Chill out, HvZ players

By Dan Rahrig

We’ve all seen it – the hordes of red bandana-clad students scurrying around campus with their toy guns, yelling and signaling to each other and coordinating attacks. Humans vs. Zombies, the popular college game has returned to the University of Massachusetts Amherst yet again this semester, and it is still just as annoying as ever.

I understand that people have a lot of fun playing the game and I realize that it has come to be known as a staple of college life at many universities across the United States. But, despite its widespread popularity, I can’t say I look at it all that favorably.

I don’t see the appeal in running around campus all day looking like a fool with a piece of cloth tied around my head. I don’t understand how the people who play this game tirelessly don’t have better things to do.

We’re in college now – we have classes and homework and should be in the slow process of transitioning to adulthood. Now is not the time to be shooting one another in the head with foam darts and causing a scene. Don’t you have obligations of some kind to tend to? How would it look in the real world if a bunch of 25 year-olds were running around Boston playing with Nerf guns and sprinting through the streets? It would be intrusive, annoying and very distracting – just like it is now.

It’s not like Humans vs. Zombies is a self-contained game either – far from it. The game disrupts people who are simply trying to get to their next class or go to the dining hall. I’m tired of being pushed aside by sprinting “zombies” while I’m walking around campus. I’m sick of walking somewhere at night and having groups of people charge at me assuming that I’m playing their childish game (these kinds of things have happened to me quite a bit over the last week). If you’re going to play, do us all a favor and make sure you’re not tackling innocent people or shooting your Nerf darts at students with their iPods on who are oblivious to your obscure game – the people who are not playing are avoiding it for a reason.

And aside from how intrusive the game is for all of the students not playing, imagine how it must look to the prospective students and families who have been visiting the campus. Is the first impression of UMass we want kids to have to be one with strangely-dressed teenagers scrambling after other strangely dressed teenagers with plastic guns? I think not. On Sunday, I was walking by the Student Union and a mob of “humans” were gathered around a person with a megaphone shouting “What do we want? Brains! What do we want? Brains!” While interesting and comical, such displays would not have attracted me to UMass as a high school student, and I think it really has the potential to turn a lot of other people off, too.

I’m not trying to levy a personal attack against the people who have chosen to play this game – I’m just saying that it wouldn’t hurt to tone down the intensity a little bit. I get that you’re just having a good time and that some people get really into it – but not everyone on campus shares your enthusiasm. My problem is not with the people playing the game; it is with the way the game itself is conducted.

The other night I was walking to Central when a person lunged out at me from a tree. I had my iPod on at the time and this sudden assault scared me half to death. That kind of thing is not okay, someone could think you were legitimately attacking them. Maybe it’s unwise to play this kind of game so late at night – if you can’t see whether or not someone is wearing an armband or a headband, you should probably call it a day (and maybe do some homework?). By running amuck and throwing yourself at the first person you see, you’re asking for trouble.

If you’re having a good time, then by all means keep playing. But I think it’s time you stopped taking yourself and this game so seriously – you don’t need to run around in packs and push and shove and make a ruckus. That kind of behavior isn’t very becoming of you, and it certainly isn’t appreciated by the general population. If you can’t take it down a notch and play in an unobtrusive manner, maybe this isn’t the kind of game you should be playing. Be respectful of your fellow students – you may be obsessed with Humans vs. Zombies, but I can assure you that most people aren’t.

Dan Rahrig is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]