Let's get one thing straight: people have been playing the modified tag game "Humans vs. Zombies," aka HvZ, for a lot longer than the country has been freaked out by Tucson psycho Jared Loughner. But now that folks are getting shot in Arizona, faculty members at UW are sick of people playing a tag game that involves guns--even if the guns are made of plastic and shoot Nerf darts.
"I had an encounter with a student dressed in combat fatigues, carrying a dark (toy) rifle strapped over his shoulder, and perched in the window of the fourth floor stairwell of Thomson Hall," said Professor Mary Callahan in an e-mail.
Citing the tragedy in Tucson, Callahan stated, "I don't doubt that this game has its social, sporting, and strategic appeal, but I believe it should be played elsewhere . . . I don't like walking around campus amongst make-believe assassins sneaking around with toy guns, looking to take out targets."
The rules of Humans vs. Zombies can be found here. But in short, it's a weeklong (sometimes shorter or longer) game played outdoors with a group of people, some "zombies" and some "humans."
The zombies try and tag the humans and turn them into zombies.
The humans try and run from the zombies, or throw rolled-up socks or shoot Nerf guns at them, which incapacitates the beasts for 15 minutes.
The result is that walks between class turn into full-on fights for survival, with zombies jumping out of nowhere and Nerf projectiles flying.
Basically, it's an insane amount of fun.
The game is also wildly popular at other college campuses across the country. Last year some 900 students at the school found themselves hunting as, or being hunted by, zombies (watch a vid of the action here).
Regardless, Callahan is sticking to her invocation of Loughner and all its buzz-killing implications.
Granted, people are allowed a sightly larger amount of leeway to be paranoid cranks in light of a certain psychopath going nuts in Arizona. But it ends when the guns they're worried about are neon pink and shoot foam.
If Nerf darts and outdoor tag are what you're cornered about among the country's university students, then obviously you haven't seen what they do indoors.