Break out your Nerf guns, grab your bandanas, and stock that mini-fridge. On Oct. 4, University students will find a new excuse to never leave their dorms: zombies. Next week marks the transformation of Foss into a battlefield and the mobilization of the student body as the annual campus-wide game of Zombies Versus Humans begins.
A tradition on college campuses across the nation, Zombies Versus Humans functions as a massive game of tag where students play as either human survivors or the brain-eating undead. “Zombified” players chase down their still human classmates in hopes of tagging them. If they are successful, the tagged humans become Zombies themselves. Armed with socks, marshmallows, and an assortment of Nerf guns, human players avoid open spaces, sprint to class, or hunker down in safe zones in hopes of surviving the zombie apocalypse and achieving somewhat dubious campus glory.
Originating at Goucher College in the fall of 2005, Zombies Versus Humans has been a University staple since it first hit campus in December 2006. Since then, the game has taken on several unique dimensions, adapting to the nuances and intricacies of campus, and has entered into school legend.
“Zombies Versus Humans was easily the coolest thing I did my freshman year,” said Sam Barth ’13, this year’s organizer. “Its such an awesome campus event in the way it takes a regular day on campus and makes it that much more exciting. You’re walking around, going about your business, but you’re a little panicked and always thinking on your toes. It breaks up the daily routine in such a fun way.”
Barth decided to tackle this year’s organization and started advertising on the Internet a couple of weeks ago, using posters, Facebook, and Wesleying to attract and collect players.
“I talked to Frazer [Goldberg ’11] who ran it last year, to see what he did, how it worked, what went well and what didn’t,” Barth said. “He wasn’t interested in leading it again, and I loved it so much, I figured it was definitely worth the effort to make it happen. Two weeks before it started, I spammed the Internet and put up as many posters as possible; anything to get the word out.”
In the first few days, Zombies Versus Humans takes on a particularly communal feel, with all players but two starting as humans. The two initial zombies slowly bolster their ranks by turning more and more human players into zombies as the game progresses, until the groups lock horns. If a zombie does not tag a human in 48 hours it starves, and cannot tag others for the remainder of the game. Ultimately, players are divided between the truly diehard survivors who are in it to win it, and those that inevitably become zombies.
“Last year’s game lasted about two weeks, starting with about 250 players,” said Mark Popinchalk ’13, one of last year’s winning survivors. “In the beginning no one was organized, it was just pure chaos. But, by the second week the zombies got organized and started working together to track down the remaining humans, so the survivors were forced to do the same. If you made it through the weekend, the game entirely evolved.”
Such organization has become pivotal to the game’s nature. Prior years saw the formation of such groups as the “BrainTrust” of surviving humans, and the “BrainLust” of their zombie rivals, who utilized the Zombie Versus Human roster, school directories, and Facebook to determine and post the names and dorms of survivors. Only through planning, cunning, and sheer instinct were the dedicated survivors able to escape and outwit their organized, zombified classmates.
“I remember last year, a bunch of other zombies and I tracked down Jacob Roberts [’11] who was one of the last remaining humans,” Goldberg said. “I had taken my bike for the extra mobility I needed to find and ambush him. Even then, he was able to fend a few of us off before he grabbed my bike-– the bike I rode there on– and sped off. He eventually won, not surprisingly.”
Barth is planning to recreate the communal chaos in this year’s incarnation of Zombies Versus Humans. As of Thursday night, the “Wesleyan Zombies vs. Humans 2010” Facebook group had nearly 300 members, with more expected to sign up over the weekend.
“The more people who take part and get really in to it, the better,” Goldberg said. “It makes it so much more exciting for everyone else.”
Interested or potential players are encouraged to join the Facebook group or e-mail email@example.com, in order to register for the game. Once registered, players start as humans and wear bandanas on their arms in order to differentiate themselves from zombies (who wear them on their heads), and non-playing students. From there on out, students are on their own against the ever-growing zombie team.
“Be sure to have a designated entrance and exit from each building, different ones ideally,” Popinchalk said. “Prepare to get organized with your fellow humans or zombies if you want make it. Oh yeah, and always carry extra socks.”
Yet, such dedication, while encouraged, is never necessary. Even diehards can attest, Zombies Versus Humans is less about survival and more about good times and breaking the daily routine.
“I doubt I’ll make it through the first week,” Barth said. “But it’s going to be awesome.”