If the five-star academics, lively social scene and top-notch athletic program haven’t yet instilled in you an obnoxious sense of Penn State pride, add this to the roster – one of the most zombie-friendly campuses in the country.
That’s right – according to Craig Boyd, Penn State alum and director of the 2014 Penn State Humans vs. Zombies Invitational, Dear Old State is a school near and dear to the Humans vs. Zombies community of the East Coast.
On Saturday, April 5th Penn State’s Urban Gaming Club will be hosting its fifth day-long HVZ invitational since 2007. The “extreme, glorified game of tag” is set to take place on campus between 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. with an expected turnout of around 400 players from 25 different schools.
Using arm and headbands to distinguish between the humans and zombies – green for humans, orange for zombies – the participants will have to complete a series of missions (Boyd warns players to be weary of the “15 minutes late to Starbucks” challenge) using Nerf “blasters” to tag their opponents with balled-up socks and marshmallows, intended to simulate the “melee weapons” humans would use in a real-life zombie apocalypse.
It’s a well-known fact that the humans rarely ever win the invitational.
“The best the humans at Penn State have ever achieved was a technical tie – and I stress the word ‘technical,’” jokes Boyd – but that shouldn’t discourage you! “When you become a zombie, you haven’t lost the game, you’ve just joined the winning side.”
HVZ is unique to other sporting events in that it’s a simulation which requires extensive strategy in order to come out on top. “The fun doesn’t come from winning the game, it comes from playing the game.”
As invitational director this year, in addition to writing the game, coordinating with other schools and dealing with administration and law enforcement, Boyd says “I definitely try to get players into the mindset. It’s about providing a story, a setting, a scenario.”
Humans vs. Zombies events have become popular on an international scale not only for their unique and challenging format, but also for the sense of community that comes with organizing and participating in them.
“I’ve made a lot of close friends from other schools through this,” says Boyd, explaining that for some participants, this is the only time of the year they get to see their fellow HVZ community members.
According to Boyd, the HVZ community isn’t a closed-off cult of doomsday preppers, but rather a growing demographic of people who want to engage in an activity outside the norm that plays on basic human fears and instincts.
“It gets back to our primal instincts of being the hunter or being the hunted,” he says.
“Everyone is a little bit of a nerd,” says Boyd, and when you think back on all those hours spent reading Harry Potter fan-fiction or watching your favorite guilty-pleasure show, it’s hard to deny your inner-dork, whatever that means to you.
For any Penn Staters interested in letting their freak-flag fly and joining in on the experience for the first time, Boyd advises you “stick with your group, don’t overdo it on your gear, have fun and don’t take it too seriously.”
Oh and, “Run faster.”
Want to be a part of the 2014 Humans vs. Zombies Invitational? You can still register until the day of the event here. For more information check out the Urban Gaming website or the HVZ Facebook page.
Photo by Jessi Korch