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Humans battle Zombies across USU campus

November 9th, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life

Story & Photos by Mark Vuong

“We need a speech, Jared. Give us a speech. We need something to fire us up,” called a voice from a group of about 20 men and women armed with plastic Nerf guns.

They were clustered outside in the dark on the service road between the Biology and Natural Resources and Natural Resources buildings, wearing bandannas with “Human” spray-painted on them around their foreheads, arms and legs.

“All right, well,” began Jared Honda, the leader of one of four Human units during the last mission that would determine whether the Humans won or lost the Humans vs. Zombies game that spread across the USU campus. “To quote one of my favorite action scenes of all time, The Lazarus Corporation, ‘The zombies—they’re not a threat to us; they’re a threat to everyone. And it’s got to end here.

“‘We’ve lost good people and none of us are coming out without scars,’” he continued. “‘But if we stick to each other, if we maintain our formations, if we remember the scale of what is riding on our shoulders, we can make this. We win or lose it all in the next few minutes. Make me proud. Make yourself proud.’”

The Humans vs. Zombies game ended Friday night at approximately 11:40, with the Humans staving off the Zombie hordes. The Humans survived, team by team, fending off ambushes by Zombies, and navigated a predetermined path from the Quad to the soccer field of Mountain View Towers, where they had to defend themselves for 10 minutes from about 120 attacking Zombies while waiting for an evac chopper.

About 60 of the original 90 Humans who participated in the final mission survived.

“I honestly thought the final mission was going to be a lot more difficult than it was,” said Honda, a senior political science major and self-described military geek. “That was actually easy in the sense of what we had to do, but difficult in that we were split up into groups.”

Honda said his unit was the only one to have briefing meetings before missions and was the only one to create a plan beforehand, which contributed their success.

Humans vs. Zombies, which Honda described as a “glorified game of tag,” began Monday, Nov. 1, with one Zombie roaming around campus.

The game continued through the week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Day and night missions were held almost every day. Humans who were was tagged by a Zombie turned into one of the living dead.

Geoffrey Behrmann was one of a handful of students who volunteered to be the Original Zombie. He said he volunteered because he wanted to get things going and to be a major part of the game.

On the first day, he tagged 12 people. And from there, the number of Zombies virally grew, reaching around 400 by Friday night.

Not much communication occurred among the Zombies, Behrmann said, though there were two spots that the Zombies usually hung around in groups: outside Merrill-Cazier Library and between the TSC and Widtsoe Hall.

Through communications from several people, Honda marked areas with lurking Zombies to avoid using Google Map

Honda’s roommate, who needed to go to the library for a class, is one example of the difficulties student-Humans faced.

“You’re doomed. You’re going to die,” Honda had said.

He dropped off his roommate at the gate near the library and sat in the car, watching. His roommate walked slowly, trying to blend in with other pedestrians, but some Zombies spotted the headband around his leg and gave chase.

The roommate was able to blow past them, only to run into a female Zombie standing in front of the library entrance.

Honda said his roommate held up his Nerf pistol, screamed his head off and chased the Zombie, who was scared and ran away.

Two other Zombies came out of the library and his roommate pointed his pistol at them, with a “crazy-madman look on his face,” he said, and he ran into the library, a safe zone.

“He gets in the first set of doors and he sees that there are, like, five Humans inside, with big weapons, just sitting there watching this whole thing,” Honda recalled. “And he’s like, ‘What the heck? Why didn’t you help me?’”

USU is the not first college campus to stage the Humans vs. Zombies game. It was started by two Goucher College students, Brad Sappington and Chris Weed, in 2005.

Brice Colby, events coordinator for campus housing, brought the game to USU after attending a meeting of the National Association of College and University Residence Halls, where Susquehanna University gave a presentation on the tag game.

“I was like, ‘This is so cool. They actually have zombies and humans with Nerf guns running around campus,’” Colby said.

At USU last week, around 800 students signed up, but only 660 participated, Colby said. After the two-week registration, more students who had heard about the game late came to him, wanting to play, but weren’t able to join.

The first round of USU’s Human-Zombie war was only a week long because that seemed to be the standard, he said, and also to test it out. One campus had 20,000 students playing for the entire semester, he said.

More than 200 campuses across the country play the game, says the HvZ website. Goucher students have brought the game to international schools through Goucher’s mandatory study abroad program. Now students in Denmark, Brazil, Australia, England and Canada play the game.

Colby said he plans to hold another Humans vs. Zombies next semester.

“As far as I know, there’s nothing stopping us from doing it again,” he said. “I still have to talk to my advisor, just to see what she thinks. If she’s all right with it, I’m going to definitely plan for it again.”

Colby said his advisor does have a few concerns about potential injuries—such as the student who tripped and race face-first into a building while fleeing from a Zombie, chipping a tooth. But he believes the concerns can be addressed.

Honda said he thinks more people will play during spring, guessing that as many as 1,200 USU students might participate.

The reason the game is such fun and people are passionate about it is that it allows grown people to play like children, while running and jumping like an adult, Colby says. It’s like an action movie where one can be a hero, he said.

Honda says USU’s first HvZ game was great because it brought the community together.

“I would have never talked to the people who lived on central campus because I live off campus or because I don’t have class with them,” he said. “It brought the spirit of camaraderie and unity.”

To learn more about the game’s history or rules, visit the HvZ website, and click here for details on the USU game.


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  1. One Response to “Humans battle Zombies across USU campus”

  2. By Alstair on Nov 22, 2010

    I’ve never heard of the game before. Do you follow concepts from “The Walking Dead” and “The Zombie Survival Guide”?

    Looks cool.

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