When a bunch of people in my entry came back from a trip to the mall with nerf guns, I had no idea what was going on. The common room was scattered with Styrofoam bullets, and walking through the hallways at Mission made you fair game for being shot at. As it turned out, this fascination with nerf guns turned out to be the prelude to a new tradition – the game Humans vs. Zombies – a game not unlike KAOS, which has been played in previous years at the College.
Humans vs. Zombies entails a list of fairly simple rules. Those who wish to participate sign up online, and when the game begins, one person is chosen to be the original zombie. To distinguish who is a zombie and who is a human, zombies wear a bandana or scarf around their heads, and humans wear a bandana around their arms. The zombies’ role is to turn other humans into zombies by tagging them. Humans defend themselves from zombies with nerf guns, which are able to temporarily stun the attacking zombie for 15 minutes. Attacks may only take place outdoors, and the story is updated each evening through the Humans vs. Zombies listserv.
The game KAOS, on the other hand, is like a big circle: Each person who signs up for the game is assigned a target and is also someone else’s target. When someone kills his or her target, the target of the murdered person is assigned to the killer, and the circle gets smaller. Unlike Humans vs. Zombies, the indoors is not a safe space in KAOS, and people have been known to ambush their targets in the bathroom or wait outside their target’s door for hours.
Nigel Munoz ’15 is the creator of Humans vs. Zombies. “The game originally came from Goucher College,” he said. “I’ve known about it for a while. I hosted a game back at my high school that was a lot of fun, so when I got to the College, I really wanted to bring it here.” Nigel designed the website and the listserv, and each night he updates the players of the game on who has been tagged, embellishing the story with details and creating plot twists that change or add to the rules of the game. “It definitely takes some time out of my day, but it’s so much fun,” Munoz said.
Munoz explained that he had started off as a human, but on Oct. 29, he was unfortunately turned into a zombie. “My strategy was to take the farthest route to class that I could, to stay away from densely populated areas and to stay with other humans at all times,” he said. “It worked out pretty well, but unfortunately I walked into a science quad building and a bunch of zombies started following me around waiting for me to leave so they could tag me. I had an escape plan to get out, but it failed, so I ended up joining the hoard.”
To get an idea of the similarities and differences between Humans vs. Zombies and KAOS, I talked to Miles Horton ’14, last year’s KAOS winner. He explained to me that there are originally around 100 people who sign up for the game, but once it gets down to between five and 10 people, there’s a final round in the ’62 Center where each person has to hunt down three other people in a certain order.
“I was actually eliminated early on, in the first round of the game, and I was out of the game for most of January,” Horton explained. “But then I got an e-mail from the KAOS listserv saying that if I wanted to get back into the game, I should shoot this person.” Horton had to wait in a closet for two hours, but he managed to shoot his target and then make it to the final round. “In the final round, ‘safety first’ was my strategy. I was very conscious of not being shot, not taking too many risks and not getting too close to my target unless it was a sure hit. It took four hours, but I had a sweet victory party afterwards.”
I also talked to Kimmy Sanders ’12 and Garrett Anstreicher ’15, two participants in the Humans vs. Zombies game. “I am currently a zombie, but haven’t turned anyone else into a zombie yet,” Sanders explained. “I just walk around wearing a bandana around my head. I started off as a human, but I was leaving an academic event with a friend, and there was no way to avoid being tagged, so I joined the hoard.” Anstreicher explained that he has been tagged once as a zombie, but he was one of the six people who are resurrected every night through the listserv. “The game has been really fun,” he said. “Who doesn’t love nerf guns? I’m definitely looking forward to playing KAOS in the winter.”
In the meantime, these students will be trying to hold on to their humanity.