Zombie King

by Michael Bean on October 31, 2011

Meanwhile, in honor of Halloween, you should know about Zombie Tag (if you don’t already). About 24 years ago some young friends and I adapted a game from the New Games books – a game that was called “Vampire” in which people would go around with their eyes closed turning others into vampires. Well, I developed an open-eyes version that was rough enough for a group of energetic school kids to play at recess (and for me and my kids and their friends to play). Although originally called Freddie Tag – after Freddie Krueger, the villain of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies – it has apparently swept the country as Zombie Tag. Unfortunately, it got banned on many school campuses for of fear of lawsuit I presume—(Did I mention it could be rough?).

Zombie Tag, when played Michael Bean style, is the game version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and it works like this. One person is the Zombie King for the whole game—only he/she has the power to create other zombies. The Zombie King chases people around in a pre-defined area with clear boundary lines. When he/she touches someone on the skin, or sees anybody out of bounds, the person touched or seen out of bounds becomes a zombie minion (it’s fun when someone caught stick his/her arms out mummy style and act the part for a minute when first transformed). The created zombies can’t turn other people into zombies—only the king can do that—but their job is to go and grab people (we talk about safe and unsafe ways to grab people) and hold them for the king and shout for him/her (“King! We got one over here!” etc.) until the King comes over and touches the victim’s skin–thus further spreading the disease. Living people can pull zombies off of other humans and effect rescues, and it gets increasingly hard to stay alive until even the fastest, squirreliest players are overwhelmed by sheer numbers, and the last person to turn into a zombie gets to be the new king (or gets to choose the new king if he/she doesn’t want the job). Sound fun? It is.

Michael Bean

Bernie notes: If you’re interested in the Vampire game that Michael suggests and can’t find a copy of The New Games Book, you’ll find the following description of the game in Deep Fun: Games and Activities (PDF) (the Deep Fun publication, by the way, is from the Unitarian Universalist Church, not from me – a publication that I gleefully recommend, as it is in precisely the kind of spirit that this site is dedicated to).

Parameters: 15 to 40 people and an enclosed, large space free of sharp objects

This will help all of you Unitarians get back to your Transylvanian roots. Choose one person to be the referee. Everyone except the referee closes his or her eyes and begins milling around the room. The referee will keep you from colliding with anything but warm, living flesh. They will also pick one person to be the vampire and whisper it in her ear. The vampire keeps their eyes closed like everyone else, but when she bumps into someone, there’s a difference. She snatches him and lets out a blood-curdling scream. Then he becomes a vampire as well. He is now on the prowl, seeking new victims. Only when two vampires snatch and feast on each other by mistake do they transform themselves back into regular mortals. Continue playing until your voices are hoarse.

This is a very silly game, which I, of course, highly endorse.


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{ 1 comment }

Michael October 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Soon we hope to experiment with an indoor version of Zombie Tag. Players will first practice playing tag with an item balanced on their heads, then play Zombie Tag. My thanks to the Unitarian’s “Deep Fun” manual, and to every one who contributed to it, for that idea.

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