Proving that the state Capitol doesn’t have a monopoly on craziness, Montana State University students launched a war Thursday between Humans and Zombies.

“I gotta get out and kill people!” said Original Zombie Kalin Warford, 21, a junior philosophy major, upon learning that there are cool prizes at stake.

Described as “the most awesome game of tag you’ll ever play,” Humans vs. Zombies pits about 150 Humans – armed with Nerf guns, balled-up socks and marshmallows – against just two Original Zombies.

The outnumbered Zombies have a huge advantage, however.

When tagged, Zombies have to sit out for 15 minutes — but then rise from the dead and attack again. Over the course of the weeklong game, time is definitely not on the Humans’ side.

“It’s easy to get a Zombie out,” Warford said, “but we keep coming.”

“The Zombies won last time,” said Emily Merkis, 18, an Original Zombie and freshman in computer engineering. “It’s just a fun thing to do. You get to be a kid again.”

Zombie games are popular on college campuses across the nation. It came to MSU two and a half years ago, said Searra Donnelly, president of the TAG club and a senior in psychology from Kalispell. A Zombie Apocalypse is held every semester, and up to 400 people have joined in.

As of mid-afternoon Thursday, the number of Zombies had already grown to seven. Human players wear bandanas as armbands. Once killed and turned into Zombies, the bandanas are worn on their heads. No one is allowed to shoot bystanders wearing headbands as a fashion statement.

Longhaired Micah Workman, who’s graduating next month in math and computer science, was helping to run the game, which has a number of rules. One is that Zombies can’t be shot indoors or within 10 feet of a door. So standing in front of the Renne Library doors was safe.

The secret to not getting killed is “constant vigilance,” Workman said. He likes the game because “it’s a real good opportunity to meet people.”

“It’s a great stress relief,” said Jesse Matthew, a freshman majoring in film.

The biggest rule is don’t be a jerk, the Zombies said. Last time, tacks were found attached to the soft spongy Nerf darts, and that’s definitely forbidden, Merkis said.

Another rule, Merkis said, is that Original Zombies can disguise themselves as human by wearing an armband, but they cannot directly lie if asked, “Are you a Zombie?”

She has learned to give misleading answers instead of outright lies.

Just one of many skills that could prepare today’s young Zombies for working in the Legislature.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie,” Workman said, “teaming up to fight people.”

Gail Schontzler can be reached at or 582-2633.