HvZ@ANU and everything it did

17 Feb

Humans versus Zombies at ANU has been dealt a serious blow. Today, it was announced that the university would no longer allow gameplay to go ahead on campus during the day.

For people unfamiliar with the Humans vs Zombies phenomenon, check out the official website, or the ANU specific one. (Also, note HvZ@ANU gets onto the official website front page. /pride)

Not meaning to wax lyrical here, but HvZ@ANU has shaped my university experience more than anything else, so the news that the Summer 2011 game has been cancelled upset me.

It upset me more than I thought it would. For all the politics and stress that accompanies the preparation of a game, there’s an unmatched sense of accomplishment, pride, and, let’s face it, family. I feel very sorry for the mods who put hours of their time into preparation for this game, only to see it called off at the last minute.

I was a lonely first year (lonely in that I only knew a handful of people, and most of them had different timetables, resulting in a few lunchtimes spent alone, trying to look like I was studying, when really I was feeling vulnerable and more than a little out of place), when I stumbled across a blog post that really piqued my interest. (If you don’t already know the story of how that happened, you never will.)

After arranging to meet up with some complete strangers (I feared for my life), I was welcomed into a strange and slightly surreal world. The world of Humans vs Zombies. I might add that those complete strangers have become some of my closest friends at university, so for those keeping tally, I was already winning. (Not sure what against…isolation? Never mind.)

It was serious business. People got stuff done with remarkable flair. We headed out one cloudy Bush Week market day in hope of signing up enough players to break even (we needed 20 people to cover the costs we’d already spent on marketing and the like.)

About 200 people signed up that day.

Then it rained and all our paperwork got soaked so we had to spend an afternoon in the bathrooms drying member lists under hand driers.

The first game was amazing. Sure, it had its snags, but it was our first time! It went down astoundingly smoothly, all things considered. The other amazing thing: when it finished, I knew a lot more people, and a lot of people knew who I was. Suddenly, I had a ‘group’, I had people who I could chat to between lectures. I think a lot of people felt that way, and that pretty much rocked.

So, naturally things kicked up a gear. The next game was astounding. The moderators were like wizards, spinning intricate mission webs and building a freakin’ cardboard taxi. And the black box! How the black box intrigued and beguiled us!

Luckily, that box made an appearance in the third game too, along with a sudden realisation that everything was getting darn serious. Humans were like warriors; organised, strategically-minded machines of anti-zombie war. Cracks started to show, but who cared?

By this stage, we’d built a vast and varied network of students, lecturers, even people who came from interstate to play… If there were problems with the game, that was secondary to the fact that we’d found a way to mix students from all sorts of disciplines and age groups, form lasting friendships (and a couple of romances) and a lot of us had learned how to navigate campus better than we would’ve otherwise. (Nothing teaches you how to get around like running for dear life.)

So, ANU has finally put their collective foot down and said ‘no more of this raucous, childish nonsense!’ and while they have their reasons, (probably good ones, but I’ll protest anyway), I think they’re missing something.

People who have never played don’t understand what it’s like. They don’t understand the friendships. They don’t comprehend the arguments over tags and stuns. They don’t get what it’s like to realise you don’t have swipe access to a door when a hoard is bearing down on you. They will never realise the glory of a first kill. Actually, I will never realise the glory of a first kill. I was a rubbish zombie. They won’t understand why we spend thousands of dollars on our arsenals, or spend hundred of hours modifying weapons to fire further, faster, and more accurately. They won’t see the beauty of gun-cam footage. They won’t know the difficulty of fitting THAT many pizza boxes into the back of cars.

The most tragic thing is, they’ll probably think they’re better off not experiencing any of the above.

Humans vs Zombies at ANU, you stressed me out more than anything I’ve ever done, and the politics were cloying, and the angst could induce tears of frustration, but this club has made my time at ANU richer for the people it has introduced me to.

Here’s to you, HvZ@ANU. May you rise above this blow from the establishment, like a phoenix from ashes, and continue to annoy the hell out of hipsters and academics, and make us all smile.



14 Responses to “HvZ@ANU and everything it did”

  1. Myles O'Neill February 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    🙂 Well put Eleanor, well put.

  2. machi February 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    This brought a second round of tears to my eyes (first went to the actual announcement). You sum it up so neatly…

  3. Freya February 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Thank you Eleanor. You said so many of the things that I feel on the subject.

  4. Wordsmith February 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    Elegantly said. The games will undoubtedly be remembered as a main fixture of my uni life, and it’s sad to see it fade so soon.

    We just have to hope that, like its namesake, it will rise from the grave with a vengeance.

  5. Leechman February 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm #


  6. Paul February 17, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    I’m a sad panda and I wasn’t even going to be playing any more.:c

  7. richard February 18, 2011 at 1:13 am #

    Very well said

  8. Jacob February 18, 2011 at 6:49 am #

    Nicely said Eleanor (especially as another such lonesome first year who literally knew nobody @ ANU before HvZ)

  9. Phillip Nash February 18, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    Beautifully put. Thank you Eleanor.

  10. randomy February 20, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Hang on, what about after-hours HvZ? Have they outlawed that? I used to always be so jealous of people who managed to spend their time playing the game, particularly after I left ANU. It’s sad to see it disappear.


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