From Monday, April 5 to Friday, April 9, Northwestern’s campus turned into a playground for a giant game of tag: Humans v. Zombies. The goal of the game was for the zombies to tag every single human until there was no one left before the time runs out.
The zombies wore a red bandana around their arm, and the humans wore one around their leg. The zombies chased the humans around campus and two-hand tagged them to turn the human into a zombie. Safe-zones were inside, outside touching a door or at a NW-sponsored event. Anywhere else outside was vulnerable to a zombie attack unless the human hit them first with a sock or a foam dart which left the zombie stunned for five minutes. Once a human was tagged, their bandana moved from their leg to their arm, signaling their new alliance. Each zombie had to tag a human every 24 hours, known as feeding. If not, they were eliminated from the game. However, a fellow zombie could “feed” another player with one of their tags in order to keep them from being eliminated.
The game started off with 92 humans against 1 zombie: sophomore, Emily “Corn Nuts” Schmidt.
“It was a bit of a relief to be able to walk around campus without checking my shoulder every second,” Schmidt said. “Wearing the zombie bandana made people notice me. People who normally looked right past me either ran away in fear or they’d come up to me and ask how many tags I had gotten. It was a fun experience.”
Schmidt ended the week with 13 tags, 11 of which occurred in the first five hours of the game.
Early on, it was a frequent occurrence to be sitting at lunch or walking back from class and seeing a human bolt across campus while chased by multiple zombies. People were rarely tagged without an audience. Those tagged in front of the cafeteria had many people watching as they relinquished their human status in shame.
It was easier to characterize the humans not by the red bandana, but by the dart gun in their hands and the look of apprehension on their faces. Roommate turned upon roommate, significant others refused to see each other and lunch buddies ate alone.
Zombies who didn’t know each other teamed up on kills with a simple nod of the head. Any poor human walking alone was a target. One zombie would start after them and, with a subtle nod, another zombie would sneak around to trap them from the other side, making escape quite a feat.
By the end of the week, the remaining humans began to unionize, making it much harder to get a tag. One such group of unionized humans started a group chat they dubbed “The Renegades.” These groups rarely traveled alone and always knew where the zombies were located, making it nearly impossible to get a tag.
At the end of the week, there was no single winner. The game ended with eight zombies against 31 humans, a decisive victory for humankind. One of the last humans was Jose “Pepe” Sanchez.
“The game was a great experience. I felt like I was in a real-life video game,” Sanchez said. “It required a lot of strategy and help from others, and a lot of paranoia in a good way.”
After not having it last year, Humans v. Zombies almost doubled the participation of two years ago. The NW tradition lives on, and many are already excited to play again next year.