A player’s perspective

Posted by Yvonne Lui in Darkness Falls, Event recap, Survival Guide on 15 Oct 2014

THIS IS ZEDTOWN: AND I’LL BE DAMNED IF GENUINE FEAR WASN’T A FACTOR IN MY SURVIVAL

So this year, on Saturday the 11th of October, I once again made the trip to Zedtown: where a section of Sydney University was converted into a pseudo world on the brink of collapse, following a virus outbreak which marks the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Armed with Nerf guns, balled up socks and a healthy dose of fear and anxiety, we are thrust out into Zedtown, where the government has abandoned us, everyone looks like an enemy and ultimately, we are all merely prolonging the inevitable. Some unfortunate folk had already been infected – called Original Zombies, or OZs, and they were hidden among us, waiting for the opportune moment to reveal themselves, infect others and begin humanity’s slippery slope down into zombieland.

This was my third time stepping foot in Zedtown, so I’ve been a player since it’s inception. It’s the largest game of it’s kind in Australia, and quite frankly, once a year just ain’t enough! What could possibly NOT be fun about a bunch of adults running around in silly costumes, shooting foam darts and throwing socks at each other?

The game essentially boils down to a giant game of tag. Everyone starts out as survivors, with a few OZs among us. Once you are firmly tapped on the body or on your gear by a zombie, you convert into a zombie. Yay! Survivors can stun incoming zombies with their nerf guns, and also with balled up socks. Throughout the game, there are also NPCs – Non-Playable Characters, who are allowed to spread info but do not partake in the game. Some will offer missions, which will grant survivors things like information about the OZs, and funnily enough this year, lamington cake. Additionally, there are super crazy ‘boss’ zombies – zombies which have special powers or immunity to things. Like the witch. The….the witch. That makes my spine tingle. Rumors spread about her being unable to run, or that she could be stunned by socks. All. Lies. She runs, she screams, she’s invincible and this year, she had a posse of zombies armed with GUNS, THAT COULD STUN YOU. Just, just run. Freaking, run.

I personally love how immersive the game is. There’s a dedicated radio station on the day, spreading intel, rumors, outright lies and keeping everyone on their toes. Social media was similarly used to communicate, and if you encountered a stranger with tidbits of info – you politely, but firmly, tell them to stay at a distance as you converse. The witch scared the living daylights out of every single survivor by a simple scream, the most terrifying scream of all the land…..with ‘boss’ zombies kindly revealing to you they are invincible coming a close second. There were moments throughout the day, where genuine fear was a factor in my survival. I had allowed myself to get so into the game that I trusted no-one, and the sound of zombies proclaiming ‘ONE OF US’ made my adrenaline pump faster.

This year, I landed myself a new record. I survived the longest I had ever in the game – 20mins until evacuation. The game began this year at 4pm, and evacuation was at 9:30. Considering previous years it took only a mere hour or so, that was pretty damned good. So I think I might have some handy tips on how to go about surviving in Zedtown, and the game in general:

TRUST. NO. ONE.

Seriously, absolutely no-one. Except for your group mates, as long as they ticked the ‘Not OZ’ box when buying their tickets. Last year, we were swiftly and quietly picked off by the OZ, simply because we let our guard down and allowed him within tagging distance. Since not all OZs are revealed at the same time, no-one knows who is being real, who is being deceptive and everyone will do well if they stay a tangible distance away from you and your group. I took this mentality with me all the way….I was eventually separated from my group, and even when they called asking where I was, I was wary about giving away my position. Hearing the sounds of my zombified friends saying they were coming for me as I ran like hell with a bunch of stranger-survivors was one of the creepiest things ever.

You probably don’t need that much ammo

I got through as long as I did with only a 25 dart barrel – and I only reloaded once. Though of course, this is dependent on your play style. Mine was very much run, run like bloody hell this year. So I had no real use for my gun until the final hurrah, where I was finally zombified. If you’re an avid zombie hunter, or plan on fortifying an area (which will inevitably attract the Horde) then ok, darts, all of the darts. Realistically though, if you’re a scaredy like me, you won’t need or use that much ammo.

Keep moving

I can see the benefit of combining groups of a tangible size, finding a spot and fortifying for the entire night. There can definitely be safety in numbers, but with the existence of boss and invincible zombies, you’d just become an easy target. Keep on your toes, and get ready to run. Fast.

On that note, pack light

You don’t want to weigh yourself down packing way too much. Some muesli bars, a small bottle of water and some space for extra clips of ammo should be sufficient. A bogan-esque bum bag is amazing for this. I bought a relatively cheap one from Paddy’s Market and haven’t gone back.

Find a spot to hide out for a while

I spent a good 30mins or so with a couple of other team mates hiding behind bushes, and we were never spotted. I daresay we could have stayed there for the rest of the night until evacuation if it weren’t for us getting restless sitting in the dirt in such a cramped space. Whilst hiding, the witch and the horde came by. Twice. And we remained unnoticed. One of the most tense moments of the game.

Don’t be a fool. Welcome the change.

With 500 players this year, the chance of survival are so very very slim. And even if one manages to survive until evacuation has been announced, there’s the perilous journey running towards the evacuation point, which will be swamped with zombies, guaranteed. To be completely honest, by the time I was separated from the rest of my original team mates and there was very little time left until evacuation, I was dead tired. GEDDIT? I welcomed becoming a zombie.

The game doesn’t end when you’ve been tagged!

You become a hungry hungry hippo! Wait….Zombie! A hungry hungry zombie, yay! I ran with renewed vigor after dumping my guns, and donning the green headband as a zombie. Go scare the heebie jeebies out of people and eat some humans! Nomnomnom. I missed out on noms since I died so late in the game, but next time…

Have fun

We’re a bunch of adults playing with toy guns and fake blood that tastes like chocolate. Chill.

Thank you to the Zedtown team – I have loved every game I ever played. I’m already planning a costume for next year. And considering bringing a GoPro….

ONE OF US, ONE OF US, ONE OF US.

This post originally appeared on Yvonne Lui’s blog