Janelle Cammenga—Staff Writer
Students sprint between public buildings. Green cloth shows up all over campus. Teachers sense an inexplicable animal instinct demonstrating itself in students. Socks fly.
It must be the annual Humans vs. Zombies competition.
“Zombies versus humans is my favorite week of the whole year,” said junior Megan Van Den Berg. “You’re always nervous of people. Is that a zombie? Is that a human? And then you see a human and it’s like a silent victory.” She spent three days last week trying to survive Dordt’s zombie apocalypse—and succeeded.
Humans vs. Zombies is an ultra-intense version of tag, in which tagged players turn into zombies and in turn aim to infect others. The only safe places? Dorm rooms and bathrooms, and public buildings. The only weapon? Rolled-up socks.
Luke Gilliland took this year’s top zombie spot at 17 kills, and Jonathan DeBruin won top human by earning 25 points and making it to the Gift statue first during the final mission.
While Van Den Berg felt pretty safe for most of the game—there is less participation in the apartments, after all—she had a close call while walking to her car.
“I heard someone scream, ‘Look, she’s a human!’” Van Den Berg said. She leapt into her car and locked the doors just before zombies started pounding on the windows.
Participation is most action-packed in the underclassmen male dorms. This makes sense, since that is where everything started seven years ago. It has since expanded to include anyone on campus, but it was originally only a male dorm event.
The player pool isn’t the only thing that has changed over the years. HvZ used to stretch over a whole week, but Student Services shortened it when they saw enthusiasm consistently drop after the first 2 days. The competition has gotten more high tech: All players and points are tracked in a spreadsheet. Live updates let players stay connected with the game’s progress.
The player dynamic also changes.
“No one jumped off buildings this year,” Van Den Berg said. “But there were some freshmen who really got into it. They were going hard.”
Derek Buteyn, Director of Student Life, said that general participation has been fairly consistent. He believes that RA enthusiasm plays a big part in its success.
He has never played, but enjoys watching it happen and hearing about escapades. “I’ll be sitting in my office and see people booking it down the hill,” he said. “You get people staying in the bathrooms for four hours, people jumping out of windows—although I should say that that’s not ok.”
He shared that Austin Lindemulder, the Learning Community Area Coordinator, has plans to add different prizes and tweak the point system to encourage participation past the first day.
Buteyn’s favorite part of the game is the missions. “It creates an extra dimension other than just staying alive,” he said. “It gets people out of their rooms.”
A lot of work goes on behind the scenes before the games can begin. There’s a spreadsheet to set up, a webpage to sync to the spreadsheet, tags to create and print, and green flag upon green flag to cut out.
Both Buteyn and Van Den Berg see HvZ as beneficial for Dordt’s campus community.
“It bonds different people,” Van Den Berg said. “They’re just ready to attack at all times, and I think that’s good.”