I had a totally different post written for today, but something just made me angry.
Today is the middle of one of the most combative weeks at my college. Twice a year, my tech school joins the blooming few colleges and universities in the nation that host a game of Humans vs. Zombies, endearingly known as HvZ.
If you’ve never had the honor of playing or being around one of these games, it’s quite an operation they have running. At least here, the game consists of nearly three hundred players, as well as admins and mods. The game-play lasts for one week, with nightly missions encouraging all players to get involved.
The basis of it is this: there’s a zombie apocalypse and someone has been infected. They then try to infect other humans and spread the virus. The goal of zombies is to convert all the humans. The goal of humans is to remain human and keep the spread of the virus in check until the last mission.
In order to run the game, our mods and admins created a website with a database of player information. This includes each player’s name, status – human or zombie, when they were tagged as zombie, how many tags they have, when they will starve out, and how many badges (kind of like achievements) they have earned.
As you can imagine, this is a complex system. It gets even more complicated when they throw in antivirus – meaning a select few turned zombies can become cured, and potentially be tagged again as a zombie. Throw in the system of clans and a map of where people get tagged, and it all equals one huge project for a two-week-a-year game.
Sounds like a lot of work, but for the players it’s a breeze. Each carries an ID card with a name and picture. Humans wear green bandanas around their arms and zombies where the same on their heads. When a zombie tags a human (a literal tag with the hand) the human tells the zombie their own tag code, which the zombie puts into the system and voila, one new zombie for the horde!
On the human side, they get to run around trying to complete complex missions or maybe even just get to the dining hall or class without getting tagged. So they carry protection. A human can stun a zombie (knock them out of play for fifteen minutes) with a sock ball or Nerf dart.
The rules are a little more complicated than that, but all in all it sounds like fun right?
Of course it sounds like a great time to you and me. We love this kind of thing. Zombie movies? Zombie games? And imagine it coming to life on your college campus. Pretty sweet, huh?
The problem isn’t the people like us who love it; it’s the people who don’t. I go to a tech school (read: geek school) but some of the students here refuse to admit it. My school has the word “technology” in its name. It becomes tough to deny that we’re full of gamers.
However, some students just flat out hate the game, and that’s where this week becomes combative. Students here can’t fight back with normal methods. Instead, yesterday morning someone hacked into the HvZ website and set everything back to hour zero. That means no recorded tags, no zombies, everything lost. Not forever, of course, because like I said, tech school. They had back-ups.
As if that’s not bad enough, today I found a Facebook group dedicated to trying to ban the game from campus. A group of haters determined a list of reasons why the game should be shut down. This list included things like noise and the pollution of socks and Nerf darts littering the campus.
Sure the game is a little noisy. It’s a little crazy. But it’s fun. It gives kids – who otherwise might not even bother to leave their dorm rooms for anything other than class – something to do outside, with others. This average student here isn’t social, but this game gives them that chance. People make friends. Inside buildings, zombies and humans hang out together, peacefully.
It gives students a chance to unwind. Our schedules are grueling. I know I have days where all I do is sit in the library with homework. The game gives geeks like us a chance to be in a different world for a brief moment of our mundane busy lives.
A student might struggle to pull C grades in his classes, but he can outrun a horde of zombies and deliver the anti-virus to the scientist single-handedly. Someone may be rejected and laughed out of every fraternity on campus, but when he’s a zombie, he has an entire horde of followers lingering on his every word, waiting for the signal to strike. It gives normal college geeks the chance to imagine for a short time that we aren’t just students.
But it makes our school look geeky. It makes us look dumb, childish, immature. Isn’t that the root of it all? People complain because they are embarrassed. They are ashamed that anyone attending their prestigious college would sink so low as to enjoy themselves playing a game. It’s an insult to gamers and geek culture everywhere. Even as a non-player, I simply can’t stand silently and let anyone destroy something that makes fellow geeks so happy.