By Elizabeth Zakaim
Nerf blasters, sock flails and rubber duckies. Students wasted no time arming themselves with “weapons” as they congregated on the lawn behind the Library.
A student cocks his nerf blaster. The games are about to begin.
On Saturday, April 22, room 101 in the Physics Building transformed from a lecture hall to a villain’s debriefing room filled with characters like the conniving Count Olaf, sadistic Joker and voluptuous Poison Ivy.
The Manhunt Club held its semesterly day-long Humans vs. Zombies event, a game that started with a debriefing in the Physics Building, but soon spread across campus.
The game, painstakingly planned throughout the semester, is a battle for survival. Humans are tasked with attacking the players that began the game as zombies, in order to “stun” them and temporarily prevent them from turning more humans into zombies. However, if every human is tagged and turned into a zombie by the end of the day, then the zombies win the game.
This semester’s game was villain themed. All six of the game show-styled missions were hosted by moderators, or club members dressed as a villains who made sure the game ran smoothly.
“We want everyone having fun,” said Kristina Malmstrom, president of Manhunt Club and a senior English major. “That’s the only reason we do this.”
Malmstrom was also a moderator at the event. With her hair tinged fluorescent green and her eyes shining brightly against the two large bruises around them, her look as The Joker was complete.
During the first mission, “Zeporady,” humans scrambled to pick up cardboard cutouts with different categories labeled on them, each worth a certain amount of points, according to Maggie Paragian, vice president of Manhunt Club and a sophomore communication studies major.
Paragian was also a “zombie moderator” in charge of her “hyper-organic beings,” as she called them. Both her eyelids and fingertips were a sparkly green, the product of her transformation into the DC Comics villain Poison Ivy.
The humans then brought the category to the host of the mission, in this case The Joker, and she challenged them with a “Jeopardy”-style clue. While the humans racked their brains for the answer, the zombies were hunting vulnerable humans to tag.
Hassan Al Dawod, a sophomore biomedical engineering major and one of the original zombies, was tasked with tagging as many humans as possible. It was not his first manhunt expedition, and he embraced the challenge of being only one of the three original zombies.
To Al Dawod, the game is more than fun, it also gives him the chance to get to know other students.
“I’m naturally (an introvert),” Al Dawod said about getting to know other Manhunt members.
He is happy with the friends he’s begun to make in the club.
“It (helps) me get to know people,” he said.
In the next mission, “Legend of the Zombie Temple,” the humans must build a tower of stuffed animals before the zombies get the best of them. The humans won the round and then took a break in their “safe zone,” where they could reboot and plan future strategies.
During other missions like “The Price is Fright,” humans had to guess the price value of different objects labeled on cardboard that were strewn about outside. For example, a piece of cardboard labeled “box of Oreos” might be price ranged at anywhere from $2.50 to $3.50, according to Jonah Dicorcia, public relations officer of Manhunt Club and a junior interactive multimedia major.
“It’s just like ‘The Price is Right’ except they also have to deal with zombies attacking them,” he said.
Dicorcia, dressed as Count Olaf from the book series “A Series of Unfortunate Events” –– complete with an eye tattoo on his ankle and a wiggly unibrow –– later hosted a mission of his own. The objective of “Z-vivor” is similar to a relay race, he said. Humans had to race each other in the bunny hop, wheelbarrow and other forms of relays. The humans who were not racing protected their teammates against impending zombies.
The final mission, “The Generators,” was left up to the few humans who were left.
They had to fill two of the four generators, by filling up empty soda bottles with water, to power open the gates and allow them to escape from the zombies for good.
Who will win?
The tables turned in the zombies’ favor, and they ended the day with victory on their side.
Paragian, who trusted her zombies’ savvy skills on the playing field, was excited to see how both groups responded to the different challenges of the game.
“At the end of the day, we’re just here to have fun and have a good time,” she said. “It’s a good way to get a whole group of people together that you normally wouldn’t see.”
With the end of the semester drawing near, it’s easy to get caught up in impending exams and assignments, but the Manhunt Club knows how to cope with all of that stress –– they play to take a break and enjoy themselves.
“It seems very childish,” Paragian said. “But I like how we all just come together and play one silly game.”