September 22, 2006

C.U. Students Organize 'Zombies vs. Humans'

Print More

If any of the dorms are feeling antisocial this year, Cornell students may have come up with just the remedy. Rather than forced floor meetings and activities, there is now a campus-wide game of Zombies vs. Humans, complete with nerf guns, balled up socks, and green bandanas.

Last semester, the game became so involved that there was a nighttime service car for people coming back from prelims who didn’t want to get “tagged” on their way home. The game organizers had to meet with various authorities including a lawyer and the Cornell police before receiving the approval to proceed with the game. This year, however, organizer Henry Mason ’08 hopes to “have people relax a little.”

Zombies vs. Humans is essentially a huge, campus-wide game of tag in which members are divided into two teams and must attack and defend against members of the opposite team.

While the specific rules are complicated, the premise is simple: to be the last man standing and help your team. Mason claims that the trick to the game is the simple idea of strength in numbers: most people find groups to move around campus with, since they tend to be harder to tag than individuals.

Such a system makes the game especially appealing for its strong social aspect.

“It’s great for community building in dorms because it creates paranoia but also has you looking out for people,” Mason said.

Others, like Chini Mukhopadhyay ’08 who played the game last semester, agree.

“It’s a great game to meet people you haven’t met before. I had a lot of fun and know most of the people now.” Mukhopadhyay said, who jokingly added, “It really ups your facebook stalking skills.”

With the way the rules are set up, this certainly seems to be the case. Zombies must “tag” all of the members of the “Human” team, thus recruiting them to the Zombie team by lightly touching any part of their body. Humans have a chance to defend against Zombie attacks by using nerf guns or balled up socks. The rules become more complex with missions, potential Zombie starvations, feedings, and designated safe zones.

Most of the social interactions occur when a player gets tagged, according to Alex Morgia ’08, who said that he met a lot of people who would follow him into dining halls in hopes of stalking a potential kill for their team.

The game has other benefits. It seems that many claim the game is addictive and begins to take over much of your normal interactions after a while.

“Going outside is always an adventure,” Mukhopadhyay said, adding there is a significant change in her daily routine while playing the game.

Mukhopadhyay is not the only one who has become so dedicated to the game. Morgia is now helping to organize it while studying abroad for the semester. Mason has also taken on the arduous task of revamping the website to include a map function of where people live and where they get tagged. This new feature has taken him a few weeks and over 20 hours of spare time to complete, he added.

The conception for Zombies vs. Humans was borrowed from Goucher College in Maryland, after reading a post online about the rules. Afterwards, four or five organizers began to plan a similar game for Cornell, with about 285 players, according to Morgia. Now, the organizing team has expanded to over ten people, and the planners hope that at least 500 people will sign up by the Fall Break deadline.

The game has already had one incident involving the Cornell police due to a misunderstanding. Morgia was following members of the Human team near the Alumni House on North Campus and was mistaken for someone in great distress and possibly in trouble. Eventually, the final resolution of the incident allowed the game to continue as long as common sense was used.

More information about the game is available at