The zombie virus has recently infected pop culture and has since successfully spread to SF State. From comic books to video games, students can’t seem to get enough of the undead.
For some students, watching the zombie apocalypse on the big screen isn’t enough excitement. They need to be in the middle of the action. This is where HvZ: SFSU (Humans Vs. Zombies) pops in. On average, the HvZ: SFSU crew sees about 30-40 players per game, but had a record-breaking game of about 80 players this past September. Games happen monthly when school is in session.
The live-action game is essentially a glorified game of tag, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously — whether you’re a zombie or a human.
“The humans — you play the role of a survivor, you’re living the horror movie or video game that you love to play so much and the zombies — you get to scare the hell out of people. It’s very fun. Paranoia is a lot of the game,” Nathaniel Dizon, communications major and HvZ moderator, said.
Paranoia gets the best of some participants: “One time we had a human that panicked so much, he just threw his gun on the ground like ‘Screw this!’ and he just ran,” Patrick Fisher, participant and moderator, said.
Humans are allowed to carry Nerf guns or other foam “weapons” to protect them from zombies. Each participant wears a bandana: zombies, on their heads and humans, anywhere else on the body that’s visible. Humans are given missions with goals to complete while being hunted by zombies. As in the real world, ammo is limited and if a human is “attacked” by a zombie, he then becomes a zombie also.
English major and HvZ moderator Ricki Herrera was the first to discover the game, which he researched and then pitched to Dizon. The two then modified the original game to meet their needs, which has now grown into HvZ: SFSU.
“I think people really like our games because they’re mission-oriented. They have things to do and they always have a goal to accomplish,” Herrera said.
The events alternate monthly between day and night games, both of which have their highlights.
“The day games are much easier to plan, they’re easier to clean up, easier to get everyone together — the night games are a little more difficult, but the night games are definitely a lot more horrifying,” Dizon said.
Both the human and zombie characters have their highlights, and it’s more of a personal preference for each player.
“I am staunchly human. I’ve been deathly terrified of zombies since I was 13. I’m a big guy so I’m kind of a slow runner, but I’m also a pretty good shot, so I always prefer being human,” participant Justice Boles said.
Some players enjoy running around, scaring and “attacking” the humans instead, though.
“I typically choose zombies because I’m somewhat good at bringing my favorite aspect to the other players. It’s usually my goal to make the human players feel as much like they’re in a real zombie apocalypse as possible, because I know that’s the feeling I’d like to have,” participant Eric Anderson said.
After each event, the moderators hold a small Q&A session where they take input from players on how to improve the game.
“We always take the opinions of the players, what’s good or bad or how we can change it, what they liked — we always take that into consideration for the next game so that it’s a better experience,” Fisher said.
If a participant finds new ideas later on, the Facebook group page is open for more player input to voice what they think would make the game better. Dizon and Herrera go through each idea and decide what works and what doesn’t.
“There’s a big element of trial-and-error to these games because we’re always trying new things,” Herrera said.
The next game is set to take place this Saturday, Feb 23. Players are asked to RSVP on the Facebook event page and meet at Malcolm X Plaza at 7 p.m.