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Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Dude, They’re Like, Coming To Get You, Barbara!

All Hallows Eve is upon us, bringing with it the usual assembly of terrors; poisoned candy, clowns in old dirty vans, voting. But thankfully there is one horror that humanity need no longer fear; the ghoulish hordes of the ravenous undead!

No, not old people on Election Day, but Zombies!

College students everywhere are training for combat against the shambling brain-munchers by playing a game deemed, appropriately enough, Humans Vs. Zombies, or as kids in the know call it, HVZ. The game's invention is credited to two Goucher College students in 2005. It also shares roots with an earlier campus game called Assassins.

A typical game session features a few hundred players and lasts for days if not weeks. Every player starts out as a human, except for one randomly selected soul who suffers an agonizing transformation (tying a bandanna round their head) into a zombie. The initial ghoul then starts building its rotting army by devouring (tagging) every human it can get its hands on. Humans defend themselves with the token arsenal of guns (Nerf) and hand grenades (balled up socks) that can stun a lobe-gobbler for fifteen minutes. A zombie dies if it doesn't consume at least one human every forty-eight hours of game play. Boundaries can stretch across an entire campus and beyond, with certain buildings designated as human safe zones. Most schools that sanction the game also insist on an indoor concealed carry rule for weapons.

As the stinking cerebellum-slurpers swell their ranks it becomes common to see swarms of zombies chasing screaming coeds through the dining hall, or humans bedding down in the library. Other humans often forego classes and bathing and subsist on dry Ramen while holed up in dorm rooms. In order to coax them out organizers develop various "missions" for humans to attempt in order to gain valuable supplies (beer). Veteran players organize military style strike groups and map out detailed strategies to achieve their objectives.

And no, it apparently does not seem at all sad and lame when you're actually playing.

Clearly, this game is proof that even though we still can't get a handle on the werewolf problem, and thousands of lives are lost to mermaid attacks each year, we are ready for the outbreak of the zombie plague. Some people would surely even welcome an undead infestation and all the opportunities for indiscriminate cranium bashing it would present. Forward thinking people everywhere are undoubtedly taking note of the skull structure and thickness of their friends and neighbors.

Though it might be worth mentioning that the humans almost never win a game of HVZ, and lead lives of ever increasing restriction and panic for the duration of the game, I still believe humanity can triumph over zombies and all the mindless over-consumption they symbolize. And, as always, it will be college students that show us the way.

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