Passing Off the Nerf Blaster 


Sarah Mackey, Contributing Writer

The sun quietly rose above a cold, snow-covered campus on April 20. The air was calm, and hardly a soul could be seen before the clock struck a double-digit number of hours. Many unsuspecting bystanders were completely unaware of the chaos set to ensue at precisely 12:00 p.m. The apocalypse had arrived, and not all would survive that fateful day. 

Humans vs. Zombies (HVZ) is a beloved tradition at Buena Vista University, and among many other colleges and universities. HVZ is a campus-wide game of tag that lasts an entire weekend. Each semester, the game begins with one Original Zombie. Slowly, the cohort of human players are tagged, one-by-one, to join their undead counterparts. Critical missions are completed throughout the duration of the game and culminate in one last grandiose stand on Sunday afternoon, where the fate of the human race is decided. 

I began serving as a Moderator for HVZ during the spring semester of 2017 with my good friend, Hunter Schmitt. Together, we moderated our last game of HVZ this past fall semester with our hand selected successors, Mel Graf and Glenn Hackbarth. As stressful as running around campus armed with nothing more than a nerf blaster and a few rolled socks to defend your humanhood for three days straight can be, moderating is its own beast. An incredible amount of planning goes into such a large event with typical fall semesters totaling over 100 participants. Prizes and food are given throughout the game with generous funding from various offices of the university. 

One of the most exciting parts to plan is the storyline. If you’re planning the apocalypse, the best way to go is the most theatrical. Hunter and I would spend multiple weekends leading up to the game plotting the game and planning missions to create an incredible story to lead the players through. It could be grueling, often tedious work, but the community created by a game of Humans vs. Zombies was always worth it. Players come from all ends of campus: from theatre majors to baseball players; computer nerds to track runners; everywhere beyond and in between. HVZ brings unexpected groups of people together, and that in itself is a priceless outcome. 

Last weekend, I participated as a player in HVZ for the second time in my life. The transition from Moderator to player was quite the ride. Instead of spending the weeks leading up to the game completing paperwork and planning grunt work, I made a quick trip to Walmart the night before to purchase a pack of socks to stun whatever zombies were to come my direction. Instead of rolling around campus on a razor scooter and a walkie talkie settling disputes, I quietly lurked around campus completing missions with my small squadron of friends. 

The game itself was well-executed, and as expected, I had the time of my life chaotically running around campus donning an orange bandana with my best friends for the last time. Working with Mel and Glenn last semester, it was clear they had a passion for the game and creating a multidimensional experience for anyone brave enough to participate. They took the reins by themselves this semester, and I couldn’t have been more proud.  

It’s a strange experience turning something over to your successors, but I am confident that HVZ rests in good hands with Mel and Glenn. But be warned, it certainly doesn’t rest in safe hands. I have a strong feeling the apocalypse will be upon us again soon.