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MUndead makes students feel alive

Contributed by MUndead Gallery

By Alexandria Moore, For The Miami Student

An epidemic is sweeping Miami's campus, with a dozen cases already confirmed and over 100 victims expected by the end of the week. For this, the student body can blame MUndead - known often as Humans vs. Zombies club - who have taken over campus for the week of Oct. 20 and turned it into a plot-driven, apocalypse-inspired, marshmallow-fueled game of tag.

The objective is simple: survive. Over the course of the week, participants are expected to attend at least four high-stakes encounters in the last hour of each night, as their zombie counterparts (fellow players who have been tagged) attempt to convert them. Humans must evade, out-maneuver and out-run the growing legions of the undead as their own numbers dwindle.

Senior Erich Goebel, the president of HvZ, has seen the evolution of the game during his time at Miami.

"The first game was basic," Goebel said. "There was no real plot, a lot of the missions were made up the night-of. Things like 'I dropped my glasses, escort me around,' etcetera. Now we have plots, with stories and characters."

Now, for each game, there is a theme as well. In recent years, HvZ has taken on Egyptian, extraterrestrial and medieval zombies, and this semester's game is a modern "Walking Dead" inspired plot.

The humans and zombies, too, have developed strategies and methods for surviving and capturing, which they pass down to successive generations of game players. Sophomore Steven Lemp, who is entering his third semester of gameplay, said the best way to stay alive is by riding bikes between classes and storing marshmallows (which stun zombies for ten minutes) somewhere easily accessible.

"You can ride your bike between classes safely because it's a vehicle, but the fun of it is the constant alertness and terror from knowing you could be attacked between classes," Lemp said.

The game has also evolved in terms of safety - vehicles were allowed in gameplay the first year, but have subsequently been banned. This is little consolation for the university, for whom HvZ is the second most expensive club on campus, ringing in at around $4,000 per year, according to Goebel. This is because each student must be provided health insurance directly through the club, so that MUndead cannot be sued.

"No one's ever made a claim, but we're always going to need to have it," Goebel said. "Since we're growing every year, it probably isn't long until we'll be the most expensive."

Although no serious injuries have been incurred during the game in its five years, players do find that the campus has a lawless feel between noon on Monday and the last hour of Saturday.

"It's kinda weird," Lemp said. "At first I couldn't tell if everything we were doing was legal, because running around on campus at midnight chasing screaming people certainly doesn't seem illegal. The cops definitely stopped us more than once to ask what we were doing."

Winning is no small task, with only a handful of survivors some semesters, and for others, none. The prize is bragging rights, and as Goebel has experienced, that is more than enough, considering what the humans experience in the course of a week.

"During one finale, there were three humans running across Cook Field with 70 zombies chasing us," he said. "It really did feel like an apocalypse. It's very rare for humans to win, it's prestigious, no one minds if you brag, because it's so tough."

For the future of the club, a 5k zombie event is under discussion, which Goebel hopes will attract more unique participants than ever, not to mention those who don't have time for a weeklong commitment.

Goebel said the primary goal of HvZ is to appeal to as many different types of Miamians as possible. Although it is naturally tailored for those with roleplaying and videogame experience, Goebel has noticed there are more students from every facet of campus life who join each semester.

That level of involvement is unique among campus organizations, though Goebel believes the greatest success of HvZ is the way humans and zombies alike grow close over the course of the week, as they band together and face their doom, and then get revenge.

"It's not just about zombies, it's not just about throwing marshmallows at people," Goebel said. "When you're surviving with the apocalypse, you bond fast."