Over the course of the next week, you’re probably going to see a bunch of people with bandanas around their head sprinting around campus attacking people and people with bandanas around their arms carrying nerf guns and wadded socks or marshmallows. Although it may not seem like it, there is no need to be worried. This chaotic activity is under control. All of these people are playing in a week-long game that happens each semester called Humans vs Zombies.
“Humans vs Zombies is basically just a week-long, 24/7 game of tag,” said Vice President Daphne Carlson. “As long as you are outside, you can get tagged. We’ve had people go to Yellowstone with their friends, forgetting about the game, and get tagged there. The entire purpose of the game is to survive. The zombies’ purpose is to make sure the you don’t.”
“Zombies start to work as teams really well. They’ll eventually start texting each other locations of where they found humans, and a gang of them will find the human and tag him. The humans have to paying attention. If not, they will die.”
The campus-wide game is huge, usually ranging from about 200-500 players. On average, there is usually one zombie for every 40 players. This may not seem like a lot, but by around the third day of Humans vs. Zombies, the zombies always seem to outnumber the humans.
The base rules for Humans vs Zombies are simple. Each human starts with a headband around their arm and each zombie starts with a headband around their head. If you are tagged by a zombie, you become a zombie and have to put your headband around your head. The zombies aren’t allowed to carry any sort of weapons. Their only way to kill a someone is to tag them. However, the humans are allowed to carry a whole assortment of weapons including nerf guns, which have to be brightly colored for safety reasons.
“We have had people in the past have dark colored guns, and it really caused some scary moments as they sometimes looked like real guns, and we don’t want people to look like they’re shooting real guns at other people,” Carlson said. “It’s just easier if you can get a brightly colored gun. That won’t cause alarm.”
If you don’t feel like going out and spending $20 on a nerf gun, you don’t have to. Humans are also allowed to have marshmallows or socks that they can throw at people. If a zombie is hit, they are “stunned” for 15 minutes so the humans can get away to safety.
As a human, you are only allowed to be tagged outside. There is also a 10-foot safe zone radius around all of the buildings to avoid people crashing into buildings and hurting themselves. When you join as a human, you are given a number. When you are tagged, you have to give your number to the zombie that tagged you, so they can enter it in the computer to register you as a zombie in the overall system.
The most important rule of all is simple: don’t be a jerk. “It’s really easy to get caught up in the moment,” Carlson said. “The chases can get intense and people sometimes get tackled. If you get tackled by a zombie and he demands your registration number, you are allowed to stand up, brush yourself off and be like ‘dude you were a total jerk, that’s breaking the rules. I’m not giving you my number.’ The ultimate goal of the game is to have fun. If you’re being a jerk, nobody is having fun, and that just defeats the purpose.”
Staying cooped up inside isn’t a legitimate strategy either. Every night, there is a mission all of the humans are encouraged to do. This is where most of the fun comes from in Humans vs Zombies.
Apart from having fun, Carlson said, it’s a great way to meet people. “When I first came to college, I didn’t really know anyone. I decided to do Humans vs Zombies and I met so many people. So many of them have stayed my friends since I got here. It was one of the best things I’ve done.”
Every year it’s chaotic fun for everyone participating. It’s a great way to meet people and a fun beginning-of-the-year activity. To sign up, visit hvzsource.com/msu_bozeman.