Friday, April 13, 2012

Why Zombies Are the Better Side

On Wednesday, we featured the thoughts of Valparaiso University student Adam Cross on why he prefers playing for the human team; today, we have the perspective of his roommate, Owen Prough, on why he prefers being a zombie.

Along with my roommate and another friend of ours, I brought Humans vs. Zombies to the campus of Valparaiso University. Since that time nearly 3 years ago I have had the opportunity to participate in quite a few games and have found the experience immensely fun and engaging. One aspect of the game which I find particularly interesting is that players often express a preference for one faction. For example, we have several players at VU who are hardcore human players and do everything they can to survive. My roommate, Adam, is one of these. We also have a (smaller) set of players who prefer to play as zombies. I count myself in this group.

Why do I like to play as a zombie? The answer is somewhat complex, but boils down to two main things: my personal talents and the psychology of the zombie faction. A zombie’s only goal is to tag human players, and that involves physical fitness and vigilance to know where the human players are and whether or not they know where you are. Zombie players tend to run quite a bit more than human players so being in reasonably good shape is a definite bonus. In a straight chase, I can outrun (or, in this case, run down) most other players on campus and there are definitely moments when pursuing a lone human that I really feel the so-called “thrill of the chase”.

Probably the biggest reason I prefer to play as a zombie, though, is due to what I call the "Psychology of the Horde." The mindset of zombie players is dramatically different than our human counterparts. All it takes to convert a human player to a horde-member is a single tag. Because of this, human players tend to be a bit stressed during games as their suspension of disbelief makes them think that they might “die” at any moment while outside. Zombies, on the other hand, have no such stress. Because being tagged with a Nerf dart or sock only stuns us for a set amount of time, such a death is only a minor inconvenience.

I am also a huge fan of how friendly and close-knit the Horde is. This is partly from necessity, to be sure. An encounter between even numbers of humans and zombies gives an advantage to the humans because they can stun the zombies from a distance. Due to this, zombies have to work together in order to achieve their goals, and it has been truly rewarding to see how quick zombie players are to get to know each other and to see how many friendships have been spawned from a mutual need of a hunting partner.

It is also neat to see players stepping up into leadership roles in the Horde. In the three years that we’ve been playing at Valparaiso University, I have seen multiple players rise into leadership roles in the Horde—coordinating, handling information flow, and just being the sort of charismatic leaders that both humans and zombies need. It has been a great ride thus far and I can’t wait to see how it goes. If you’ll excuse me, though, I just noticed some humans walk past my window and I need to…enlighten them.