Students walking to class during the first week of March may see an odd sight for a college campus: hundreds of humans and “zombies” chasing each other.
No need to panic.
This giant game of tag is put on every year by the student organization USF Humans vs. Zombies (HVZ).
HVZ president Caylea Mace refers to the event, which takes place from March 1-6, as “an advanced game of tag.”
Players compete using Nerf “blasters,” PVC pipe “blow guns” and even rolled-up socks to tag players of the opposite team.
Some players modify their weapons to have extended battery life or lights on them. These must be approved by the moderators before they can be used in gameplay.
“When a zombie is hit … by any form of ammunition, they’re ‘stunned’ for a certain amount of time,” Mace said.
Humans, on the other hand, become zombies if tagged.
Players are distinguished by the location of their player bandannas: zombies tie theirs around their heads, while humans put theirs on their arms.
The game is played worldwide and started in 2005 at Goucher College in Maryland, according to the game's website. It’s now played at universities as well as camps, neighborhoods, libraries and conventions.
The gameplay is broken up with various missions, which range from humans carrying a canoe across campus without being seen to a campuswide scavenger hunt.
“We have missions all throughout the days, but the gameplay is still 24 hours,” Mace said.
Each mission ties in with that year’s theme.
The theme of spring 2017 is the “end of all time,” according to Kaitlyn Evans, a moderator for the upcoming game.
“The world itself is over and the dead are rising,” she added.
Game moderators, who function as referees during play, design the missions. Evans said creating missions is one of her favorite parts of the game.
“You get to see your creation come to life and see people really enjoy it,” she said.
The missions help keep the play focused.
“[Missions] give players an objective, so they’re not just running around,” Evans said. “They help reinforce why [players] want to play: because they’re challenged.”
Mace warned that gameplay can be “aggressive,” but ultimately all players are there for the same reason.
“The whole point is just to have fun together as a community,” she said.
After gameplay ends on March 6, HVZ hosts a banquet for players. There, Mr and Miss HVZ are crowned and an MVP from both the zombie and human teams is chosen by moderators and recognized at the banquet.
Anyone wishing to play must attend a town hall meeting to have the rules explained and receive their HVZ ID card, which allows players to track who is a human or a zombie on the organization’s website.
There are five more town hall meetings before gameplay begins. Dates and times are listed on the organization’s website usfhvz.org.