Zombies, humans wage war on campus
Published: Monday, May 24, 2010
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 23:06
As the lightning flashed and thunder clapped, Ohio State students and staff watched a zombie horde devour a fellow human, who slipped and fell.
It was a wet day last Wednesday, which added to chaos that ensued until Monday when the sun parted the threatening clouds and the zombies were subdued.
The organizers of Humans vs. Zombies used Facebook to message interested students to participate in the game that pitted Nerf gun-armed, sock ball-wielding humans against zombies. To an uneducated observer, the game loosely resembles tag.
However, the rules of the game were well-thought-out. So was the story line, which provided a reason to stay away from the zombies.
According to the story line, the zombies came from Michigan after President E. Gordon Gee enlisted OSU scientists to create a virus to eradicate Michigan once and for all.
However, the virus spread out of control.
"I would never blame Gee! No one likes Michigan to begin with, right?" said Noah Lemire, a first-year in electrical and computer engineering and part of the resistance against the zombies.
The Rage Virus was supposedly spread by a bite and targeted humans. It brought them to a primitive form: a brutal, uncivilized, brain-hungry cannibal.
OSU, realizing its deadly mistake, brought the Michigan zombies to the OSU Medical Center for treatment, according to the story line.
But there was one snag, someone left the cattle door open, and the zombies escaped.
As a result, the U.S. Military was forced to quarantine OSU campus along West Lane Avenue to North High Street to West 11th Avenue to Neil Avenue to 12th Avenue to the Olentangy River.
Hannah Solomon, a second-year in anthropology, was listening to the quarantine announcement in the South Oval amphitheater, when the girl next to her began acting odd.
"She was the one (the zombie) who ended up getting me," Solomon said.
Solomon was still mostly human during the hourlong latency period of the virus, but after the hour, she adopted the ability to convert ordinary humans to bloodthirsty zombies by tagging them.
"Losing my humanity wasn't particularly nice," she said.
At the start of the game Wednesday, there were 62 humans to one zombie, but given the ease with which zombies convert to humans, the zombies' disadvantage quickly disappeared.
By Thursday morning, there were 14 zombies, and by Saturday afternoon, there were 147 zombies, according to the Humans vs. Zombies website.
Humans wore yellow-orange armbands, and zombies wore yellow-orange headbands.
Early on, zombies blended in with the humans.
"Paranoia (went) a long way in keeping you on the human side," said Michael Geletka, a first-year in biomedical engineering.
But paranoia would not be enough for Geletka.
Walking back to his dorm, three zombies spotted him in front of the Ohio Union.
He ran and his hat blew off. Electing to save his hat, he went to retrieve it.
The zombies then sprinted toward him, closed the gap and caught him.
Humans had two primary weapons, Nerf guns and sock balls, both of which only stunned zombies. There was no way to kill a zombie.
The Nerf guns were not used until after noon Friday, when the government brought in supplies, according to the story line.
In the course of the game, participants showcased Nerf gun technology, from Nerf machine guns to sniper rifles.
"My weapon of choice is a Nerf Raider, with its large magazine size of 35, it has the ability to shred a wave of zombies as long as it is used properly," said Kyle Clason, a third-year in zoology.
Clason carried a sidearm, the Nerf Maverick, in case his Raider jammed. Both were modified for better shooting.
"The unsung hero of zombie survival is most definitely the sock," Clason said.
Clason did not make it through the zombie apocalypse. He was lost to the zombie horde during a battle to protect OSU scientists.
The rain fell hard, making it difficult to use the Nerf guns, but the wet sock balls were heavier and proved to be more lethal.
The game also had moderators, who wore lime green armbands or bandanas, to help coordinate missions. Some played when they were not moderating.
But nobody involved was safe from the zombie attacks, including moderators.
E-mails were sent to the humans and zombies to inform them of the missions, said Emily Cason, Humans vs. Zombies treasurer, a second-year in biomedical science and moderator-turned-zombie.
The missions kept the game going.
"Getting humans to get out, talk to people, get distracted and get zombified is never a bad thing," said Brian Barrett, website technician and first-year mechanical engineering student.
There were three conditions on which the game could be won: if all the humans became zombies, all the zombies starved to death or if humans survived to the end.
The game ended with 199 humans and 146 zombies. Thirty-two zombies starved to death.
It cost $1 to play, and the money went primarily to armbands. The team is on its way to becoming an official student organization. If and when it becomes one, registration will be free, Barrett said.
The players were not the only people having fun at the event.
"I can tell you right now that I am amazed with the response we have received from non-players during this game," said Paul Gruenbacher, president of Humans vs. Zombies and a second-year in biology.
People cheered from the sidelines for humans and zombies alike.
If enough people are interested, there are plans to have two games a year during Fall and Spring quarters.