Zombies Invade the Dakota State Campus

If you see a group of Dakota State University students and faculty wandering around the campus with vacant looks on their faces, it isn't because of their college workloads. The students and faculty are part of the 101 participants in the game Humans versus Zombies.

Human versus Zombies is a game of moderated tag commonly played on college campuses. A group of human players attempts to survive a zombie outbreak by outsmarting a growing group of zombie players. The game started on a college campus in 2005 and has since grown nationwide and in several foreign countries.

All participants start out as humans, except one, chosen at random, who was designated as Patient Zero. DSU players are identified with white bandanas tied either to an arm or leg. Once the game begins, Patient Zero starts to spread the zombie infection across campus by touching or tagging other participants. If a player is touched by a zombie, the white bandana moves above the shoulders to the head or neck. Humans can escape the zombies by stunning them with Nerf darts or rolled up socks. Those who encounter a zombie and are not tagged become known as survivors.

Students make their way between classes and buildings on campus, trying to avoid an encounter with a zombie. Senior Alex Wollman, a computer science and math major from Huron and a member of the DSU Gaming Club, is a survivor. "My friend [fellow DSU student Galen Farah] started the game on campus, and I went along just to be supportive of him," says Wollman. Then he started playing in earnest, and now updates his Facebook page with zombie sightings and uses it to call for rescue when cornered by zombies. It's all in good fun, says Wollman. "It's like an adult version of tag, and the more DSU students are playing, the more fun it's become."

Even those not actually playing are getting into the spirit of the game. Kathy Engbrecht, an instructor in the College of Business and Information Systems, says it has been fun watching the students running across campus and interacting with one another in a new way. "Before I knew much about the game, I asked one of my students in class what was going on, and it sparked an entire discussion about the gaming concept and how it promotes social activities," said Engbrecht.

There are a series of rules to keep the game from becoming disruptive. Survivors are safe in buildings; no weapons may be used indoors; no classes may be disrupted; and survivors may not be infected while at work. The game officially began on campus February 9 and will continue until one side or the other wins. According to the Humans versus Zombies DSU Chapter Facebook page, as of this morning, the humans were still on top.

Last Updated: 1/12/12