Humans vs. Zombies: A Social Experience

by on Jan.27, 2010, under life, thoughts

Last semester, some students from my university worked with university officials to get a game of Humans vs. Zombies going. After hearing about the game, I decided I wanted to join up to play the game. It was going to be a two-day game: starting Friday at 5 PM, and ending Sunday at 5 PM, as a trial for the university. Unfortunately, I was going to be off campus that weekend, so I wasn’t able to sign up. However, as soon as I heard they were doing another round, I knew I had to do my best to be on campus for the game.

So, working with the university some more, these students organized a three day game: starting Thursday at 5 PM, and ending Sunday at 5 PM. The students wanted to have a week-long game, but the university wanted to see how the game would work with people travelling between classes before they allowed that. I got aNerfgun for Christmas, and was eager for the game to get started. I attended the necessary meeting to sign up for the game, and just had to wait until Thursday to start playing.

Now, after the game is over, I have this to say: I can’t wait for the week-long game which is planned for some time in April. Humans vs. Zombies is not only a great excuse to run around campus with a Nerf gun, shooting people for the fun of it, but also a great way to be social and meet new people. The teamwork and strategy involved is amazing, and I definitely met some great people I would have otherwise never said hi to. Needless to say, I’ve been disappointed to find out that some college campuses refuse to allow the game to happen.

A lot of the arguments I’ve seen against the game from universities has been the use of Nerf guns. Even my university has a policy against allowing Nerf guns in the dorm rooms, but most RAs here don’t seem to mind them, as long as we’re not running around in the hallways and causing a ruckus. The people on the Humans vs. Zombies website also have some interesting advice to getting around this: never call them Nerf “guns”. Nerf themselves refers to them as Nerf “blasters”, with foam “darts”, so use this terminology. It may seem like small change, but I can see how it would make a big difference.

Another issue has been the use ofbandannasin the game. Players must wear a bandanna around either their arm or head to denote whether they are a human or zombie. However, some universities worry that this can be seen as a gang symbol, and, coupled with carrying a Nerf “gun”, this would not look good to the local police. The solution the Humans vs. Zombies website has for this is, unfortunately, costly. The organization sells bright-orange bandannas for use in the game. It should be clear to most cops that no gang would use bright orange bandannas that say either “HUMAN” or “ZOMBIE” as a gang sign, so there should be no trouble. Unfortunately, these bandannas cost $5 each. Hopefully, though, people will play the game once, buying a bandanna, and donate the bandanna to the people organizing the game when they no longer wish to take part in it. Of course, fundraisers are also an option.

Overall, to universities who want to consider banning Humans vs. Zombies, I say this: please don’t. The game does not promote gun violence, or shooting people, etc. It’s a social event that’s a lot of fun for students to take part in, and makes the campus come to life. If you want to consider banning the game for its violence, you should also ban any video game with violence in it in the dorms. I urge universities to work with students to figure out a way to get the game going even if they have worries about one aspect of the game. Students won’t have all the ideas on how to work around restrictions: offer suggestions that would work well for both parties.

As a final note, Humans vs. Zombies would look great to prospective students. As a senior in high school, if I had visited a college and there were a bunch of kids running around with Nerf guns shooting each other… that would give the school huge bonus points.

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1 Comment for this entry

  • Ben Barber

    As a side note, I think all of our games so far have coincided (to some extent) with visit days. Visit days aren’t always posted on the calendar, so we generally find out about the coincidence two to three weeks after the event gets scheduled.

    Also, it’s great to hear that people are really are looking forward to the next game. It’s what makes all the talks worth it. 😀

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