I don't know if it's useful to anyone. It's probably tl;dr but I wrote it for my blog and I thought someone who hasn't gone through the process might want a look at exactly everything I did to get the game of HvZ started at UNCG. My friend Guy (tggunn here) was/is in charge of missions, NPCs, and more during-the-game things so this is mostly a recount of dealing with the administration and advertising the game.
Today we got official permission to do HvZ at UNCG.
It all started while I was studying abroad in Beijing. I was talking to Guy on Skype and he sent me a link to www.humansvszombies.org
and told me he was working on getting it started at UNCG. I got really excited and started watching tons of youtube videos and the documentary they created at Goucher College. I did nothing but talk about HvZ for a few weeks but it was still a few months out before I got back stateside. Apparently the person in charge of talking to the university dropped the ball and it was too late in the semester to get started so Guy had to put it off from Spring 09 to Fall 09.
I came back to the US and I had a ton of stuff to do over the summer. I attended a program called Leadershape over the summer where I met Checka Leinwall who works at Campus Activities and Programs. I told her a little bit about HvZ and apparently the person in charge of university relations before me had told her about it but never got back to her. She suggested that I meet with Curtis Tarver who is assistant director for programs at Campus Activities and Programs once we got back to Greensboro.
About two weeks before school started I moved into my house where Guy also lives and we began working on contacting the administration. I went to see Curtis with my friend Pat to see what we needed to do. He told us that we could work with the Campus Activities Board to get it set up but that they wouldn't be meeting until school started.
School finally started and emailed CAB. I was trying to find the Political Awareness Club booth at Fall Kickoff and I saw CAB so I went over to talk to them. It turned out they hadn't gotten my email or hadn't read it but basically they just said to email them again and go to their meeting the next week. I sent the email and I talked Mikey and Guy into going. It was quite possibly one of the funniest situations in all this because their meeting was about Fallfest (UNCG homecoming) and Guy kept trying to be helpful and I kept shutting him down because I just wanted the meeting to be over so I could talk to them about HvZ. We had to sit there for something like 2 hours through a fairly badly planned meeting where every time they asked for ideas Mikey just had the perfect thing to say. He had great names for the theme, he had great ideas for things to give away, all because of where he was working over the summer. It was kind of funny but I kept apologizing to both of them for dragging them into this meeting which there was really no need for and I would have shown up towards the end of had I been made aware of what it was about.
Thank God that thing had an ending so after it was finished we went up to talk to the guy in charge of "special programs" who clearly hadn't read the second email and told him about the idea in more detail. He said it would take about two weeks to run it by the different sides of the administration and get it approved so to just email him then.
Two weeks went by. We emailed him.
Another week went by, we Facebook stalked him and sent him a message along the lines of "we know you might have different priorities, we'd just like to know if we should work on this on our own."
Finally we got a reply from the dude (told you Facebook is good for something!) saying yes basically we just had to run it by campus police, create the event and then CAB could help us advertise. Haha, like I'd let them anywhere near it after pulling shit like that. So 3 weeks (5 if you count the 2 over the summer) wasted we got into getting in touch with the administration.
During that time we had also been talking to SF3 about it after all the game is a perfect fit for most of the people there and if we were required to be part of a student organization they had offered to let us do it basically on our own just letting them know what we needed. Yair was the one that suggested talking to Mark Schumacher at the library because he helped do Game Night there. At that point I didn't even know who I had to talk to so I knew getting someone who would be friendly towards the idea of the game point us in the right direction would be an immense help.
Mark was very open to the idea and one of the students working at the help desk was pretty excited about it (by this time we'd started a Facebook event and invited everyone we knew from UNCG and Greensboro to it). He told us to talk to Guy Sanders at HRL. It took me a few days to write out an email I was happy with. First impression is really all we have so I wanted to really make it count and explain the game and give them some ideas for further reading. I clearly stated what we wanted (permission for the game), what it cost the university (nothing), and what was to be gained from the game (community building, student involvement, etc). I made sure to link the about page of the HvZ game and the AP story on it (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/article314652.ece
) which does a great job of showing the good, the bad, and the ugly of the game.
Guy Sanders pointed me to Dan Calhoun who offered to meet with me about it. This was October 6th and I can't really say how excited we were. This was our first scheduled meeting with someone in the university to talk about HvZ. At this point Guy started working on getting the website up and working on the real guts of the game. We had around a hundred people "attending" on the Facebook event which also made us really excited because the total number of people invited had grown meaning friends were telling friends about it.
I met with Dan Calhoun October 7th at 9am (I woke up early) and met him at his office. He had apparently done research on it and mentioned it to a few colleagues. One of them had a friend in a university where the SWAT team was called in because of the game but the administration let it go on even after that. "Now, what this tells me is that they saw something in that game that was worth keeping even after the police got called. All we have to do is find a way so the police don't get called." We talked about different ways to solve problems and he explained that he couldn't have a final yes or no on the matter since he was in charge of things relating to the dorms so I asked who I should go to. He said Jen Day Shaw, the dean of students, would be the person with the final say on the game. I asked him if he had any tips for me and he said that guns were going to be a sticking point and that we might not have enough time to advertise before November 13th. I was so overjoyed I skipped the class I had right after. First contact had gone great and now I knew the exact person to talk to.
