Humans vs. Zombies: It’s Time to Grow Up

Full Disclosure: One member of The Jambar editorial team participated in Humans vs. Zombies this year, though that member had no hand in the writing of this editorial.

Weirdo students wearing orange headbands chased around other weirdo students shooting at them with Nerf guns last week in the annual Humans vs. Zombies game.

The game takes place across campus and specifically in outdoor areas, where participants regularly cross paths with run-of-the-mill students just trying to enjoy their time on campus or get from class to class. While most students are simply trying to get across campus, the HvZ crowd are chasing each other around and shooting absurd looking Nerf guns everywhere.

A quick glance over tweets including the “YSU” hashtag from last week makes it abundantly clear that there are a lot of students who are tired of Humans vs. Zombies. Some tweets suggest a concern that there are guns of any sort on campus. Others discuss their fear of being caught in the crossfire of some violent Nerf shootout. Still others are just sick of seeing people act like nerdy children by playing pretend with toy guns.

Your voices have been heard; your tweets have been read. Something clearly needs to be said.

Critics of Humans vs. Zombies, please grow up.

See what we did there?

OK. Everyone gets it. The students that play HvZ are kind of weirdos, and they clearly don’t care what anyone on campus thinks about them. Most of them seem self-aware enough to realize this.

The vocal critics of Humans vs. Zombies, however, may need to take a long look in the mirror and ask themselves, “Why does this bother me so much?”

Getting upset about college students who play a game seems a little silly, considering the vast amount of money and hype colleges put behind student athletes.

Don’t misunderstand, that isn’t to equate the physical exertion of HvZ players to student athletes. Youngstown State University student athletes break their backs to perform at the highest possible level in their chosen sport. HvZ players run for a few minutes before pulling a trigger on a plastic gun. The difference is noted.

For the majority of YSU’s athletes, their college degrees will carry them far further in life than their sport of choice will. That being said, the Ice Palace doesn’t fill with fans waiting to watch a student athlete take his Intermediate Spanish exam. People come out to watch games. People love sports, love competition. So what’s the big deal with HvZ? The game itself can’t be the issue.

Maybe guns on campus is the issue? Socks and flying darts possibly hitting passing students? That seems like a reasonable reason to get upset.

Except it isn’t.

If a student is panicked by the sight of a brightly colored plastic gun with foam darts attached to it, they should count themselves lucky to live such a sheltered and privileged life up until that point. If the worst thing a student experiences all day is seeing a children’s toy gun emerging from a Cushwa elevator, they should count that as a very good day.

The same goes for the many students who seem concerned with getting hit by a Nerf dart.

While they certainly seem imposing, with their bright yellow foam and soft, plastic suction cup tips, research — conducted by literal children successfully using the toys without incurring casualties — has shown that Nerf darts are not lethal. In fact, you can barely feel them, even from a point blank range.

It’s not the guns. It’s not the darts. Let’s just get to the heart of it.

Students think Humans vs. Zombies is weird.

It’s a weird game played by weird people. It’s a niche thing that the kind of people who successfully blend into a crowd of twenty-somethings would never be caught doing.

That doesn’t make it wrong, and it doesn’t deserve the hate that some students dole out.

Everyone has their own special brand of escapism — “Call of Duty,” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “The Hunger Games,” “Scandal,” “Game of Thrones,” Iggy, anime, board games, watching an Indians, Steelers or Penguins game and Humans vs. Zombies — these are all forms of escapism. And the people who enjoy them are weirdoes.

People want an escape, but it gets kind of weird when they see other people actively walking down an avenue of escapism that they don’t personally enjoy traveling. Regardless of the avenue someone walks, they all lead to the same weird desire to live vicariously through celebrities, characters and activities. Weirdoes are people who take temporary refuge from life in the shelter of imagination.

That is why some people get so uptight about Humans vs. Zombies. The people who participate in the game are like flashers with a wide-open coat. Everyone can see their escape, can see a part of them that is personal and strange.

Everyone wishes they could go somewhere else or be something else. Everyone wishes they could accomplish something pithy and fantastical, to escape their lives and become the hero or the celebrity.

Next year when the game starts again, before furious fingers start pecking out tweets and yaks and whatever new social media platform for complaining exists at that point, everyone would do well to remember one thing:

You are a weirdo. Just like the Humans vs. Zombies students. Just like everyone else.