College students around the country have gone missing from cafeterias, laundry rooms and dormitory halls. They travel in groups to attend their classes, finding a rare haven in their academic buildings. Zombies linger, surprisingly well hidden for the undead, around public areas waiting to pick off their next victim And next semester, they’re coming to Chapman.
What happens between the groups is best described as an epic match of cross-campus tag in the game of Humans vs. Zombies.
William Dailey, Benjamin Gallardo, Emily Standish and Robert Edward Starr are the four students spearheading the Humans vs. Zombies game at Chapman. Dailey and Standish say they first heard about Humans vs. Zombies while watching the Colbert Report, where Colbert jokingly deemed the game “good clean fun until there’s a real zombie attack,” and they were quick to start a Facebook group to gather together any interested friends.
Gallardo found out about Humans vs. Zombies through the Facebook group that Dailey started, he said.
“Once I got an invite to the group, I dove right into things, doing a lot of research into the game. The whole idea really interested me because of my interest in the zombie genre in general and wanting to get involved in something big on campus outside of my room.”
None of the organizing team has participated in a game before, but they’re all eager to set things in motion and see how it goes.
“This game has the potential to get huge amounts of people in the school who don’t know each other to come together to have just a ton of fun. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy having to sprint for their life just to make it to class without being eaten by a zombie? I thrive on that,” said Gallardo.
Games are typically played with 50 people or more over the course of three to six days. The 50-plus participants are each given an identification number on a 3×5 card and are required to wear some sort of obvious arm band to denote their participation in the game. Of the original participants, one is deemed the Original Zombie and announced to the whole group of participants. The Original Zombie (and all the zombies they create) must feed every 48 hours, or they ‘die’ and are out of the game. They feed simply by tagging a human, who hands over their identification card for the zombie to log on the humansvszombies.org website. Ideally, the zombie logs his or her kill within the hour, and as soon as the kill is registered, the tagged human becomes a zombie and can resume game play as such, according to Sappington’s original rules.
Zombies identify themselves by wearing bandanas around their heads, except for the Original Zombie who only wears the arm band, allowing him or her to feed on unwary humans. The goal of the game is to end up with the most people on a team, humans versus zombies. The zombies win if they convert the majority of the humans to zombies and the humans win if their majority remains ‘alive’ until the end of the allotted time.
The humans aren’t entirely helpless though, they can ‘stun’ a zombie by shooting them with a Nerf gun. Once a zombie is stunned, they cannot participate in the game in any way for a full fifteen minutes, giving the humans a chance to safely escape. Humans can also band together and try to starve the zombies, effectively killing them by ending their game play. Again, the website keeps perfect track of who has been turned into a zombie and which zombies are out of the game because they haven’t made a recent kill.
There are also safe spaces where the humans and zombies can exist together; on most campuses they tend to be all restrooms, libraries, academic buildings, health offices and dorm rooms, “to prevent avoid human/zombie roommate conflicts” in places where normal behavior is generally important.
Many students across the country have had a hard time getting their university to sanction their games because of the use of Nerf guns. There have been many interesting solutions, from balled up socks to marshmallows, but the team of students organizing Chapman’s own Humans vs. Zombies plans to make their case for the allowing of the plastic dart guns.
The game was created by Chris Weed and Brad Sappington in 2005 at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. What began as a way to blow off some academic steam between a small group of 75 friends has since traversed the globe and can be found being played as a team building exercise for businesses, “on military bases and summer camps, and has spread to five continents. Schools now play in Canada, England, Australia, Korea and Brazil – the rules have [even] been translated into Portuguese,” according to the website, www.humansvszombies.org.Weed and Sappington set up the site in order to help students at other campuses start their own games.
The beauty of Humans vs. Zombies is its incredible adaptability. Weed and Sappington’s basic rules can easily be modified to keep the-powers-that-be in their most benevolent mood. Starr anticipates that using Nerf guns would be an issue, even though the team hasn’t approached Chapman Public Safety about them yet, he said. Players will probably test the game out using an alternate stun method, he said. “Administration would first need to see a game played before they can agree to [approving] it,”said Starr.
The group of Chapman students have actively pursued bringing the game to Chapman on many fronts. Starr spoke with Kelli Sattler, Assistant Director of the Student L.E.A.D. Center, about setting up a club, but was told they would have to put it on as an event within a standing organization, such as Associated Students (AS).” Starr then e-mailed Chris Hosch, an AS Senator who serves on the Campus Community Council, who has yet to respond.
, “I think Humans vs. Zombies would bring a different, fun activity to Chapman. If we are interested in diversity this is certainly diverse, it’s a chance for people to get out of their daily routine and be a part of something greater, Human survival from the Zombie Apocalypse,” said Starr.