Hello once again!

Let me start off by saying that this past week has been wild! Why, you ask? Well, Humans vs. Zombies started last Friday, and ended last night!

Here’s a brief summary: Humans vs. Zombies is a game that is quite popular on some college campuses. Everyone who signs up is given a band, which they usually wear on their arm to mark them as human. At the beginning of the game, an OZ (original zombie) is chosen to be disguised as a human until they make their first tag. When they tag a human player, both must remove their arm bands and place them around their heads. This marks them as zombies. Any humans they tag will become infected, and in turn have to turn their arm band into a head band before continuing the cycle of infection. Humans are usually allowed defend themselves with sock flails (long socks with other socks balled in the toes to weight them), sock grenades (balled up socks), and Nerf guns to stun the zombies (putting them out of play for a designated period of time). Some schools play for sheer survival, while others have detailed plots and missions for the two populations to participate in. Some of these games can last for weeks, though the one at my campus only goes from Friday to Thursday.

Why should you care? Well, you obviously don’t have to, but I have been a dedicated player for six rounds now (we play once a semester at my school), and therefore, I care quite a bit. I care enough to write an entire blog post about it, so I think you should care too. Here are a few notable happenings from my 6th semester playing this epic and thrilling game.

This semester’s game is especially important in my mind. You see, we have had a lot of drama over the last three semesters, usually resulting in temporary suspension of the game. This drama has ranged from a faculty member reporting one of our players for being a school shooter because he had a cloth tied over his mouth in a gangster-fashion (apparently the brightly colored plastic of a Nerf gun is easily mistaken for a real weapon), which almost sent us into a complete lockdown to incredible amounts of bullying and rumor spreading. However, there was almost no drama this year.

I also used HvZ as a way to promote college to a 5th grader from a school group who approached me while I was waiting for a chance to safely leave the building without being massacred by zombies. I was speaking to a zombie I had a class with when this little boy noticed my Nerf Rotofury and ran up to me gushing about how cool it was. While I would not let him shoot it (not for lack of effort on his part), I told him that as long as he worked really hard in school, he could go to any college he wanted, and he could make sure that college had HvZ. As a future educator, this is probably not the best way to promote college to a kid, but if he the possibility to shoot copious amounts of Nerf darts at other people is the tipping point for him to go to college instead of try to make it working at McDonalds fulltime for the rest of his life, then I will be proud.

HUMANS WON! This was the first solid human victory in several years. At the end of the final mission on Thursday night, there are usually no humans left. The only time a human had one in previously in the time I have been playing was when a guy by the name of Tom managed to sneak around all of the zombies while the main group, which I was a part of, was slaughtered. We had returned to the meeting point, thrilled at our zombie victory, only to find Tom waiting for us, having completed the mission on his own. This year, however, was different. The individuals who made it to final mission had mostly done so through experience and skill. These aged survivors were a good omen for two reasons. 1. They were good players who you could trust to have your back. They had the skill and the experience to hold their ground and use their weapons effectively. 2. These people were also some of the most threatening zombies for the same reasons. They had immense experience and practice. However, because they were humans, they could not be zombies until they were tagged in the mission. This final mission was an escort, where we had to defend an NPC (non-player character) while he moved around campus. Amazingly, we pulled it off, and had a decent group of humans (I can name 8 off the top of my head) survive. This was my first time winning as a human, and man, did it feel good.

 

Finally, I would like to speak a little bit about what the game has come to mean to me and how it has shaped my college experience. When I was a freshman, I spent my entire first game as a zombie. This allowed me to learn the game. My second semester, I made it to the final mission as a human, though I was quickly turned into a zombie once the mission started. I only survived because of the escorts I received to and from class by the experienced players, as well as the tricks they taught me for survival. I also was incredibly lucky. At the end of that final mission, I watched a tradition be created. I watched a man named Tyler take off a vest and hand it to a man named Holden.

I would come to learn that this vest belonged to a legendary player for B3 (Blood Bath and Beyond), a team of very skilled players. It was created by Tyler to hold sock grenades that could be easily accessed and thrown at the oncoming hordes. It was handed down to Holden because Tyler saw him as a player with a heck of a lot of promise.

I got to know Holden over the next for semesters. He was darn good. He could take on multiples zombies at once and still come out as a human. As a zombie, he was incredibly deadly. He was also an honest and kind player, who stood by me and my friends when our team came became the victim of false rumors; he even made sure that the good things we accomplished were recognized. The dedication, bravery, and kindness Holden showed during the semesters we played together just really, really made me want to be a player worthy of that vest, even if I never got to wear it.

Last night, at the end of Holden’s final mission, he handed that vest down to me. This vest, which had become a sort of idol in my mind, representing all the best aspects of HvZ, was being passed to me. Talk about being intimidated! I have some big shoes to fill next year when I wear this vest of legends, but I’m going to do my best to be as great a leader and player as Holden and all the other senior players who have made my HvZ experience so amazing.

If any of my HvZ comrades are reading this, thanks for being so amazing and making this game a blast, regardless of whether you were fighting by my side or trying to eat my brains. Let’s hope next year is as great as this one!

Me with my darling Rotofury, affectionately named Steve Rogers

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The vest I earned, with one of the grenades securely in place (ignore the poor lighting, please)

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Disclaimer: Yes, I know I’m making a big deal out of a game, but when that game takes up every part of your life when you are not in work or class, it becomes a big deal. You should try it sometime!

Well, time for me to actually catch up on my sleep. Being out at missions until past 10, coming home and having to shower, pack, and get to bed, does not make for a lot of sleep when you have to be up to open work at 5… Good thing it’s the weekend!

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