Humans vs. Zombies

Modern take on game of tag sweeping campuses nationwide


There were only 12 humans left.

The zombies were out there somewhere, waiting to pounce in the dark. Exhausted, the small troop of humans gathered together before they risked it all. They knew the odds were not in their favor, but there was no going back.

Their mission? A student with a fake broken leg was waiting in the Dell. They must carry her to Presser Hall. Zombies waited, eager to tag the humans and turn them into their own.

The stakes were high. If the humans completed the assigned task, they earned a new safe zone—a valuable place to relax where no zombies could attack. If they failed, the game was over.

Carrying the student, they made their way through the muck of a construction site near Norfolk Avenue. From somewhere in the darkness, they heard the first shout.

“There they are!” Zombies swarmed down the hill, rushing the small group of survivors.

Quickening their pace and doing their best to ward off their attackers with Nerf darts, the humans raced toward their destination, reaching Presser Hall with no casualties.

“We didn’t lose a single human on that mission,” said Nick Gentile ’11, one of the surviving humans in the first Randolph College game of Humans vs. Zombies. “It’s amazing how you are able to pull together effectively with people you don’t really know and get a job done. We were pretty impressed with ourselves that we were able to assess the situation, make a plan, and follow through.”

Humans vs. Zombies is a game of moderated tag that has become increasingly popular on college campuses since it was created in 2005 at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. During the game, a group of human players attempts to survive a zombie outbreak by outsmarting the growing group of zombie players. The game has been played at more than 200 colleges and universities across the nation.

Randolph College joined the mix last fall when students organized the first game on campus—after receiving approval from College administrators and carefully constructing rules to be respectful of safety and of the Honor Code.

“It was great to see a student-organized event generate so much excitement and positive energy on campus,” said Sarah Swager, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “Those watching the game had almost as much fun as the students who were playing. This was a creative and fun way to bring students together.”

More than 60 students participated in the first game, which proved so popular that another game was scheduled for March. This time, the rules were revised slightly and included a special section allowing for play by faculty and staff. More than 50 students signed up for the three-day spring game.

Organizers hope to see the game expand even more in the future.

“It’s such an off-the-wall thing,” said Laura Allan ’10, one of the student organizers. “During the first game, a lot of people saw it as it was going on and saw how much fun we were having, and they wanted to do it too.”

During a Human vs. Zombies game, everyone starts off as human, except for a single “secret” zombie. Humans wear the neon-colored bandanas on their arms, while the zombies wear the bandanas on their heads. The secret zombie begins the game by tagging the humans—like a kindergarten game of tag. Once tagged, a human has an hour before they officially “turn” and join the zombie group. Humans are allowed to carry Nerf guns with soft, foam darts, which “stun” the zombies for 15 minutes. The point of the game is to survive as a human the entire game. Safe zones, within which humans cannot be tagged, are scattered throughout campus, and game play is carefully managed to avoid classrooms, to observe quiet hours, and to be respectful of others on campus.

“The game brought together students who might not have otherwise met,” said Chris Zielewski ’11, another student organizer. “It’s something everyone can relate to in some way. It’s a stress reliever. It gets you outside running around, and it’s just fun. Students spent countless hours holding out together with people they had never talked to, had never seen, and had never had a reason to associate with before. You got to know people in a different way, and you made close friends. It was a great experience.”