healthy way. It has always been my observation that the students like knowing that the faculty really do like them and choose to interact with them even when they don’t have to.”

This round of HvZ was recently won by eight humans in the final battle. The game is growing with each and every year. Pasch said, “Hopefully it will continue to grow, and remain a tradition for students to let loose and play.”

Zombie Epidemic Creates Shortage of Brains on Campus

Seth Farber, Molly Burtenshaw, Noel Safford, Dan Castle, and Rachel Padding prepare for the zombie apocalypse. As of March 8, Dan Castle is still human. (Photo by Rowan Copley)
Seth Farber, Molly Burtenshaw, Noel Safford, Dan Castle, and Rachel Padding prepare for the zombie apocalypse. As of March 8, Dan Castle is still human. (Photo by Rowan Copley)
We are lurking under the overhang in front of Baltimore Hall, waiting for food. There are eleven of us, hiding and glancing impatiently at each other as we smoke cigarettes. People pass by and see us and point, but we don’t care, because we’re waiting for that special kind of person whom we can eat and turn into one of us. We see one. I sprint after him quietly along the path to the pond, but as I fall in about 10 feet behind him, he turns around swinging two melee weapons in my direction, making it impossible for me to close the distance without being hit. I try, but it’s no use – this one is properly prepared for the zombie apocalypse. I return to my group still hungry.

If this sounds like an odd post-apocalyptic monster story, you’d be half-right. This game has gripped St. Mary’s campus for the past two weeks. It has led to many amusing encounters between the two different sides, including some at Baltimore Hall where groups of zombies wait hungrily for a human to walk by.

My memories of becoming a zombie are a blur. One minute, I came out of a townhouse at Mardi Greens, surrounded by some other humans . The next minute someone I thought was my friend came up to give me a pat on the back and then informed me that he had eaten my brains. Mardi Greens was a veritable feasting ground for the zombie horde, and it was only a matter of time before all but a rare few had become a zombie.

Zombie weapons (Photo by Rowan Copley)
Zombie weapons (Photo by Rowan Copley)

The game is fairly simple. First, those interested in playing join the Facebook group for the College. Everyone starts as a human, and they signify their humanity by wearing a bandanna on their arms or legs. Everyone, that is, except for the Original Zombie (who is notified via Facebook), who then starts infecting people as zombies.

Zombies have to wear bandannas on their heads, and to feed on and infect humans they have to tag them. Humans can defend themselves by shooting a zombie with a nerf gun or hitting them with a sock, which keep zombies from interacting with humans for 15 minutes. If a zombie goes 48 hours without feeding, it is out of the game.

The first few days for most humans were just a slowly building paranoia and an excuse to carry your nerf gun to class. We would see each other on the path, random people who didn’t know each other, and chat about who might or might not be zombies as if we were talking about the weather. But then our survival instinct kicked in when we realized that not everyone was to be trusted. After Mardi Greens, humans were a paranoid minority; soon, most zombies had starved because of a lack of humans to eat. The game may not have had any huge battles between the two sides, but it sure made going to class a new experience.