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Humans vs. Zombies comes to Western

For those participating, the Zombie Apocalypse is headed your way

By Caetlyn Padgett | Freelancer
On April 6, 2011

This past Monday, April 4, Western began participating in a huge game of tag known as "Humans Vs. Zombies" (HVZ).

Students who play as "zombies" must "feed" (i.e. tag) on a "human" every 48 hours, or they will starve. Every participant is also required to wear a bandanna, which zombies wear on their head and humans around their arm, and carry an index card with an identifying number. If tagged by a zombie, a human must give their ID card to the zombie team. One hour later, they become a member of the zombie team. The humans win if all the zombies starve to death and the zombies win if there are no members remaining on the human team.

Safe zones, where no member of either team may be tagged, include personal dorm rooms, dining halls, Hamersly Library, Western academic buildings and gyms/athletic centers. Prospective zombies (or humans) must also fill out an application and agree to abide by the rules of the game.

The official website for HVZ,, states that the game, "especially on college campuses . . . provides a social opportunity that is unmatched by any other academic or extracurricular activity. Many players tell us that they found their best friends while playing this game. That's no coincidence; this game breeds close interpersonal connections unheard of from traditional team athletics. The nature of the game requires you to put your "life" (or "un-life") in the hands of your fellow players. If you're willing to commit yourself to it, participation in HVZ can result in camaraderie that lasts far beyond the game's time frame."

HVZ has been hosted at many other colleges in the area, including Oregon State University. Lyndon State College (LSC) in Vermont recently participated in this event, with LSC's campus newspaper, "The Critic," interviewing several players.

"It's one of the best events on campus at LSC," said Kevin Lessard, one of the human survivors from the last game.

"It was something to look forward to, it creates a lot of excitement," said sophomore Alyssa Sylvia.

"I had witnessed other campuses playing this game and I noticed how it inspired people to work together as a team to complete a goal," said Ian Gard, organizer of the event. "Group projects in school are never fun and therefore the team has very little incentive to truly work together. HVZ gives people an actual reason to work together because it is fun."

Stephen Cucchiara, coordinator for student activities at Western, said that HVZ is a great opportunity for students.

"It provides a unique experience for students," he said. "I mean, when else will you get a chance to play a giant, zombie-themed game of tag?! It will also be a great way to meet new people and try something you maybe haven't before. I strongly encourage Western students to get involved."

Organizers faced some challenges when adapting HVZ for this campus, partly because Western's policies ban any sort of gun-like object or toy. Traditionally, the human team uses Nerf guns to shoot zombies, but Western's humans will stun the zombies by "bonking" them with rolled-up socks.

"HVZ brings two main contributions to the campus, teamwork and fun," explained Gard. "In classroom group projects there are always people who simply don't do anything at all because they are not motivated to. In HVZ everyone is motivated, because it's fun. Every campus needs fun activities; it's the way students work off stress. If throwing socks at ‘zombies' doesn't relieve stress nothing will."

HVZ's website also offers their main reason for playing, stating, "Part of going to college is learning to take yourself more seriously, be it through developing your opinions, honing your discipline or by many other means. When we look at the professional world, we see many intelligent, disciplined, serious people, but we're worried that it comes at a price. It's easy to become so wrapped up in your own professional serious image that you forget how to have fun."

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