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Title: Zombie game comes to close

Source: BSU Daily News, 11/04/07

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Zombie game comes to close

After burning out, game participants plan next installment

Louis Jones

Three days after the activity that turned Ball State University into a feeding ground for the undead concluded prematurely, students are making plans to organize another round of the game.

Event organizers for Humans vs. Zombies, a campus-wide role-playing game involving more than 400 students, said the event was an overwhelming success because it provided a place for students from different social circles to find common ground and interact.

"People had a lot of fun," said senior Andrew Ketrow, who decided to plan the event after reading about it on a message board. "I've heard several people say that they've met people they never would have met. On a few occasions, people said it's one of the highlights of their time at Ball State."

Ketrow will hand over duties as chief organizer of the game to sophomore Adam Huston, who plans to coordinate another round of Humans vs. Zombies in March.

With a horde of three zombies and a human resistance of about 400 people, Humans vs. Zombies began at midnight on Oct. 26. Zombies, identified by green bandanas on their foreheads, attempted to tag humans, identified by green bandanas on their arms, in order to turn them into zombies. Humans could protect themselves by shooting zombies with Nerf guns and "stunning" them for 15 minutes. If tagged by a zombie, the human gave ID cards to zombies, which served as food for them. If a zombie went two days without feeding, he would die.

Throughout the game, humans were encouraged to partake in missions that got them out on campus and made them susceptible to zombie attack. During one mission, humans had to escort a scout playing the part of a scientist from one end of campus to the other. During another mission, humans had to stop a "government agent" from dropping off a box including a "nuclear weapon" at an undisclosed place on campus.

In theory, Humans vs. Zombies lasts until all humans are turned into zombies or all zombies starve. This tradition began at Goucher College in Maryland, where the game was created. But due to what Ketrow described as a "general burnt out feeling" among players, the game ended with a final mission Thursday night, nine days after it began. At the game's conclusion, about 250 members of the human alliance were turned into zombies.

Huston said it is difficult for the game to reach its natural conclusion in an atmosphere such as Ball State's.

"I think the climate at Ball State makes the game last longer because buildings [which are safe zones] are closer together, and there are so many people on campus," he said. "I don't consider it feasible to play till the last man. If we were to play like that, 99 percent of the people in the game wouldn't be having fun, and I think [having fun] is the main point."

In order to abet this problem when he coordinates the next round of Humans vs. Zombies, Huston will place a time cap of about seven days on the game and will require humans to conduct main missions every night, as well as "mini-missions," which will involve prizes.

Huston will also involve more moderators in order to resolve disputes in game play. During the past week, Ketrow spent about six hours a day resolving game disputes, he said.

Sophomore Thomas Price, who became a zombie two days after the game began, said he enjoyed the game but experienced some bad sportsmanship while playing.

"Being a zombie kind of sucked because no one wanted to die," he said. "When I tagged one guy, he put two hands on my chest and shoved me backwards and told me to get the **** away."

Price recorded 14 human kills while playing as a zombie, the third-highest kill total in the game. He said that during the next Humans vs. Zombies game, he would suggest all players be required to attend a meeting so all players will know the rules in their entirety. During the recent game, players read the rules at ajketrow.iweb.bsu.edu. The rules site also included a link to a Humans vs. Zombies database, which contains a list of all players and what team they are playing on.

Sophomore Erika Long said she enjoyed the game but became disinterested in playing as a zombie as time went on because some humans stopped wearing their bandanas as they grew tired of the game. The final mission, in which humans tried to escape from campus while zombies attacked and military snipers, played by deceased zombies, shot at both humans and zombies, was disappointing because not enough humans were involved, she said.

"The game is meant to be short, so I'm fine with it ending when it did," Long said.

Despite the difficulties the game posed, Long said she will play the next installment of Humans vs. Zombies, though she hopes the game is shorter and includes more detailed rules.

In the weeks following the game's conclusion, Huston said he will work to revise rules and make them more specific and more difficult to abuse. Rule changes include making the general smoking area outside of buildings part of the safe zone for humans. During the recent game, humans were supposed to be safe within 30 feet of buildings, a guideline that posed problems, as some players tried to measure off exact distances rather than respecting the general smoking area. The changes, Huston hopes, will improve general sportsmanship and make the next round of Humans vs. Zombies even more successful than the last.

The game
  • Humans vs. Zombies involved more than 400 students
  • Zombies wore green bandanas on their foreheads, and humans wore their green bandanas on their arms
  • Humans could "stun" the zombies for 15 minutes by shooting them with Nerf guns
  • If tagged by a zombie, the human must surrender his ID card as food
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