I emailed Jen Day Shaw on October 9th. The email had "nerf darts" instead of "nerf guns" and it was basically a copy/paste job from what I sent Guy Sanders with the addition of a .doc of the rules, the safety guidelines, and the liability forms. I was very surprised and pleased when October 12th she emailed me back telling me to meet with Brett Carter from the dean of students office and Checka Leinwall from Campus Activities and Programs and she sent them the email as well. Both of them had been at Leadershape so the meeting was not the scary monster I'd pictured in my mind of tall chairs and ADMINISTRATORS bearing down on us. I replied to Brett and Checka asking what time they were available and I included Dan from HRL so we could get everything ironed out at once. I sent a message to The Carolinian (campus newspaper) telling them a little bit about it to see if they'd like to do a piece on it and Guy tried to get in touch with the people over at WUAG (campus radio station). At this point I think we had over 200 people attending with another ridiculously high number of "maybe attending."
We finally met with Brett, Checka, and Chris Gregory (Dan couldn't make it that day) on October 23rd at 3pm. We were walking past the music building when I remembered we'd left the Maverick in the house. I was convinced it was super important to bring it in and give the administrators an idea of what a nerf gun looks like so I walked back to the house, got it, and bike back to meet with Guy. We printed hard copies of all three documents (rules, safety guidelines, and liability forms) plus a map of the range of what Guy wanted the boundaries to be. We stapled them into 4 different stacks so each administrator got one to refer back to and write on and me and Guy got one just in case.
We showed up at the room 10 minutes early and rearranged it so that the meeting space was one table with five chairs around it near the electricity plug. We had the laptop ready with the different websites that were needed, and the Maverick sitting on the table. As they came in we introduced ourselves and talked about Leadershape or the game. Once everyone was in we did a quick recap of what the game is and why we want to play it. The handouts turned out to be extremely helpful because they really helped us stay on topic. They had printed out their own topics and Brett had even gone as far as running the liability form by the legal department before he went to the meeting so he had a few questions from them. We first went through the rules which they were fine with. Then we talked about the boundaries and they mentioned it might be really hard to warn that many people about the game and we ended up compromising on a 2-block radius around campus. During the rules part we asked them whether it was a better idea to have the nerf guns out inside buildings so people wouldn't think a real gun was being hidden or if it was better to put them away. We ended up deciding a backpack or some sort of bag would be better and to simply make it a rule to always have a backpack or bag to store the gun. We assured them we would check guns to make sure they did not look realistic beforehand and any that did would be spray-painted orange or not used at all. Chris told us that unfortunately there is a rule against nerf sports in the dorms and this activity would fly completely in the face of that rule so the entire dorm (not just rooms) had to be a safe zone. Although the increased paranoia from dorm fights is nice, I can see his point about it and maybe next game once they see how big it's going to be they can rethink the ruling on it.
My favorite line out of the whole meeting actually came after it was over when Brett said "I was a little worried about the nerf gun thing but now that I look at this thing, there's just no way anybody could think it's real." I knew that they didn't have Nerf guns when they were young but only in that vague "factoid" way. Kind of like we know our parents didn't have the internet growing up, didn't have google to do research with, and didn't have facebook to keep up with friends. It really brought home that a lot of the schools where it has been shut down it was probably a person who only heard gun and didn't hear nerf because nerf doesn't change anything about gun in their head. Once they can see and play with one, that nerf qualifier changes everything. Checka told us she would run all the stuff by campus police and get a final say from the safety people before they gave us formal permission. I'd thought about including someone from campus police in the emails about the meeting (I had two emails of different people) but I'm not great with police (they make me nervous, no surprise there) and I didn't want to overstep my authority.
Guy and I basically skipped home that afternoon. With the support we had just received campus police probably wouldn't shut us down. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the final yes to start flyering and advertising in earnest. Guy hadn't heard anything back from WUAG and I hadn't heard from The Carolinian. We called the girl in charge of news during her news show and she told us there was an email for submissions on the website which apparently Guy hadn't seen so he sent them an email with all the information. I had recently found out a friend of mine worked for The Carolinian so I posted on his wall asking him who I was supposed to talk to. The editor replied to my posting saying she'd heard about the game and that she was going to bring it up at her next meeting to see who would like to write a piece about it.
We finally got the official OK on October 29th. I went by Checka's office once during my break at work to see if she'd heard anything and she assured me that as soon as she found out I'd get to know so just hold on. I'm guessing the campus police took their time reviewing the information and everything and then Checka sent me an email saying the game was good to go as long as we give them the names of the people playing and their liability forms signed at least 72 hours in advance and a list of the missions and times also at least 72 hours in advance.
Today is Friday, November 6th. The game will start next Friday, November 13th (spooky scary!). The 72 hours previous falls on Wednesday so the last day for people to turn in their liability forms is Tuesday. For the next 2 weeks I will eat, sleep, dream, and shit Humans vs Zombies. There's only two mods to the currently 337 players so I've taken off work for the week that the game will be happening. I ask God, Jahova, Allah, Ganesh, Buddah, and whoever else is interested that my players won't be douchebags, that the missions will be interesting, and that the lore behind the game is funny.
We got an email back from the radio station. Apparently 300+ people running around campus with bandannas and nerf guns doesn't constitute news so we will not be featured. Apparently there's these "public service announcements" that go out and we might be included in those. To tell you the truth I have no idea about any of it because I've never listened but hey, it's something. Nobody from The Carolinian has contacted us. My friend works in the opinions section not on the life section but I'm guessing they don't think we're news either. My guess on both accounts is that this is why I love the internet. Next semester we'll hopefully be bigger, get some old media attention, and everyone who got the event invite and thought they were just getting invited to a "Mafia Wars" game on Facebook realizes what they missed out on. For now we have some players that are getting hardcore into it and hopefully we'll scrounge up NPCs over the course of next week to help flesh out the missions. I'll post a mission list and description and a tell-all account of the game once it's over. SO EXCITED!