“Humans vs. zombies” infects campus
Walking down San Francisco Street in the dead of night inherently insights a level of fear, caution and paranoia. Add Nerf guns, flashlights and your fellow peers embodying the essence of the lurking undead and you’re in a new echelon of excitement.
Humans vs. Zombies has long prowled across college campuses and the terrifying stories lie in the rapidly beating hearts of the human players and slowly rotting brains of their zombie counterparts.
Bryce Ribucan, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, and Rachel Pang, a sophomore computer science major, were both humans. From within “human central,” a room in the engineering and natural sciences building, they discussed tactics with other players before a mission to be launched April 25 to escort a student “scientist” across campus to the biological sciences building. Ribucan said he was not afraid of the impending danger.
“I haven’t seen a lot [of zombies],” Ribucan said. “I walked from the Union to [the engineering building] midday and I only got chased down once. [Zombies] are blatant about it. From the [zombies] that I have seen, I’m not scared.”
Pang, however, said she was terrified.
“I have been taking the extra routes around buildings,” Pang said. “[The game] is actually kind of interesting because it makes you realize all the different entrance points of the buildings you usually don’t go through.”
Along San Francisco Street on the night of the mission, passing cars honked and shouts filled the cold night air as the large group of humans trekked to the biological sciences building. Humans could be heard warning one another to stay vigilant as packs of zombie players crept along the road and within the trees. It didn’t take long for a zombie to scream: “Three! Two! One! Go!”
More attempts by zombies to attack took place the rest of the way to the human’s destination, and more human players fell. On the night of the mission, Ribucan and Pang both fell to the hoard and the mission victory was awarded to the zombies.
Ribucan said the game has become about more than tag and hide and seek.
“When it comes to a game like this, it’s all about the people who play it,” Ribucan said. “The people who are in this game . . . are really into it but still have that respect.”
Pang said the coordination between human players and zombie players has been constant, with rule change collaboration and bonds being formed through game play.
“It’s really nice to see that [while] on different sides, we’re trying to keep the game even and fair and fun to play,” Pang said. “Actually, this game has been a good friend-making game.”
Michael Palmisciano, an undeclared freshman, said he enjoyed being part of the mission on behalf of the zombie players. Unfortunately, he had to withdraw from the game entirely. Not because he had not tagged a human player for 48 hours and thus “starved to death” as game rules dictate, but because of a possibly fractured foot.
“There were a few times I hid in trees and did things I probably shouldn’t have,” Palmisciano said. “The zombie side is a bit trickier. Some people go ‘Oh, I’m a zombie,’ and quit. The thing that keeps a zombie going is you. It’s the person.”
Palmisciano said he looks forward to increased awareness of the game bringing more participants to the next game. While a Facebook event showed over 150 people attending the game and a group comprised of more than 500 members, visible participation varied.
Facebook was an important communication system for both human and zombie players. Players had the ability to call for help from fellow team members and — in some cases — set traps for the opposing team. Ribucan, Pang and Palmisciano said they experienced both the rewards and missteps in using the social media site to strategize.
Suggestions for newcomers and future participants were similar from all three players: improve your cardio, do not let hunger be your downfall and invest in a large amount of Nerf darts. The next round of NAU Humans vs. Zombies is scheduled to begin on Oct. 29.
“Arm yourselves,” Palmisciano said.