Someone yells to a group of students marked with green bandanas around their arms. In the distance a horde of students, this time with the bandanas tied around their heads, runs towards the first group. The area erupts into chaos as the first group—the humans—struggle to find shelter from the zombies—the second group.
Case Western Reserve University has been plagued by a zombie apocalypse. Students have armed themselves with nerf blasters, darts, and socks in an effort to stave off the ever growing population of zombies on their way to and from classes.
Hosted by the Big Games Club, Humans vs Zombies—also known as HvZ by those who play—has been on CWRU’s campus since 2008. One hundred to two hundred students every semester try to see just how long they will be able to survive before getting turned and joining the zombie team. For some, it’s just seconds after they step out of their residence hall on the first day of the game. For others, they are able to go the entire game without getting tagged.
Iris Wilcox, a third-year religious studies major and the public relations chair for the Big Games Club, remembers one year when she was surrounded four to one by zombies—and lived to tell the tale.
“There were four zombies just sitting on the front porch of Guilford just waiting for me … I stunned the first one and then the other three just kind of froze. My professor was filming it on his phone, so there is video evidence of me one-v-fouring four zombies and making it safely into Guilford.”
She and another moderator for HvZ even got themed manicures, with neon green and black nail polish. Wilcox has been participating in HvZ since her first semester on campus.
“I just love it. You get to meet so many people, and you’re immediately connected to someone you’ve never talked to.”
The game is well-loved across campus, with entire floors of residence halls signing up to play. Arland Zatania Lojo is a residence assistant for first years, and has had a lot of fun being an original zombie in the game.
“For me, it’s a way of forgetting about studies. It’s just while you’re outside of buildings so it doesn’t affect school itself. It just changes how you go from your room to class.”
The Big Games Club has been careful to ensure that all students—both those involved and those who have chosen not to sign up—not only enjoy the experience but also are safe. Not only do players have to go to an extensive rules meeting to ensure they understand the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of HvZ, but they also enlist the help of moderator players during the course of the game to help monitor the action.
Additionally, the club is very careful to ensure proper vocabulary is used—saying “nerf blaster” and “dart” rather than “gun” and “bullet,” to make sure that any offhand, casual comments about the game do not incite panic. Another semantical rule created to avoid misgendering is to only refer to players for whom you do not know their preferred pronouns as “human” or “zombie” rather than “him” or “her.”
For students who are interested in pursuing a larger role within the game, moderator and core applications opened on Friday, Oct. 11.