By Carol Moran

Photos by Jesse Oney

Fortified with neon-colored plastic Nerf guns and sock grenades, humans walked with caution last week at Stony Brook University, only traveling in groups of five or more, glancing over their shoulders in an uneasy manner. Zombies lurked around corners, behind bushes, under tables. They yearned for human blood. Forty-eight hours without feeding, and in would creep death.

It all started when a dog infected with a mutated swine flu strand bit a human, creating the first zombie. With no remedy in existence, humans’ only hope for survival was avoidance and escape. Any contact with a Nerf dart or a sock grenade, and zombies were stunned for 15 minutes, giving their prey just enough time to slip away.

It’s a fantastically realistic game invented by two students, Chris Weed and Brad Sappingtonat, at Goucher College in Maryland. Humans Vs. Zombies, as it is called, brings to life many fantasized aspects of a zombie invasion— impending death, comradery, Nerf guns, and dead bodies brought back to life by a supernatural force. It gained much popularity among colleges across the country. Campuses run their own versions of HvZ using the software developed by Weed and Sappingtonat.

Kati Overmier, a blue-eyed freshman majoring in Anthropology and Theatre, brought the game to Stony Brook University after hearing about it from a friend.

“I thought, why can’t I be the one to bring it to Stony Brook?” Overmier said. “I was just determined to play a game.”

It was her determination that led to an overwhelmingly embraced campus-wide game that brought together students of all social groups and majors. There were 630 participants.

“Everyone comes up to you—nerds, jocks, frat boys,” David Goetz, a 22-year-old senior, said. “It’s a very fun game.”

Goetz wandered around campus with his friend, Adib Rahman, last Wednesday, searching for zombies, helping others in need. He waved at another tall student gliding by on his long board, an orange Nerf Gun held to his chest.

“Do you want an escort or something?” Rahman called to the fellow human. “It’s alright,” the stranger responded. “I’ll ride solo.”

Sarah Young, the Associate Director for Student Activities, said in an email, “I think it was great to see 391 students participating in an activity together throughout campus.” She was the program advisor for Humans Vs. Zombies through the Office of Student Activities.

The administration and campus police were involved with the planning of the game. Police received a list of all the players and their SOLAR ID numbers, and they sat in on one of the rules meetings that players were required to attend. There were no incidents or concerns during the game according to Lauren Sheprow, interim media relations officer.

There are plenty of rules to keep the game safe and the administration happy. The game may not be played inside any buildings, off campus, near the train tracks, or on the hospital grounds. Cars may not be used in game play whatsoever, guns are not to be visible indoors, and darts may not hurt on impact. Humans must identify themselves with a bandana tied around their leg or arm, and zombies must have one around their head. When a human is touched firmly by a zombie, they have an hour transitional period before they are permitted to continue play as a zombie.

To keep humans from permanently barricading themselves inside buildings, they are required to take part in at least two “missions” during the course of the game. Zombies must participate in one. The missions involve various tasks created by Overmier and her team of about 15 “mods,” or overseers.

The final face-off occurred Monday night, when all remaining humans were forced to face the zombies in battle. The zombies had until 7 p.m. to kill all humans, or they would lose the game. Tragically, after six days of battle, the zombies surrounded the last group of humans and reigned supreme.

That is, until next time.