By Elizabeth Zakaim
Ragnarok is upon us. Or at least it was on Saturday, April 13 during TCNJ Manhunt’s annual day-long Humans vs. Zombies event. The club’s members, comprised of students, alumni and the local community, could be seen armed with their usual supply of Nerf ammunition and orange headbands as they took part in this year’s Norse mythology themed event – Ragnarok was the “apocalypse” of the Norse mythology era.
Each year, Manhunt selects a theme through which to play Humans vs. Zombies, where the objective remains for the humans to fend off their zombie counterparts before they themselves get tagged and transform into the brain-eating creatures. The only way for the humans to ward them off is by aiming well with their Nerf blasters, and therefore temporarily stunning them, during each of the six missions in the game. Whichever side has more members by the finale wins.
Maggie Paragian, a senior communication studies major and president of the club, served as the zombie’s moderator throughout the game. She was also in character with the theme – she supervised each mission as Hel, the half-dead Norse goddess of the similarly named “hell,” and ruler of the underworld.
The moderator for the humans, sophomore secondary education major and Manhunt’s historian Steven Pae, played Freyja, the goddess of love. He wore a long white fur cape with an angel crown to complete his look.
Paragian wore a black corset and petticoat, and had half of her face painted like a skeleton with a flower crown on top of her head to illustrate her distinct goddess character.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the players take the theme and run with it, and how they react to certain missions,” Paragian said. “We made them with a lot of fun intended and we were hoping the amount of fun we had in making the missions would translate while they were playing.”
Paragian helped organize each mission for the club members to take part in. During the first mission, “Frying with Freyja,” the humans had to maneuver around the zombies in order to find food for Freyja to eat. The zombie stun time was 20 seconds. The humans made it with enough time to debrief for their upcoming missions.
Sophomore computer science major Kevin Kalendeck, a human, had a great time gathering the food hidden outside between the Business Building and Bliss Hall.
“The humans have actually been doing really well this year, Kalendeck said. “We only lost around 10 people so far and it’s not that bad. The zombies always win, but this year we don’t know.”
It was soon time for the humans and zombies to face off in their fourth mission, “Everything’s Coming Up Loki.” The zombies took turns evading humans while holding a bright red flag that gave them the temporary status of being trickster-god Loki. The humans had to defend one of their gods, Heimdall, against the wrath of his evil enemy. If a zombie got stunned, he or she had to pass the flag off to another available zombie player.
The humans assumed their positions for an offensive attack as the zombies egged them on.
“Do you wanna go,” they called as the humans on the front line kneeled with their Nerf blasters at the ready. “We all have to die someday!”
Heimdall came out alive and the humans emerged victorious.
“The humans won this mission pretty handedly,” said Jonah Dicorcia (’18). Yet he felt that while they may have won the battle, the humans would ultimately lose the war.
“We’re bleeding people,” Dicorcia said. “The humans are slowly losing out to zombies. It’s going to happen inevitably – it’s gonna be all zombies.”
Yet, he admitted he would not be too disappointed to be turned into a zombie.
“It’s my life-long – no, my death-long – goal,” he said.
While the humans were happy to put up some fierce competition, they ultimately succumbed to the merciless zombies, as they do at every finale round.
“I liked seeing how people took the theme to heart and wanted to play the game honorably,” Paragian said in reflection of the event. “Whether they were human or zombie they played the game to the best of their ability and made it enjoyable to both participate and watch.”