By Carina Sorrentino
It is that time of the year on Union’s campus when green and purple arm bands adorn hundreds, Nerf guns become a seasonal accessory and group ambushes swarm the Nott. The Humans vs. Zombies phenomenon has gained increased popularity at Union and expects to include nearly 400 participants this year.
Humans vs. Zombies has yet to achieve club status and remains an independent activity. However, administrators of the activity have applied and hope to receive recognition as a club by next year.
Administrator William Callanan ’14 stated, “We have seen a steady increase from year to year, with 300 last year, and a goal of 400 people this year.”
Callanan has participated in Humans vs. Zombies during all four of his years at Union. The event has occurred for the past eight years, and there has been a significant amount of effort put into drafting a club constitution. There have also been rule modifications to keep participants safer.
Callanan remarked, “We test any of the weapons, and if they leave a mark on you or you wouldn’t be comfortable with it being used on yourself, it is not allowed. There have to be a lot of rules, because there are a lot of safety issues.”
The game began on Monday morning, and will end on Friday, May 23, at 5:00 p.m. A small amount of “OZ’s,” or Original Zombies, are chosen from the participants, and will do their best to infect all of the humans who are playing. With the exceptions of bedrooms, bathrooms, Reamer Campus Center, academic buildings and the Alumni Gym, anywhere is fair game for zombies to infect humans.
The most common human weapons are balled-up socks, Nerf guns, pool noodles and foam swords. The more defense a human has, the better off he or she is, because the competition gets fierce.
For those who have never played before, trial missions are held so people can get the feel of the game and decide whether or not they like it.
A variety of missions are sent to participants via e-mail, which helps to facilitate small battles and showdowns between both groups.
The administrators try to keep the missions fun as well as interactive to draw in as many people as possible, and create incentive for players.
Alexander Regan ’16 survived as one of the few humans in last year’s game, a feat that is not easy to achieve. Regan recalled his determination to win last year, stating that he and a friend packed safety kits and food supplies for themselves, camped out in Davidson Hall, and ended up surviving.
However, no one can win the game with just a few people. There is a great deal of large group collaboration, from Facebook groups to group text messages. The zombie groups identify “high priority” targets and find ways to ambush the most competitive humans.
For humans, the groups can be used to ask people for escorts between buildings, a surprisingly effective tactic. If students don’t find people to escort them, some will even leave through the windows of the academic buildings, according to Callanan.
While the paranoia of being a human can be exhilarating, there is still fun after you are turned. “You get to run around in a huge group of zombies and chase people, so it has its own appeal,” Callanan said.
Even beyond current students, alumni to the program are invited to play and many do. There are days that include special rules for visiting alumni. For instance, alumni are not allowed to carry any weapons while walking around campus.
Callanan concluded by saying, “It is an enjoyable, crazy and awesome thing. It creates an exciting environment for the whole campus, because whether you are playing or not, you get to experience it. That is why I think more people want to participate each year, because they see how fun it can be.”
While the winners may only get bragging rights, the experience itself is unique and fun.
Few activities can draw in hundreds of participants and get people communicating on such a vast level. It fosters camaraderie and friendship. The game is all-inclusive and requires no prior experience, which heightens its appeal.
Whether you are turned to a zombie in the first hour or make it to the final showdown, to say you have participated will provide you with a new way to experience Union, even if only for a week.