It’s a ‘Ford-eat-’Ford world out there.
Nearly 190 Haverford community members signed up last Tuesday to play Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ), a live-action game of moderated tag, played at college campuses across the country, where zombies and humans both fight to stay alive.
The game, organized by Fords Against Boredom (FAB) and residents of the nerd-themed Yarnall house, is set to end this Saturday at midnight as Fall Break begins. Identified by their neon-orange armbands, dozens of students, faculty and several administrators are participating, including Dean of First Year Students Michael Martinez, Dean of Global Affairs Donna Mancini, Student Activities Coordinator Lilly Lavner, and even President Dan Weiss.
For zombies, the game has played out much like a regular all-campus game of tag would: they are responsible for tagging any human player found outside of designated safe zones, indoors or within 10 feet of the Blue Bus. Humans, on the other hand, have the objective of staying untagged as long as possible, as they are unable to turn zombies back into humans or remove zombies permanently from the game.
Armed with either balled-up socks or Nerf dart shooters (both of which can stop a zombie from attacking any human for 15 minutes), humans must move about campus on foot without being tagged.
Once a zombie tags a human (who becomes a zombie), the zombie is responsible for publicly recording the tag on the website hosting the game. Each zombie must “feed,” or have a tag recorded for them, every 48 hours to remain active in the game. One tag can feed up to three zombies at a time, chosen by the one who records the tag online.
As the rules stipulate that “anything on wheels means ‘no touchy,’” many humans have taken to riding bicycles, scooters, or skateboards around from one safe zone to another, when they must leave safety at all.
The key to staying alive, humans say, is simply to stay indoors. But just how easy is it to stay inside?
Kenneth Gudel ’15 was a human as of Monday evening when he spoke with The Clerk and eliminated on Tuesday. Like many other participants, Gudel has been relishing the opportunity to play up the melodrama of the apocalyptic theme.
“When I began this venture, I was part of a team,” Gudel says, referring to his residence hall where he and several now-zombie friends had formed an unofficial alliance at the start of the game. “I had people I could trust… but slowly, one by one, they fell to the zombie horde. And now I stand alone.”
Participants, eliminated players, and non-participants alike have been witness to some dramatic chase scenes, especially in and around the Dining Center, reportedly one of the most dangerous areas for humans. Gudel recalled using a dolly cart he borrowed from the Student Tech Crew one afternoon to wheel himself out of the Dining Center and across Lloyd Green, as two zombies circled, waiting to pounce the moment he got off the cart.
Tuesday night, a pack of zombies staked out the entrance to the Dining Center and Chase.
“Being a human for the majority of the game was a great experience because I formed instant bonds with other players I encountered,” says Alison Marqusee ’16, now eliminated. “[On Saturday], two complete strangers and I had a showdown with a squad of zombies in the North Dorms.”
Due to the nature of the game, tags occur sporadically, and dramatic turnarounds are common. The game started last week with just five zombies, and as of 10:00 p.m. Tuesday evening, the total count stands at 22 humans and 32 zombies.
William Leeser ’15, a superstar player, and one of the original zombies, has recorded ten tags, including the high-profile Dean Martinez (who has since “starved”).
Leeser is still at large, as is Matija Lagator ’17, the player responsible for tagging President Weiss. Weiss is still present in the game as a zombie, although he has not actively tagged any humans yet. Lily Lavner was zombified Tuesday evening, and Dean Mancini remains a human.
Unlike Water Tag, there is no cash prize for winning Humans vs. Zombies.
Will humanity prevail? Will zombies consume campus? It appears only time will tell. Both teams have until Saturday at midnight to either tag all humans or remain alive. If just one human stays alive, the zombies will fail, so time is not on the zombies’ side.
All the rest of us can do, then, is wait.