University of South Florida junior Ben Stone and freshman Meghan Kelley were headed to a lecture across campus when they were turned into zombies.
“We were walking to class and they snuck up and got us both,” Stone said.
Now, they’re part of a zombie horde that has taken over the campus.
Though Halloween may be a fading memory, USF is participating in an advanced form of tag called Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ).
The zombies lurk outside safety zones found in the library, classrooms and the Marshall Student Center. They hide in bushes and behind cars. They patiently wait to tag unsuspecting humans and make them join the ranks of undead.
The game was initiated on the USF campus in spring 2010 and has been played each semester since fall 2010. The student group Christians in Action initially hosted it. Over summer 2012, HvZ became its own official recognized USF club with nearly 500 members.
The game lasts over a few days. This semester’s game started Nov. 1 and ends today (Nov. 5).
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast, sign-up here.
HvZ started at a college in Maryland in 2005 and has become a growing contest at college campuses throughout the country. Students on each campus are divided into two groups: humans and zombies.
The rules of the game are simple. With a battle cry of “Viva la resistance,” humans, identified by colored arm bandanas, defend themselves with socks and Nerf guns to stun zombies, identified by bandanas on their head.
The humans’ goal is to avoid being tagged, or “infected.” If they become infected, they join the zombie horde. The zombies’ only objective is to tag humans and avoid being stunned by socks and Nerf guns, leaving them out of the game for 15 minutes.
“There’s no material prize, except recognition at the end that you are with the human group that didn’t die or you were with the zombies that tagged all the humans,” said USF HvZ moderator Geoffrey West, a senior.
Since its inception, HvZ has been sponsored by Armada Games, a Temple Terrace gaming store.
“A bunch of our players here participate,” said Michael Fortino, owner of Armada Games. “They were having trouble coming up with money to cover the insurance needed for the game, so they came to us.”
Students take this game of tag seriously. Although the gameplay is pretend, the injuries are real, necessitating the insurance.
Bloody, scraped knees and hands are commonplace while attempting to race and capture, or simply escape.
Both freshman Avery Thompson and Kevin Romulus chose be tagged at the very start of the game.
“It’s really fun,” said Thompson, “I’d just rather be the predator than the prey.”
“Human life is boring,” added Romulus. “I prefer chasing people to being chased.”
HvZ is a well-organized strategy game, with a members-only website that provides rules and regulations and identifies each human with a kill ID card number and date of zombie transformation. The website also has multiple Facebook groups, specifically a zombie Facebook group that targets locating key human survivors.
All indoor locations are safe zones; however, step off campus and any non-moving location is fair game.
Although HvZ has been well advertised on campus, some students were unaware of it beforehand.
“I didn’t know what was happening,” said Jesse Heath, a freshman. “My friend was being pelted down with socks. I asked about the rules, and I might do it next semester.”
Meghan Kelley, the freshman who was infected on the way to class, has become a determined zombie. Before getting into her vehicle, she carefully surveyed her surroundings one last time for unwary humans.
“Viva la undead!” she proudly shouted.