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From Games to Novels, Zombie Culture Hits Gambier

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2013 03:01


Rebecca Dann

Students maneuvered around the library last Friday night playing Humans vs. Zombies.


Zombies are sweeping the nation in novels, television series, blockbuster movies and video games. Now they’re descending on Gambier

Last Friday, Humans vs. Zombies took over Olin Library in an intense game of strategic Nerf gun combat that was expected to attract over 150 students. Only 35  members on each team showed, according to participant Madeline Thompson ’16. 

Monica Lee ’16 orchestrated this year’s event, part two of a three-part series of games. The event, first held in 2005, is put on by a group of students focused on funding other colleges’ Humans vs. Zombies events, spreading the culture and providing entertainment. 

Author and Kenyon alumnus Scott Kenemore ’00 was thrilled to hear about Kenyon’s interest in zombies. 

“I got into zombies really when I was a Kenyon student,” Kenemore explained in a phone interview. “When I was at Kenyon the only zombie culture was just three guys in a woodland cottage watching George Ramiro movies and drinking beers.”

Kenemore’s novel, Zombie, Ohio is “pretty explicitly a story about a Kenyon professor who turns into a zombie during a zombie outbreak. It’s very, very centered on Kenyon,” he said.

Thirteen years after Kenemore’s graduation, Kenyon has turned into a zombie-accepting locale. 

“I think Kenyon has an untapped resource ... like an untapped culture that people don’t realize is a culture, so whenever I bring it up it’s more like, yeah, I do like that, and people don’t realize that as a collective, people enjoy nerfing [and zombies,” Lee said.

The undead are a brand of supernatural whose personalities aren’t as overt as vampires or werewolves. 

“In contrast to vampires,” Kenemore said, “who are very high-maintenance and dramatic and wear fancy clothes and ‘Oh, let me invite you to my castle in Transylvania and we’ll have wine and bisexuality and it’ll be very decadent,’ zombies are sort of like the blue-collar workers of the monster world.”

Vampires are blatantly sexual: they sparkle in the sun (according to Twilight), apparently a sensual trait; they have hard stone bodies and seemingly endless amounts of money. On the other hand, zombies are dead, eat brains and often wear clothing that looks like the result of foreplay with Edward Scissorhands. 

Upon entering the Humans vs. Zombies game, Michael Michnowicz ’16 addressed the topic of zombies as the new vampires.

Zombies are the new vampires, Michnowicz said, “but with less sex appeal.”

Perhaps the cultural revolution of zombies is truly a new phenomenon. Nobody, however, can deny how quickly vampires entered society as the number one “monster,” sexually eclipsing other scientific phenomena such as the Yeti, centaurs, unicorns, fairies and King Kong. Zombies have been working their way up the ladders of society, climbing out of their deep, ancient graves and entering mainstream media as the new it-character, dominating movies such as Warm Bodies,  novels such as Kenemore’s and TV shows like The Walking Dead

In light of last Friday’s Humans vs. Zombies game, Kenyon is evidently very aware of the cultural domination of the popular undead. With new movies, more games and novels from Kenemore, zombies may just be making a permanent shift to the first-place supernatural figure in modern day culture. 

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