by Rich Smith
Let's say you're a zombie with an empty, growling stomach.
Where do you, as one of the living dead, go to find delectable prey upon which to feast?
Harvey Mudd College, of course.
For, to a hungry zombie, HMC is a veritable five-star dining establishment with nothing but grade triple-A brains on the menu.
However, even at a place as well stocked as HMC, a zombie feeding frenzy can quickly deplete the available supply of cerebellums—the very situation that threatened to develop during February when the game craze known as Humans vs. Zombies swept through the five Claremont Colleges with all the intensity of a lab-engineered virus infecting a hapless host body.
The game started at a Maryland college six years ago and since has spread contagion-like to over 200 institutions of higher learning around the globe. It's been a Claremont Colleges staple now for the past three semesters, according to HMC sophomore James White, who served as a game moderator.
As many as 70 of the approximately 400 Claremont Colleges players in the most recent contest were HMC students, White said.
HvZ (gamer shorthand for Humans vs. Zombies) begins with everyone playing the role of a human, except for a handful of players selected by the moderators who function as so-called original zombies to set the chaos in motion. Every human player that one tags turns into a second-generation zombie. These then roam about in search of still other humans to tag. The game typically ends when the lone surviving human—outnumbered and ultimately cornered—is dragged shrieking into this legion of horror.
It amounts to a sophisticated game of tag, but one in which the zombies have distinct tactical advantages. The biggest is that, unlike their movie counterparts with the halting gait, HvZ deadsters are permitted to sprint in pursuit of quarry.
However, the humans don't simply behave like cattle passively awaiting the cull. The goal for them is to elude the zombies for however many days the game is scheduled to run. They do this with the help of special 'weapons"—namely, Nerf-blasters and hand-thrown socks (zombies hit with these are out of play for 15 minutes, affording the humans an opportunity to flee and seek refuge in designated safe zones).
The corps of ambulating corpses won the first two times HvZ was played at HMC. But, on this occasion, victory went to the humans.
Zombie dreams of campus domination died when Pomona first-year Scott Lindburg pulled off a daring escape from the foyer of Galileo Hall, which the zombies had claimed as their hive. As Lindburg exited, he activated a 'trip switch" that detonated 'charges" earlier planted deep within the hive by a determined band of resistance fighters, at this point surrounded and fast running out of hope (as well as socks).
The ensuing pulse 'explosions"—harmless to humans—'vaporized" the entire horde of zombies therein. With the rapacious, brain-lusting creatures vanquished, the dozen or so surviving humans emerged from the destroyed hive and promptly set about the task of building civilization anew at HMC, White reported.
"Players had a fantastic time," he said. 'HvZ is a game that really brings people together."