Humans vs. Zombies, Spring 2014: Zombies For the Win

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During the week of March 31-April 6, the traditional game of Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ) took place. During the game, there are approximately 100 players, a combination of students and faculty. Zombies wore bright orange bandanas around their heads, and humans wore bright orange bandanas around their arms (moderators wore green bandanas).

Ordinarily, the plot of the game is that a zombie “virus” has broken out, and the humans must work in teams to complete missions. If they are successful, they win the game. However, this semester’s game had a plot that built onto the plot of last semester’s game. This game took place in a post-outbreak world, so the world has already been overrun by zombies. Junior Erik Fisher said, “We purposefully kept this one light on the mission aspects – we have plenty of that in the minigames. Instead, we made the focus on individual survival, while emphasizing zombie teamwork.  We wanted to avoid scenarios where ‘turtles’ (conservative players who remain in safe zones) were the only players to make it to the final mission.”

Sophomore Hannah Dickmyer said that the missions were different in that humans had to retrieve caches of food, water, and weapons. When getting food and water, humans got a free walk to and/or from the Great Room, and when they retrieved weapons, they received pool noodles to be used in addition to sock weapons and Nerf guns. It was a very simple plot: Humans needed to survive by getting food, water, and weapons, and zombies needed to hunt and kill the humans by banding together.

Fisher said, “Considering its associations with hiding, sneaking, and the general avoidance of human interaction, HvZ is a surprisingly social game. The pack mentality of the zombie horde turns even the most unexpected allies into a well-oiled team. While new friendships are forged on the field of battle, old friendships are further enforced. After all, you don’t know someone – really know someone – until you’ve eaten their brain.”

In addition to the food/water/weapons cache missions, there were also impromptu missions. Sophomore Orion Hartmann said, “One [impromptu mission] was to stun a special shadow lurker zombie at night, who ran around with a red blinking light at 11pm. That was great. Almost 30 zombies showed up and we had a black with a mini-truce to fight some humans for gun. The next day there was a follow up mission to stun that particular zombie. They succeeded near 8pm, so another mission went out to stun the shadow lurker’s mom. We had about 16 zombies for that and 18 humans, and that was also a great skirmish. It was great to see so many people show up so late at night to have fun, and I loved zombies working together because they often have not in the past.”

“Bounties” on certain humans were also incorporated into the game. These humans, according to Fisher, “were veterans, seniors, high-profile players, professors, or those had had spectacular escapes or zombie-fighting escapades. These bounties offered prizes that helped large amounts of zombies at the same time, incentivizing teamwork.”

The last mission, that caused the humans to lose, was a mission in which the humans had to activate nodes (moderators), and that took place on the last day of the game. Dickmyer said, “There were three nodes, and the humans successfully activated two. If the humans had activated all three nodes, they would have been able to kill zombies (the zombies would not have been able to regenerate), instead of just stunning them.” However, the zombies could not be killed as a result of the humans’ failure, so they won the game.

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