Discussing gun violence and Humans vs. Zombies

Concern that the popular game Humans vs. Zombies normalizes gun violence is addressed by faculty and staff

By Brooke Keller
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong
Humans vs. Zombies is a widely played game at UAS. Students run around campus and shoot each other with nerf guns.
Although, the game is a lot of fun there is concern that it may be further normalizing gun violence.
In the wake of Fort Lauderdale airport , Clovis library, Las Vegas, and other recent gun tragedies, it’s essential that the discussion about gun violence isn’t ignored at UAS.
According to UAS Assistant Professor of Social Sciences, Lora Vess, gun cultures in America can’t be generalized because people have very different reasons for owning guns; for example, subsistence, hunting, safety, sport, white supremacy, NRA, etc.
Here in Alaska people have a significant relationship with guns due to subsistence, hunting, and safety.
About 58 percent of Alaskans own a gun, according to a survey conducted by Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
In Alaska protection and/or safety is a reason for gun ownership for some, and these may also be reasons for gun ownership down south; however, the cultures are wildly different.
Bears and other wildlife are likely the concern—in regard to a person’s safety—whereas, the motivation for gun ownership in the lower 48 is other people.
On such a close knit campus, it’s important to take everyone’s feelings into account since guns are a very sensitive and heated topic.
UAS student and Psychology major, Olga Lipson, said, “I think Humans vs. Zombies is a disaster waiting to happen, honestly, in relation to gun cultures. The psychology itself behind shooting something can affect a young individual’s mind, even if they aren’t fully capable of realizing the effects from this type of behavior. I also think it is unhealthy and can contribute toward violence in a gun culture. If guns are viewed as a toy in a game; how is that helping stop violence?”
It’s paramount that people are aware of the resources available during this game.
Student Activities Board encourages students to express any concerns that may occur in regard to the game. Currently, there is a forum prior to the game, a player evaluation after, and a year-end events survey which includes an opportunity for feedback on any SAB-sponsored event.
Student Activities Coordinator and SAB Advisor, Tara Olson, emphasizes that SAB is constantly incorporating student feedback through evaluation processes to improve event offerings.
Academic advisor, Denise Carl, said it could be helpful to provide supplemental education about guns prior to the game. Carl also said it’s important to take into consideration the time of year the game is played because playing in the dark could be scary for some. Carl thinks it’s positive that the game is played earlier in the semester since the daylight hours are longer.
Associate Professor of Political Science, Glenn Wright, said the amount of student involvement Humans vs. Zombies attracts is really positive. Wright said the positives of the game out way the negatives.
Learning how to connect and work with other and crisis management skills is important, and Humans vs. Zombies is a fun way of learning rather than a lecture.
“Creating venues for meaningful student connection and learning, which build a positive sense of campus community, is at the heart of SAB event offerings. Humans vs Zombies also acts as a fun way to practice teamwork and learn emergency management skills,” said Olson.
“As adults we can tell the difference between real artillery and toy nerf blasters.”
Guns can be a helpful tool for hunting and protection. However, they are also very dangerous, and it’s easy for bad accidents to happen without proper knowledge of gun safety. Providing resources and education is important when using guns, even in the ammunition is foam.
The goal is to be inclusive of everyone’s needs, so looking at the deeper meaning of a game like HvZ is critical.

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