Art by Zita Walker.
The horde is behind us. We sprint past some parked cars and two of the creatures leap out. I weave to the right. Everything is slow now. I fire twice, and one goes down. My gun is dry. I switch weapons clumsily, fumbling to get the barrel pointing at the remaining enemy. The thing flinches. Shayma shoots it in the back.
This is Zedtown, the world’s biggest zombie survival game. Gameplay sprawls over much of the Sydney University campus, with important gameplay hubs in Holme, Carslaw, Physics, and Manning. Over 700 players competed this year, and the overarching goal was a simple one: don’t get bit. Along the way, missions and side-quests and a host of NPCs added a welcomesenseofpurpose.Anewgame mechanic was introduced this time around, with players being sorted into one of three factions at the start of the game. Each faction had its own base, its own banner, and its own non-player characters. It was fascinating to watch the nervous cycles of peace and war roll on between the Golden Sands and their nefarious foes.
The immersive nature of the game drew in the players, and gave the battles and intrigues which unfolded a sense of moral and dramatic weight. Several times I experienced the bodily sensation of being present at a truly significant event: the betrayal and capture of Lieutenant Atlas, the surrender of the perfidious Red Earth Raiders to the mighty Golden Sands, the fall of the Prophet, the massacre of Physics Road. These are memories I will hold dear, and I daresay they will be spoke of in taverns for years to come.
Interspersed between these terrific thunder claps was a heavy silence. In it, I felt the sluggish weariness of battle, and the unique exhaustion that fills one’s limbs after hours of constant alertness. The fatigue stretched out the hours, and added to the somber weight of the valiant charges and narrow escapes.
Zedtown was a roaring good time. I forged new friendships, failed a diplomatic mission, and became enveloped in surging crowds. And I got to shoot the greatest zombie of all, James Wilson.
Live in faith, die in glory.