By Shannah Cotton, Assistant Editor
For one week, every semester, the role-playing game Humans versus Zombies (HvC) is played on the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) campus by 50 students on average. This year the numbers reached to almost 70 students playing.
“It’s a giant game of tag but with some intricacies involved” said Sloane Hanning, a sophomore at UMF who has just played his third semester of HvC.
The game plays for a little under a week, starting on a Friday at 6pm. Game play is 24 hours through the weekend but from Monday morning to Thursday night, the game is played from six in the morning to midnight.
First, an original zombie is randomly selected from a pool of willful volunteers. That person then can mark themselves as human long enough to tag another human, so that they both become zombies. Those two then go on to kill other humans, getting the game started.
“After the weekend, when the zombies have added a few more to their numbers, they start running missions,” said Hanning, “Everyone’s human at first and no one knows who the OZ (original zombie) is. Which is how he tags.”
Before each week-day mission there is a moderator who explains the plot that has been written for this year’s game, which is different every semester.
Noah Meldrum, former UMF student, current moderator, and writer of this year’s script, said, “Basically I’m trying to create an HVC that adds that extra layer of paranoia that you see in zombie movies.”
The Zombies meet at the amphitheater, while the humans meet outside of Merrill.
Max Wentworth, UMF sophomore, Table Gaming Club executive board member and HvC moderator dressed up in a white lab coat and procured a British accent during gameplay.
Humans versus Zombies is technically put on by the Table Gaming club, which is where any funding comes from.
“While it’s a physically active game it does have the role-playing elements that are often found in role-playing games” said Meldrum
The game of moderated tag has been played on college campuses since 2005. The first game was played at Gaucher College.
“A big part of the zombie hoard is to be intimidating because it is a psychological game after all; we are trying to scare the humans,” said Hanning, who wore a Gimp mask to missions, alongside fellow zombies wearing accessories such as bandanas, sunglasses, and zombie makeup.
Before the Monday night mission, the zombies chatted and laughed, in various degrees of accessories, at the amphitheater. “When a group of humans have survived with each other from start to finish, there’s this comradely” said Hanning, his wavy mane flowing behind him as he trotted the field with the other zombies in the half-darkness and Monday night air.
“It’s good for the campus social scene as a whole. It makes new friends and connections, and it’s just really fun” said Hanning.
“The game ends on Thursday night when we have the final mission which is very much the big finale just a couple humans left facing impossible odds so it’s a nice climax for the whole thing,” said Wentworth.