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Kids on college campuses across America are semi-regularly engaging in the campus-wide rather unimaginatively denoted, humans vs zombies, but those I know who really want to catch the full sense of hilarity of it call it by another name: zombie apocalypse.

The essential rules of the game are simple. A few hundred people sign up to play. Players wear some totem to indicate they are in the game. You start with one zombie. That zombie tries to tag humans who are playing; if the zombie succeeds, the tagged human becomes a zombie after a set period of time. Uh-oh, now you've got two zombies out there. Before long, four, eight, sixteen, etc, etc, etc, a billion!! Sadly, it is highly unlikely that a billion people will be simultaneously enticed to play the game. Those who really get into the zombie role often go far beyond wearing whatever article of clothing is required to denote such an identification; some go all out with face paint, fake blood and gore, torn, shambling looking clothes, and the whole cadence of lurching around demanding brains.

The most essential version simply requires players to simply 'survive' as humans for some predetermined period of time. Variations include 'last human wins' (wherein the game continues until that point is reached). Typically, rules allow players to 'stun' zombies by throwing balled up socks or the like at them, or shooting them with nerf guns (which has provoked some campus controversies). There are, typically rules deeming certain zones 'off limits' for game play, and play cutting off at some arbitrarily designated bedtime, and restarting in the morning.

Even better variations introduce more monster types into the mix. Think Zombie-Vampire-Werewolf Apocalypse, with each monster group trying to bag the most humans, and each having different limitations -- vampires can't tag you under the sunlight, and will 'die' if they don't tag a new victim every day; werewolves can't be stunned but their taggings don't convert you until the moon comes out. Different safe times and zones apply to each group. Some variations award points based on the number of monsters stunned or victims tagged -- so a player who eventually gets 'turned' simply keeps on racking up points, but switches to getting points against monsters to getting them against humans. I imagine someday somebody will come up with a system wherein every player is issued an electronic bracelet or similar device to track their status, which will allow implementation of the old saw that when a particular vampire is slain, all of its 'descendants' revert to humanity.

I recommend that every student participate in such a game/event when the opportunity arises. After all, you never know when you'll need to put the skills honed through such an endeavour to the test against a real influx of zombies, vampires, and werewolves!!



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