As of 9 a.m. yesterday morning, UC Davis has been under attack. The enemy is riding the bus, sitting next to you in class and even waiting in front of you in line at the CoHo. But is it human? Not even close.
It’s a zombie.
But don’t worry. There’s a dedicated group of insurgents ready to do battle.
Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ), the tag-on-steroids game invented by college students and played on campuses around the country, has made its way to UC Davis in all its nerf gun-toting, bandana-wearing glory.
First-year genetics major Jonathan Abramson decided to organize a game of HvZ after hearing friends talk about the sport, created in 2005 by students at Goucher College in Maryland.
“It’s a fun thing to waste time with basically,” Abramson said. “I have been wanting to do something like this in college, whether it’s with my dorm or a different type of game, but this one caught my eye because it looked really fun.”
After over 400 players registered on the HvZ web site, Abramson chose a small number of “original zombies” whose goal is to tag as many “humans” as possible using Nerf guns or rolled-up socks.
If approached by zombies, humans can tag them to “stun” them for 15 minutes. If humans are tagged, they must give their zombie tagger their registration ID number so they can be recorded as a new zombie on the web site.
Once a human is tagged, he or she must signify his new zombie status by wrapping a bandana around his head. Humans wear a bandana around their arms.
The game can only be played on campus. All buildings, players on bikes and buses are off-limits.
To discourage players, many of whom are first-years, from hiding in their rooms for the duration of the game, Abramson plans on setting up “missions” designed to gather all participants in a central meeting spot. When all humans have been tagged and turned into zombies, the game is over. If any humans manage to survive until Sunday, Abramson said he will organize a “last stand” to give the humans one last chance to escape the zombie horde.
With the growing popularity of HvZ and movies and TV shows such as “Zombieland” and “The Walking Dead”, players agree that zombies are more fashionable than ever. Junior mechanical engineering major Fred Meyers said he blames the fan culture on the Internet.
“I saw Night of the Living Dead, the old black and white one – my parents probably showed it to me when I was seven,” Meyers said. “[I like] the survival skills that some people display and the storytelling of that: one man, out hunting.”
First-year genetics major Elea Friedman played HvZ with friends in high school and even participated in a “zombie walk:” a two-mile stroll down the street dressed as a zombie.
“We got a lot of weird looks,” Friedman said.
In some versions of HvZ, players have been expected to sleep on campus to become completely immersed in the game. Though Abramson hopes players don’t let the game get in the way of their schoolwork, serious strategies are necessary in order to stay alive.
Rule number 1: Don’t follow a pattern.
“If a zombie is coming after you and is focusing only on you and they see you have a pattern of when you leave for class, they can get more [zombies] to come after you,” Abramson said. “Vary it, and know entrances and exits to buildings.”
Rule number 2: Travel with a group and don’t get separated, Meyers said. He also issued this ominous warning:
“If your friend gets infected, you have the obligation to shoot them in the head. You cannot risk your whole group becoming zombies,” Meyers said.
Though Abramson has not received any complaints from the university or police department about the violence involved in the game, HvZ has gotten negative feedback at other schools. Though naysayers may question the use of guns and war-like strategies, players maintain that it’s all in good fun and not meant to be taken seriously.
“Isn’t that the reason we went to college – to have fun?” said junior math major Nicolo Guevarra.
For Guevarra, HvZ is a way to meet new people and become more involved on campus, despite lingering fears.
“Zombies are the only things I have nightmare about,” Guevarra said. “I have dreams about being in abandoned buildings with zombies. They have always intrigued me.”
Friedman said she didn’t know why the zombie trend is so popular among young people today. But, she claimed, “They’re better than vampires.”
ERIN MIGDOL can be reached at email@example.com.