Humans Versus Zombies: A Giant Game of Tag

Opinions_11-15_Dembkoski_NERF_Jess C


Kaetlyn Dembkoski
Staff Writer

You might have heard about us from the campus emails, warning of our arrival. Perhaps you may have seen us donning blasters, socks and orange bandanas. Humans Versus Zombies (HvZ) had its first game on campus in the fall of 2009. Students from all corners of UNCG came together, armed with their best Nerf blasters and prepared to fight the horde that threatened our beautiful campus. For the most part, we’ve fought our battles between each other, but since we began playing, we’ve been challenged by another opponent: non-players.

In the nine years we’ve been playing, we’ve been shut down, forced to use non-Nerf blasters and even had our game cut short due to paperwork issues. HvZ functions like any other sport: we have rules and boundaries, and we reprimand any who break those rules. While we strive to have fun, our moderators and enforcers make sure that every rule is followed. Despite lugging around large blasters and looking tough, our players are extremely friendly and perhaps some of the most welcoming people you’ll ever meet.

Since we began, HvZ has built a negative connotation from the campus due to our equipment. However, our blasters should not cause any concern. Our bright neon blue, green, and orange colored blasters only resemble guns in their functions. We also prohibit the usage of particularly dangerous blasters that have been modded in any way. The moderators will test it on each other and then turn the blaster on you to hit you with it. The test is that if you do not want that blaster being fired on you or it hurts too much, you can’t use it.

As I mentioned before, we were shut down once before. In the spring of 2010, only our second game, an incident involving a student that climbed a building and fired on other players did force the Dean of Students to shut our game down. Immediately,we sought to talk with campus about considering a return for the next semester. Eventually, the campus agreed to give our game another chance, but on very specific conditions.

The campus informed us that we could return but we needed to have stricter rules about acceptable play zones. They also had another requirement. It was at this point that marshmallow blasters were introduced. Only during actual missions were our players allowed to use Nerf blasters, while the other hours of the day we were only permitted to use socks and marshmallow blasters. Just as soon as they arrived, we were told to retire the marshmallow blasters. Despite being a safer look, the sticky remains were not as appreciated.

Many people were against the idea of us returning after the building incident, regardless if we used marshmallow blasters. However, since those crazy first few years, we’ve become a more stable game. HvZ may just be a game to someone on the outside, but after enough time around everyone, you eventually settle in and feel like you belong. After just a week together, despite starting the week as strangers, we finish the final mission and then celebrate with homemade brownies and a late-night Waffle House trip.

Despite this, there are still many who are hesitant about HvZ. To those who are concerned, remember that we’re just playing a game. In spite of all obstacles, HvZ has continued to run strong with two games every year, one per semester. HvZ has been growing with more new players who will eventually become the storytellers and guides for the next groups.  Rather than create distance from HvZ and its wonderful players, consider joining the upcoming game in the spring. Plans have already gone underway for its story and we’ll happily welcome you to the family.

Categories: Columns, Opinions


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