HvZ: Surviving the Workload/Apocalypse

Hey guys! Today I’m going to be talking about Humans vs Zombies, a 5C game that happens once every semester, spanning the course of a week.

Students running in a parking structure during the Fall 2014 game of HVZ

An image during a mission in the Fall 2014 game of HVZ

The premise of Humans vs Zombies is fairly simple- there are two teams, Humans and Zombies, indicated by bandanas (around the head or neck for zombies, around the upper arm for humans). For zombies the primary goal of the overall game is to tag humans and turn them into zombies. For humans, the primary goal is to survive, using Nerf guns and socks as weapons which temporarily ‘stun’ zombies.

A student creeps out of a doorway during a stakeout in Case dorm. Photo credit: Liam Brooks

A stakeout in Case dorm. Photo credit: Liam Brooks

When it comes down to it, I can’t tell you guys as much as one of the moderators for the game, so I sat down with my friend Mariechristine Garcia to get a better sense of the game. I meant for it to be an interview, but MC really didn’t need any prompting, so the following text will be her more or less uninterrupted.

“So you’re here to interview me about HvZ, the week long long post-apocalyptic zombie simulations… *describes the rules shown above*. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s pretty big on Mudd. I think that most of our players come from Mudd. You’ll sometimes see really cute squads popping up from dorms. I know last year there were a lot of Case Frosh who did one of our sidequests together, and got an item that made them better humans, and when died they became zombies made them better zombies. South has banana squad, where they dress up in banana suits and run around and play the game.”

Students running around in the dark during a night mission. Photo credit: Liam Brooks

Sometimes you need to operate in darkness! Photo credit: Liam Brooks

“There’s a lot of stuff during the day happens, but there’s night play too. You meet at an agreed upon location, usually Pomona which is far, but within walking distance. Then we have night missions, where humans and zombies are together, and are usual trying to further their goal for the week. Every semester we have new missions. It feels weird to recycle missions or mechanics that we’ve used in the past. There are usually cool upgrades that come into play there too.”

A group of humans moving out on a night mission. Photo credit: Liam Brooks

Moving out on a night mission. Photo credit: Liam Brooks

Me: “Here’s a question: Can you shoot socks at people? Like if I were to make a potato gun?”

MC: “If you were to make a potato gun, or really just any modifications, like overloading your Nerf blaster, you’d have to come to the mods and say ‘Hey! I made this thing that shoots socks!’ and we’d say ‘Sweet, shoot us with it!’. If you hurt us with it we’d say ‘banned’, but if it didn’t hurt, or only stung a reasonable amount, then you could use it. Now Mudd has the MakerSpace which has 3D printing. There’s this one sophmore who literally 3D printed all of the parts to make his own Nerf blaster.”

Humans huddle during a night mission. Photo credit: Liam Brooks

Suspense and daring! Photo credit: Liam Brooks

Me: “How long has HvZ been going on?”

MC: “I actually just read something about this, lemme check for your. I think it started Spring 2010, so there have been 2,4,6… This will be the 16th game.”

Me: “So, do you know how or if the game has changed in terms of styling?”

MC: “The game has definitely changed from being something that’s highly militaristic. Squads used to be highly organized and train a lot outside of the game. The game also used to be super masculine, guy heavy. It provided lots of space for men to be toxicly masculine. Then there were a couple of Scripps students who started an initiative where, for instance for the final mission they’d have everyone wear dresses and skirts and stuff like that. It was kind of just a way to comment on the fact that this wasn’t a space where women were equally represented and equally trusted, and that was not OK. Then also the Valkyrie squad came up which is a group from Scripps which is all women. And as the game progressed, and these things started being talked about and resolved with the players and the mod team, the game changed from being this more militaristic thing to being people running around and having fun with Nerf blasters, and I think that’s the aesthetic we’ve got going right now. Of our current mod team of 7, only 2 are guys. The demographic has definitely changed.”

Action and drama! Photo credit: Liam Brooks

Action and drama! Photo credit: Liam Brooks

Me: “What’s a real fun HvZ story?”

MC: “It would have been Thursday night fall, my frosh year. I wasn’t on the moderating team, because I was a frosh and didn’t know what I was doing. I got to play a wolf pack member that mission. A wolf pack is a group of 5 zombies, and basically once you’ve all gotten stunned you can go to a special place and together say ‘One brains, brains, brains, Two, brains, brains, brains’, then you’ll all respawn and can go back to tag humans. For whatever reason, the humans were terrified of leaving the safe area where the briefing for the night mission had happened. The humans just refused to move, so the five of us just waited there while the other zombies went and set themselves up where the objectives were. They just kept trying to shoot us, and wouldn’t leave the safe zone. Then we ended up starting to have discussions, we talked about musical theater, and at some point the wolf pack went INTO the safe zone, and started giving humans ‘wolf pack hugs’, because they were just too terrified to move. That was a lot of fun. I got to talk to people, and make friends. Then some weird communications happened with the mod team, and ALL of the zombies were stunned by this huge EMP that an NPC set off. The mission just kind of went crazy after that. The humans decided to go an complete all of the objectives quick while the zombies were down, and in the final boss fight the humans were released like 2 seconds before the zombies were, so there wasn’t really a boss fight.”

Zombies laughing during a night mission. Photo credit: Liam Brooks

Humans vs Zombies is a great time, and Mudders love to have a great time. Sometimes you need to operate in darkness! Photo credit: Liam Brooks

“It was all kind of a mess. I still think it’s one of my favorite missions though, because it really shows a lot of the human interaction that’s possible in the game, the pure wholesome chaos, and just some of the challenges in making the game happen.”

This year’s fall HvZ will happen from October 30th to Novermber 4th. If you want to sign up, there’s still time! Mods will be tabling at the Hoch, Mudd’s dining hall, the next few days, or you can send an email to Mod@claremonthvz.org to sign up or get more information.