Humans versus Zombies (HvZ) is a game often played on campus over the period of a week where participating students fight against each other using Nerf weapons, marshmallows, and socks. Everyone in the game wears a certain color bandana, orange for regular players and blue for moderators here at Bluffton. Humans typically wear their bandana on their arm or leg while zombies wear their bandana on their head. A week before the game starts two HvZ meetings are held for those that want to participate in which the rules are established and leaders are chosen. The game starts out with one original zombie in most cases, known as the “O.Z.”, which for most of the first day looks like a “human”. Once that player tags other human players those players turn into zombies. During the week players play through the day and have a mission each night. The goal of the week for the zombies is to turn all humans and the goal of the humans is to survive until the end of the game. There are many people on campus that look forward to this game each semester while others wish it did not occur at all.
When asked about his opinion, one teacher, Alex Sider, brought up the fact that “this is a Mennonite college with a historical emphasis on pacifism.” He then goes on to say “We take this heritage very seriously. For example, we do not even teach our criminal justice majors about firearms. Why, then, we think that a game trumps our pacifist heritage, so that students can freely run around campus with simulated weapons is beyond me.” With these statements he does make a point. Since this is a Mennonite campus some might expect all occurrences related to the school to be based on peaceful themes and weapons, even simulated, in general stand for the opposite of peace. Another professor, Jeff Gundy, commented “though as a good Mennonite I’m a little queasy about the violent overtones of the game, mainly I think it’s good clean fun and nobody gets hurt. It’s a lot better free-time activity than breaking down lamp posts or some other things I could name, surely!” This is also true. Although there are simulated weapons there is no actual violence in the game and players are reminded to treat others, as well as the campus, with respect.
Of course teachers are going to have opinions of the game as it applies to their students and the University in general but how do the students on campus feel about the game? One student, Lauren Bowerman, who chooses not to participate in this game states her reasons “I think that having fun is a big thing about college, and as a senior, I realize that the real world is fast approaching and when will I ever be able to have fun like this again? However a week of running around campus hitting people with Nerf darts, swords and other objects, is a bit much. I mean, isn’t it hard to enjoy company with your friends, when you are running from them all week? I feel that while it is important to have fun in college, Humans vs. Zombies is a week-long distraction from classes, work, and other social events.” Is this game a bit much for students on a college level that have other problems to worry about? Running from friends all week would seem like a lack of community rather than instilling that aspect of Bluffton’s reputation. Jared Hudson who is not only a player in the game but also a moderator states the opposite “I can’t think of another time someone will see freshman and seniors, jocks and nerds, students and graduates all working together for the sake of fun and sportsmanship. HvZ not only unites the Bluffton community, but promotes health and exercise, and best of all generates new relationships with friends that may have not been made otherwise.” If these statements are true then the game would seem to be a good addition to the campus. He then ends his quote by saying “This didn’t come about because a club was made and given funding; HvZ started because a group of friends wanted to have fun and welcomed anyone who wished to join with open arms.”
Some people find positive aspects of the game that make it great for our campus and it’s community while others find that it goes against Bluffton’s structure and is an unnecessary distraction from the more important aspects of the school. I am sure this game affects everyone on campus during the week it is played, whether you’re a teacher, player, or non-player student. Your perspective of the game and background will likely influence how you feel about it. Now that you have heard both sides has it changed your view?