BY McKENZIE DORNBIRER
AND JUSTIN PARISH
For the UAS Whalesong
Dated April 23, 2012
Zombies have taken over campus! Well, just for a week in early April as part of Humans versus Zombies (HvZ), a nationwide game that fosters student engagement.
The University of Alaska Southeast held its own zombie takeover during the week of April 9. The event was put on by the Student Activities Board, and proved to be a major success – with students reporting stress relief, exercise, and new friendships made. Most importantly, everyone had a ton of fun.
It was hard not to notice the hoards of students in bright orange “Human” or “Zombie” arm and headbands, hiding in bushes and carrying Nerf dart guns around campus. Between classes, if they were outside, the game was on! 115 students took the game very seriously.
Tara Olsen, director for the Student Activities Board here at UAS said that they brought HvZ to UAS in order to foster student engagement.
“The purpose of Humans versus Zombies at UAS was to increase student engagement; encourage creative expression, problem solving, and teamwork; stress relief; and to get students exerting themselves physically between classes,” Olsen said.
The premise of HvZ, as described on he official Humans Versus Zombies website (humansvszombies.org) is as follows:
“Humans vs. Zombies is a game of tag. All players begin as humans, and one is randomly chosen to be the “Original Zombie.”
The Original Zombie tags human players and turns them into zombies. Zombies must tag and eat a human every 48 hours or they starve to death and are out of the game.” At UAS, the rules were altered slightly to serve our smaller campus. For example, zombies needed to tag a human every 24 hours to avoid starvation, but the general concept remained the same.
Student Kaycie Thompson invited some “human” friends over for a movie on the first night.
“It was a very scary time. Everyone was terrified. We had to clear the way for our friends to get to the apartment. We felt so alive!” Thompson said.
Student Joe Lewis echoed her sentiments.
“My favorite thing was the intensity… Especially when human. Sneaking around the buildings, taking the woods [to class], running for your life,” he said. Every night, when he got home his fiancee would ask him, ‘Did you die?’
Another student, Kierstin Barlow, described her feelings about being infected by one of the zombies:
“I went from anger at being infected, to acceptance, to just wanting to eat people,” she said.
“Humans and Zombies completed missions like: transporting a scientist to a new lab so he can continue work on a zombification antidote; obtain a blood sample from the original zombie; locate items to reenforce your base and hold the base for a certain amount of time; and get to the evacuation point to be transported away from the zombie-infected area,” Olson said.
“I want to emphasize the tremendous amounts of new friendships that were a product of this week long game. I personally have made several connections and friendships that will last well past graduation,” said Student Activities Board leader Jeton Johnson. He also told of one of the hidden costs of the game.
“My phone broke…but it’s kinda pointless being mad about a phone when you make so many new friendships.”
“This game really energized the campus and got everyone talking/interested in what was going on. One of our professors, Sol Neely, was involved a mission. Our Mourant Cafe staff offered zombie make-up to participating students, and numerous students, staff, and faculty were entertained watching the game unfold on campus,” Olson said of the zombie takeover.
Professor Neely lauded the game.
“It allows students to gain an intimacy with campus. That’s part of being at home here.”
The total cost of the game came to about $1000, including: 100 bandanas, subsidized Nerf blasters and the apocalypse party.
Of the 115 humans who began the game on Monday, April 9, fewer than a dozen survived and were evacuated in the final mission. A few more survivors remained huddled in their homes, clutching their socks close and their blasters closer, waiting for the end. Only two small groups escaped.
The first group arrived at the evacuation point before any zombies.
“We ran through the woods between housing and the REC. We all fell. I lost my phone,” said student Montana Lee Nolan, attributing their success to good planning and being well-armed.
If the first group had kept possession of the doorway, the later arrivals may have had a chance. However, they fled before the first concentrated assault of zombies on the evacuation point and of the many humans who attempted the doorway after them, only five made it through.
Led by J.J. Cunnington, those five ran around the REC, through the backdoor, out the front door, and back in, to triumph.
Cunnington reflected on his strategy in the the week-long game.
“People with the biggest guns got targeted first. . . Stealth was the name of the game, which points against the action hero mentality, which I will carry with me in case of an actual zombie apocalypse.”
In a strange travesty of justice, Rob Madderra, the original zombie, was amongst the evacuees. After a week of terrorizing humans to feed his insatiable hunger, he was cured and escaped.
To date there has been no official confirmation from campus administrators that the zombie threat has been liquidated. Olson noted that it was highly likely that the virus would mutate over the summer and perhaps erupt again sometime during the 2012-2013 school year (i.e. this year’s game was such a success that the Student Activities Board plans to hold two more HvZ games next year; one in the fall, right in time for Halloween, and another in the Spring.) Also, no permanent vaccination for the virus has been discovered as of yet.
Consider yourself warned.