Students with armbands sprint across campus, pursued by groups of students wearing colorful bandannas on their heads. Marshmallows and socks fly through the air.
This is not a regular occurrence at Wesleyan, but this past week students across campus looked on as students attacked, tagged and ambushed each other.
About 250 students are involved in the game, known simply as Zombies vs. Humans, donning bandannas that distinguished which team they were on. Though activity on campus seems to have subsided, the game, which began last Wednesday at 8 a.m., is still going on.
Zombies vs. Humans was first played at Goucher College in Maryland and has been played on many other college campuses, including Cornell and Vassar.
The game came to Wesleyan when Alissa Greenberg ’08 posted a message about the game on the Wesleying blog. Nick Marshall ’10 took the initiative to set up a Facebook group in order to organize the game, adjusting the rules to fit Wesleyan’s campus.
“I thought that it sounded like an awesome idea, so I made a Facebook group and e-mailed the Wesleying people to let them know that the game actually might happen,” Marshall said. “Within about a week or two of the announcement, we had more than a hundred people in the Facebook group.”
The game gained popularity so quickly that a reporter from the Hartford Courant was on campus last week to cover the game.
At the beginning of the game, all but two students started out as humans, wearing bandannas on their right arms to indicate their participation in the game. Two students were designated to start off as zombies, who would tag the humans to turn them into zombies. To defend themselves, humans could stun zombies for 15 minutes by hitting them with socks, marshmallows, or Nerf gun darts.
The game ends when all humans turn into zombies, or when all of the zombies starve. Zombies starve when they do not kill a human in a 48-hour period.
Within a few days, there were more zombies than humans. As of press time, there were only 24 humans left, with 110 zombies and 121 dead.
According to Xue Sun ’08, who has helped Marshall maintain the Facebook group, an alliance of humans called “The Braintrust” has emerged, proving to be almost indestructible. A rival group composed of zombies entitled “The Brainlust” has emerged, complete with a Facebook group with a list of the names and residences of the remaining humans.
Many participants felt that the game made the campus feel like more of a community.
“It was really exciting to pass random people around campus and have some common ambition: either to kill humans or avoid zombies,” Sun said. “I definitely walked up to some random people and asked them for marshmallows, or if there were zombies ahead.”
Adam Schlesinger ’10 who has been touted as a quite deadly zombie, agreed with Sun.
“Playing the game made it easier to go up to people and introduce yourself,” he said. “Everyone was friendly.”
Schlesinger also said that the game changed his perspective of the campus.
“People who passed by were not just students anymore,” he said. “They were potential zombies or humans.”
This possibility of attack at any time provided an adrenaline rush for some students.
“I really enjoyed the jumpiness of being a human and thinking that there was a zombie around each corner,” Marshall said.
Schlesinger, who killed more than 20 humans, the most of any zombie in the game, revealed a tactic that he found particularly successful.
“Sometimes it was good to throw your coat at a person to distract them, and then attack them from behind,” he explained.
On the Wesleying blog, students posted helpful hints for humans. Advice ranged from the finer details of marshmallow throwing to warning humans against exiting MoCon alone.
“Mini-marshmallows have more spread and less range … regular marshmallows have more range and less spread,” Sun posted on the blog. “Always throw more than one at a time, and keep them in your palms as you walk.”
Despite the advice, the population of humans is dwindling, as zombies have taken extreme measures to tag humans.
“One of the most fun things was watching a kid jump off the roof of MoCon to tag a guy,” Schlesinger said.
This campus-wide game has been so popular that students are discussing another game in the future.
“There’s been a lot of talk about what things we’ll do differently next time,” Sun said. “I’m almost positive you’ll see a different reincarnation of the game come spring semester.”