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February 15, 2011 12:25 am

Students Arm Against Undead Tag Apocalypse on Campus

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The weekend of Feb. 5 and 6, over 50 zombies on the St. Mary’s campus starved to death as part of Mission Scorched Earth, when humans stayed indoors to deprive zombies of their food; the Friday before, also known as Z-day, 30 zombies surrounded Goodpaster Hall to attack and kill Professor Leah Eller.

The primary reason that the campus isn’t littered with the dead undead: because all those involved in these vicious attacks are College students and professors, playing a widespread game called Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ).

Humans vs. Zombies pits the "Resistance" (the humans) versus the "Horde" (the zombies). (Photo by Ryan Gugerty)
Humans vs. Zombies pits the "Resistance" (the humans) versus the "Horde" (the zombies). (Photo by Ryan Gugerty)

The rules of the games are as follows: Humans (commonly referred to as the Resistance) must have bandanas around an arm or leg, and can use Nerf guns or socks to fend off the Zombies.

By shooting a Zombie or hitting him or her with a sock, the Zombie will be stunned for 15 minutes, which means that the Zombie cannot “zombify” any Humans for that period.

Zombies (or the Horde) must have a bandana around their head at all times, and can only turn Humans into Zombies by tagging them.

Once a Zombie catches a Human, that Human will become a Zombie player within one hour, during which they are neither Zombie nor Human.

If Zombies don’t catch any Humans, or “feed,” within two days of being turned into a Zombie, or their most recent kill, they “starve” and are out of the game.

Thus the objective of the Zombies is to catch all of the Humans and turn everyone into Zombies, while the Humans’ goal is to outlive the Zombies by starving the Zombies to death.

“I really enjoyed being a human,” said junior and HvZ player Ariel Webster, “but once I turned into a zombie, I kind of gave up except to join the Horde for Z-day.”

The game, which began at midnight on Jan. 31, had 135 original players. Only one person is the Original Zombie (or O.Z.) and other players are not made aware of his or her identity.

This year, first year Mary Claire McCarthy was picked as the Original Zombie, and by Feb. 4, Zombies had taken the majority. However, after “Mission Scorched Earth,” the Zombies took a drastic hit with the deaths of 50 of their teammates.

The game is maintained using HVZSource, a database created by Chris Weed and others that keeps track of many schools’ HvZ games.

It keeps records of Humans alive, and Zombie statistics, including number of kills, time turned, time last fed, and time starved.

Also, a Facebook page keeps track of gossip related to the game, or questions about specific rules and conditions of “zombification” (if a Zombie kill was legal or not).

For HVZSource, each Human is given an ID number.  Once “zombified,” they give that number to the Zombie who killed them, who then reports the ID as a kill on the database that keeps track of the 48-hour time limit for the Zombies.

On campus, there are “safe zones,” where both Humans and Zombies are safe from their respective evils. These zones include academic buildings and residence halls, among other locations, so that the game does not interfere with students’ classes, sleeping time, and club participation.

The game represents one of the few activities on campus that can involve all College members, requires no advanced skills or training, is not intensely physical, and does not involve alcohol.

The game was started at Goucher College, and has been run at St. Mary’s by junior Corey Payne for the past few games.

Incredibly, the game has expanded worldwide, with games across the nation and in countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Namibia.

The two sides have elicited mixed reactions. Junior Lauren Smith said, “I suck at being a zombie. I could not get Carolyn Reiner,” whereas junior Reiner said, “Every year, I say I’m not going to play because the stress kills me. But I can’t stay away.”

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