HVZ: An Initiation to BV Gaming Culture 


BVU Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Leslie Haas geared up and participated in her first HVZ event.

Dr. Leslie Haas, Contributing Writer

Newb, has become synonymous with the name Haas this year!  My experience as a faculty member playing Humans versus Zombies (HVZ) continued to prove this new moniker true.  Having moved to Storm Lake, Iowa, from Dallas, Texas, our family has had to learn about the unique customs, cultures, accents and weather of rural mid-west Iowa. So, when offered the chance to play a game that seemed somewhat familiar to this urban gamer, I jumped at the chance!    

I was contacted via email by the game’s moderators (Mods) to ask if I would be interested in playing.  It was explained that I could participate as a non-player character (NPC), which would allow me to experience HVZ for a few hours, without committing to the entire weekend. This seemed like it would be a great way to get involved with students and learn more about this unusual game. 

While I did agree to play, I wasn’t given details about my role until the scheduled mission on Saturday evening.  However, as a registered player, I began receiving emails on Friday containing game information, including the game’s entertaining and detailed backstory. On Saturday afternoon, I also saw students in bandannas holding nerf guns, rolled socks, and pool noodles when I stopped by my office.  

A lover of Sci-fi/Fantasy, I was giddy with excitement by 6:30 on Saturday, when the time for my mission finally arrived.  The first step was to meet with the Mods to find out about my role as an NPC. The Mods offered detailed explanations of what to expect, as well as provided me a sock launcher and a bag of extra ammunition (rolled socks).   

Two human body guards escorted me to the mission site, and kept me safe from zombie attack, until additional guards arrived.  Once the mission was in play, it was incredibly fun to watch students, both human and zombie alike, creatively strategize how to either protect or infiltrate my position. I also had the option of protecting myself with my super cool sock launcher.  The mission ended with a human victory, and I was honestly bummed that it was over so quickly. 

At the end of the mission, the Mods, in their infinite wisdom, recognized my deep enjoyment of the game, and asked if I would like to be part of another mission.  My answer was a definite YES!  I felt like a kid picked first by the best team captain.  

The temperature dropped as the sun set, during my second mission as the NPC. While it was dark and cold, it honestly felt as though I was experiencing a real-life video game on BVU’s campus.  Much like video game raids, participants stuck together, shared resources, developed plans, and sacrificed for the greater good.  Students cheered for one another and bonded while working toward a common goal.  

Participating in HVZ provided me with the opportunity to meet students from other majors and have interesting and fun conversations. I felt privileged to be part of HVZ and would recommend it to all faculty.  You will see me with an orange bandana around my arm in the fall!