BY Devin Ream
EUGENE, Ore. – In the wasteland of Undead Oregon, Ben Young is just trying to survive.
Walking through a basement hallway in the University of Oregon’s Lawrence Hall, Young is trying to get away from the very things that have attacked him every day for a week.
It is the final day, and like the other survivors, he just wants to finish the last mission and donate all the funds he has received.
That is the beauty of Undead Oregon, a game that helps raise money for the Red Cross.
It offers fulfillment for three different yet related pastimes: It’s the largest Nerf gun war imaginable; it’s a real-life adaptation of the video game Left 4 Dead; and it provides the participants an opportunity to live out the fantasy of playing a full-scale Call of Duty match in real-time with weapons that inflict no pain.
It being the grandest Nerf gun war was the reason Young joined the game.
“It is like having the biggest Nerf gun war that you dreamed of as a kid,” Young said. “Except, there are more guns, ammo and it is on a scale that is so much bigger than your living room or backyard.”
Young wakes up every morning strapping the orange cloth on his arm, signifying that he is a human—not a zombie.
Zombies have to put the orange cloth around their heads—unless they are stunned; then they’re expected to put it around their necks.
“I wake up and start walking to class, and then the paranoia kicks in,” Young said. “You have to be paranoid or more than likely you will get tagged when you are coming out of buildings or when you think you are just talking to friends on campus.”
“It helps you focus on something other than school, midterms, or finals. It just makes it to where you can play a game and still get your daily routine done,” he said.
The game is very physically demanding for Young, even though he is a runner most of the time.
“I think the best weapon in the game are running shoes,” Young said. “The Nerf guns and socks help, but in a bind I always can run away from anything that tries to get me.”
On the final mission, a zombie tagged Young with only two minutes left in the game.
“The last mission was the best part of the entire game,” he said. “It felt like it was more planned out, and I got to actually feel like I was heading towards a real goal instead of the paranoia on most days.”
Young helped raise money for the Red Cross; and he got to live out the fantasy of playing the ultimate Nerf war.
For Young, it is a win-win situation.
And when the game is over, he gets to go back to his other daily routines of classes and running.
“Next year, in the fall, I am doing this again,” Young said. “It is too fun to pass up.”