Student turns HvZ into film


With “The Walking Dead” skyrocketing into its third season and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using the looming threat of a zombie apocalypse for publicity, it is no wonder that games like Humans versus Zombies are popping up all over the U.S.  

“I think, nowadays, it’s kind of a geek thing,” said Paul Tatar, a freshman telecommunications major at Youngstown State University. “‘Night of Living Dead’ kind of started it, and then ‘28 Days Later’ sort of brought attention to it. But now we’ve got ‘The Walking Dead’ that’s a good, gripping drama.”

Tatar, who is interested in filmmaking, has taken his love of the game to the next level. HvZ will now be invading the indie film scene. 

“It was an idea we never thought we could get off the ground,” Tatar said. “But now we have groups backing us. Hardcore gaming — they’re interested in being extras in it. Urban gaming — they’re revising, making sure it’s true to the game and also helping out.” 

Tatar, along with a few of his friends from out of town, has been interested in making a film involving HvZ since his high school days. Though the script is still under revision, the film will follow a traditional story arc and will revolve around a plot involving the zombie game rather than going the documentary route.  

The film will strive to offer a fun, semi-realistic look into the game and the phenomena of zombie pop culture through the eyes of Tatar’s characters.

“We’re going for an action comedy, and we’re strictly going for comic relief,” Tatar said. “We’re even throwing a contest after it’s down. How many zombie Easter eggs do we have in there?”

In regards to the film’s future, Tatar has lined up possible screening venues for when the project is finally complete. 

“I’m really hoping that the creators of HvZ take it and use it to their advantage,” he said, “But as of right now, it’s just gambling. It can go good or bad, but it’s still something I want to try. I’m not in it for the money.”

For the sake of HvZ’s future on campus, President Nick Uroseva and the members of the Urban Gaming Club said they hope the film goes well.

From the game’s birthplace at Maryland’s Goucher College in 2005, HvZ has spanned college campuses to neighborhood streets and even military bases. 

Known colleges in the area that play the game openly include Ohio University and Slippery Rock University. However, those looking to get in on the undead conquering action at YSU may be left a little disappointed.

After years of negotiations with the Office of Student Affairs and the YSU Police Department, the Urban Gaming Club has still not been able to integrate the zombie-themed, tag-like game in its entirety on campus.

“Student Affairs and YSU police had some issues with how the game was run,” Uroseva said. “It comes down to liability. They’re worrying about it impeding the flow of traffic on campus and it being potentially dangerous to the people who aren’t playing.” 

Despite getting rid of the game’s use of Nerf guns and the stealthy tag-like element, the club has been forced to seek alternative routes to the game. Spin-off games like “Cards versus Zombies” and “Antidote” have been permitted on campus, but Uroseva said he hopes that, through future negotiations, HvZ can be played in its entirety on YSU’s campus one day.  

“We’re doing more diverse things on campus to hopefully build credibility so we can run Humans versus Zombies on campus — to show that we can run events like this successfully,” he said.

Tatar has had to film off YSU property and has been considering purchasing a permit from the city to film in different locations. He has had some experience with film, having made short films while in high school, and he thinks the film industry is in for drastic changes. 

“In this economy, I think indie films could dominate,” he said.

Tartar said he is hopeful that the film will start shooting in the spring. More information about the film and possible casting calls for extras can be found on Facebook.