Nighttime is the time to get a dose of adrenaline
All across campus, the darkness camouflages hoards of young adults chasing one another and vigilantly defending themselves with Nerf darts and rolled-up socks; the moonlight and dim streetlamps are their only source of light. If that sounds like a childish game, Humans vs Zombies (HvZ) members would agree with you. HvZ members are not known for taking themselves seriously.
“People think we’re all a bunch of awkward dorks—and they’re right—but they don’t quite seem to have the right impression. We’re just out here having fun. I refuse to pretend that fun things (like Nerf) stopped being fun just because I got older,” says Joe Fusco `21, physics.
While many members have described HvZ as a glorified game of tag, there is a lot more to it than that, the members explain. “An average mission starts with a briefing where we learn about our mission and what we’re expected to do in order to win. Most people start ‘human’ but some start ‘zombie.’ Humans start strong and more often than not, human victory feels like it’ll be a piece of cake,” notes Henry Denny ’23, mechanical engineering, “but slowly but surely the horde grows and usually the zombies come out on top. That way, everyone gets to win because everyone is a zombie at that point.”
HvZ has a long legacy on campus—they’ve been playing for more than a decade. The group usually has two different night missions a week and no matter if there’s rain, sleet, or snow, the members show up. Additionally, they run Saturday games, missions that span across other colleges, and three “week-longs” a semester (24/7 week-long missions). Members are constantly improving the gameplay to make the game more fun and interesting for newcomers.
Kyle Mosier ’20, computer science and mathematics, M.S. ’22 computer science, describes one instance where a member gave some Nerf equipment to President Freeman Hrabowski, who just happened to be walking around at night. President Hrabowski did not miss a beat and used the stunner to get a player, he says.
HvZ is a close-knit club for everyone. Mosier talks about how even during quarantine, his on-campus experience wasn’t isolating like it might have been for others. He describes the importance of having a group of friends to eat with several times a day and how important it was for him to have that community. HvZ’s fast-paced environment doesn’t give newcomers a chance to feel awkward, Mosier adds. If they feel overwhelmed it is only because they are hoping to keep up with veteran players.
Nerf equipment isn’t even necessary—some players use socks as a way to keep incognito or because they don’t have the proper equipment, and despite many people’s assumptions, they do try to pick up the Nerf darts after a mission. “We pick up 99 percent of them, but a few manage to hide in shadows or the grass.” says Nick Molyneaux ‘21, mechanical engineering.
Even after the missions are complete, it doesn’t mean everything is over. They often head over to D-Hall (as their human selves, not their zombie selves) for non-brain-related snacks and to tell stories from the night and club lore, stories that have been passed down from years ago.
What do you want to do next?
How to find HvZ: HvZ Website, Links to Facebook and Discord here: https://umbchvz.com/