Humans vs. Zombies
For one week a semester, Rachel Clark lives by two words: Be paranoid.
It’s not because of finals, class registration, or Dead Week — though the final item may seem applicable — but because flying socks and marshmallows are the norm and death lurks in every shadow and doorway.
Tech’s campus has fallen prey to zombies.
Students, faculty, and staff take part in Humans vs. Zombies, or HvZ, a weeklong game of tag with short missions and strategy mixed in. Everyone except for one Original Zombie, selected by a team of admins, starts off as human, and they defend themselves against zombies by stunning them with either marshmallows or balled-up socks. Zombies are stunned for a default of 10 minutes, during which time they can’t play.
Clark, a computer science major, has had the experience of playing the whole week as both a zombie and a human. Each has its advantages, she said.
“Being a human is fun because it really tests your ability,” she said. “Every day you survive feels like a pretty neat accomplishment.” The zombie life, Clark said, is also fun, but less stressful. “It’s also more common for zombies to casually hunt in groups, which makes a great chance to meet new people.”
Number One Rule: “Don’t be a jerk.” (Read the whole rule book)
Missions are conceived and coordinated by the admin team throughout the week to give each side a chance to get an edge on beating the other. The strategically placed yellow bandanas — on the upper arm for humans, and on the head for zombies — seem to bond strangers. Admin Colin Sanders, an electrical engineering major, once had someone from a nearby building offer him a hiding place when a zombie was chasing him through a quad.
“HvZ seems to bring people from a lot of different walks of life together for this one week,” said Erikzzon Latoja, a game admin and computer engineering major.
New players need not worry about going into the game with a strategy — in Clark’s first foray, she said, she loaded up with zombie-stunning ammo by simply dumping her sock drawer into her backpack.
“Some people are really afraid of the zombies, which is interesting when people get into character,” Sanders said. “But sometimes you’ve got to fight for your life.”
HvZ is played at colleges across the country, but Tech is known for having the longest set of rules of any campus.
“Engineers know how to find and exploit loopholes pretty well,” Latoja said. “It’s impressive.”
Daniel Valdez, a fourth-year mathematics major, has played and administered the game multiple times and appreciates the creativity people bring to the game, even when trying to find loopholes.
“People are always trying to push the limits, which I think is overall a good thing,” he said.
Valdez has been a game admin twice, but took a semester off in between because he couldn’t resist the thrill of the game.
“I just really wanted to play.”