Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Legend in My Own Mind

Next week marks another game of Humans vs. Zombies at Valparaiso University, and as we get ready for the game, two of the moderators share their thoughts about which team they prefer playing for.  We start today with Adam Cross's reflections on the joy of being human:

Adam Cross performing a magical ritual to aid the humans
While some people prefer the great wave of relief that comes with the zombie transformation, I cherish the thrill of constant paranoia that comes with being human. In the past four years I have played as a leader of the human race, and very rarely am I ever tagged before the final mission. This is largely due to my efforts to travel undetected around campus. I meticulously plan my routes to my classes, down to the individual tree, with the understanding that the timing of my movements is vital to my survival. I analyze what routes are most populated during what passing periods, and even go so far as to memorize the class schedules of some of the more seasoned players that I know prefer to play as zombies.

My game alias for the first few years was “Shadow,” as many zombies commented that I quite simply didn’t exist at night, though they knew I was out there somewhere, quietly orchestrating the human’s movements.  For me, nothing compares to the fun of having a horde of thirty or forty zombies searching for you, organizing stealth teams and raiding parties in an attempt to convert you before the mission is completed. And when you pull off that job, right under their noses, well, there’s a warm sense of satisfaction.

As a human I find myself pretending that I fight for humanity, for its preservation and its honor. Over the years I’ve become a bit of a legend in my own mind, and if it’s not too arrogant to say, a legend in the minds of some others as well. Bragging rights are given to the zombie who is able to tag me, and admittedly I feel proud in that fact. As a human I have the ability to defy the odds, since the zombie numbers grow exponentially as the game progresses. For us the stakes are higher, the risks greater, and so our leaders are pushed to plan and orchestrate continually more innovative and intelligent operations to keep our race alive for as long as possible.

Instead of thinking in terms of shortest paths, most effective formations, and most powerful armament, I tend to think in terms of stealth, speed, and deception. I love distracting zombies with a large group of humans to watch and “babysit” while a small stealth team gets the job done. I love bait-and-switch, hide and seek, flanking, subverting, and utterly confounding the movements of the larger zombie horde.

They are the orcs, standing between us and Mt. Doom, and this makes the challenge all the more enticing and worthwhile. That’s part of why Lord of the Rings works, right? The odds are so high against them, their numbers so few, and yet their goal is of such great importance that they must succeed, and they do. Sure, these thoughts are inflated and perhaps ridiculous, but that’s what makes HVZ so fun! We can pretend to be saviors or destroyers. We can be a part of the unconquerable undead, or the vulnerable sole survivor. It’s me against the world, with all the honor and glory that goes with it. And for a game like this, I think that’s quite all right.