The Archmage's Ruminations

Reflections on a Nerdy Pastime: Part 1

Blogmaster Helen Cothrel,

Around a month ago, I played Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ) for the first time. I can say with much confidence that it was one of the most fun things I have ever done. Though to a veteran, my tales likely seem puerile, I’d like to regale you with my first HvZ experience. I’ll include a little explanation for those unfamiliar with the game.

“Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ) is a large scale game of modified tag where players attempt to survive (or spread) a zombie apocalypse” (HvZ Athens). Players are identified by wearing bandannas–humans on either bicep, and zombies around the neck or head–and play 24 hours a day for a week. There are nightly missions that rougly follow the story created by the admins/mods. Time outside of missions is designated “free play” time; i.e., humans and zombies roam anywhere in Athens, hunting and being hunted. Humans try to survive by shooting zombies with Nerf guns, zombies tag humans to “turn” them, rinse, repeat. It’s an absolute blast. For the full rules (with helpful pictures!) you can see the Athens HvZ website.

So my story: On day one, play commences in the evening with a meeting and the first mission. I attended this with some of my nerdiest friends, shaking with nervousness and wielding only a lowly Maverick (one of the cheapest Nerf blasters available). We called ourselves Team Vakarian, in hopes that someone might mistake us for being awesome. Until now, HvZ had been something I’d been too afraid to try–I knew that I’d be terrible, and probably die right away. My goal was this: to last as a human for one measly day.

So we started out with the first mission, a straightforward affair where one group of humans–at least 50 of the 100+ people who had showed up to play–headed over the Convocation Center’s parking garage in search of some artifact (the details of the story are a little fuzzy for me after this time, but the theme was Indiana Jones, who was played brilliantly by the game’s admin). Once there, a few predetermined humans turned zombie and grabbed as many of their friends as they could before we reacted and shot them dead with our Nerf power. Cakewalk. We returned to the meeting place, and dispersed for free play.

Wandering around as a human triggers a special kind of life-or-death paranoia. It’s a strangely beautiful feeling for someone who spends most of their time in the relative security of contemporary society. That first night, we saw no action–the zombies-to-humans ratio was just too low–but we might as well have been in the middle of a war zone we were so paranoid. In time, though, the number of zombies would balloon.

For day two, free play was cancelled because the POTUS was in town, and running around with toy weaponry while the president is in the same city is just a really, really bad idea. But that night, all systems were go for mission two. Montezuma was introduced as a character in the story. Indiana Jones just kept being awesome. We spent some time trying to put together a puzzle-map of campus while the Aztec ruler shook his head at our ineptitude. Eventually, we were given a few locations where we had to go rescue human “sacrifices.” Team Vakarian joined a large group heading over to some soccer fields.

We made it to the fields, found the two (blindfolded) sacrifices, and escorted them back to the meeting place, where (gasp) the zombie horde awaited us! The horde was still pretty small at this point–no more than maybe 10 zombies–but we were ready to do battle and get our charges safely inside. The zombies were dispatched pretty quickly, but one managed to nab one of my friends, Chuck. Chuck, though, thought he had shot the zombie, so as they stood there talking about it, I thought I was safe. Not so. The zombie reached out and grabbed my wrist, mid-discussion. I was too socially maladroit to fight it, so that was it. I was dead. But, the game wasn’t over for me by a long shot.

Enter zombie Helen. The tales of zombie Helen will be posted in Part 2!

Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment!


One thought on “Reflections on a Nerdy Pastime: Part 1

  1. Pingback: Reflections on a Nerdy Pastime: Part 2 | βeta fish mag


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