Humans fend off ‘zombies’ with marshmallows
Popular game gaining traction at UNH
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
Adorned with bandanas on their heads and arms, participants in this year’s game of Humans vs. Zombies experienced both paranoia and excitement while running around campus with one thought in mind: survival.
“I love the general absurdity of it all,” said Katherine Norwood, a junior and one of the game’s moderators. “It’s a healthy distraction from classes.”
In order to get involved in Humans vs. Zombies, or HvZ, students had to sign up on the official website. The game officially began on Sunday, Sept. 23 and wrapped up on Thursday night, Sept. 27.
Once the registration for the game closes and the game begins, an original zombie is chosen while all the other participants begin as humans. For the first 24 hours, the original zombie is unmarked, meaning he or she wears no bandana, and begins the intense game of tag.
Once the original zombie tags the humans, he or she can build a team of zombies and the game ultimately begins. The goal by the end of the game is to have all of the humans turned into zombies. However, if any humans survive at the end, the human team wins.
The zombies need to “feed” every 48 hours and they do this by hunting down the humans. If they fail to hunt down humans within this time range, they will ultimately starve.
“It’s like a giant game of moderated tag,” said Kurtis Sawyer, a senior. Sawyer is one of the game’s moderators.
Any building serves as a safe zone, meaning that the game can only be played outside. The best way to get the game moving, however, is the nightly missions, organized by the moderators.
“The idea of the missions is to get the humans and zombies together,” Norwood said.
The missions help to form camaraderie between the players and promote different forms of strategy development between the teams. During the missions, the humans cannot hide out in their rooms and not participate in the game.
The last mission was held Thursday night and the humans ended up steering clear of the mission and as a result were not caught by the zombies.
Another important part of the game is the way in which the humans can fight back. Because Nerf guns have been outlawed on campus for this specific game, the humans are allowed to use rolled-up socks and jumbo marshmallows to throw at the zombies in order to fend them off.
“It’s just as fun without Nerf guns,” Sawyer said.
Unfortunately, when the students who signed up found out that Nerf guns were not allowed for this game of Humans vs. Zombies, many of them decided not to play in the game. The moderators said that they are in negotiation with the UNH Police Department about using Nerf guns in the future.
The Nerf guns are seen as a weapon and according to Norwood, the Nerf guns create safety concerns. The game moderators and the police do not want to create any sort of panic on campus.
“The game’s organizers met with me last year and were very helpful in laying out the game, safety precautions and other logistical issues,” said Paul Dean, executive director of public safety.
Dean said that he is meeting with organizers to assist them in expanding the game further for this year.
The moderators said they hope that if they are allowed to use Nerf guns in the future, participation in the game will skyrocket.
Michael Balch, one of the game’s moderators, said that this year’s turnout of Humans vs. Zombies was unprecedented. He estimates that about 75 percent of the participants were first-time players.
“We are hoping to keep getting increased turnout and recognition on campus,” Balch said.
About 150 students signed up online to play the game, but only a few of them actively participated in the missions. The moderators attribute this to busy schedules and prior commitments at night. Moderators said that they try to do the missions at night so they don’t interfere with classes.
The students said they hope that with increased advertising throughout the campus and by visiting the game’s Facebook page, the number of students participating will double. The moderators are planning on doing another Humans vs. Zombies game in November. They said they hope that with a successful game in September and with further game expansion, the turnout will be double what they had in September.
The official website for the Humans vs. Zombies game is www.humansvszombies.org.
Junior Andrew Wood is a moderator and has been involved with Humans vs. Zombies since its inception at UNH two years ago. He helped to bring the game to the university when he saw his friends raving about the game at the University of Maine, Orono.
With the fourth official installation of Humans vs. Zombies being a success, the group cannot wait for the organization to grow and for the game to become even better.
“This is the footprint I want to leave on the university,” Wood said.
According to the Humans vs. Zombies UNH Facebook page, Nerf gun use was approved fro the next game late Monday afternoon.