Nov 2012

The Game Gets Better as the Players Get Tougher

We learned from the #safezone and #extrabite rule introductions (10am EST yesterday) that creativity works. Humans, for the moment, are writing to save their lives. Zombies are writing to feed. The game dynamics are friendlier to zombies at the moment, but the new #weapon rule (10pm EST last night) should start to change that. The humans feel so threatened, and they’re being so quiet.

At the same time, we think it’s time for a purge. This is the moment in the narrative, about the halfway point, where the humans should stop taking it on the chin and beat the zombies back, while zombies get more aggressive after inactive humans. To spur that along, let’s imagine a little story.

At the start of the game, it appears that many of the humans found an underground bunker that was relatively safe; they tried to stay very quiet. But you have to come out sometime. It’s probably really dark down there and it doesn’t smell good. I know that you’re scared, but the game needs you. The humans who bunkered in the library and elsewhere around TvsZville need reinforcements. And the zombies need a challenge. They just lean against stair railings and on front lobby couches with a sad ennui in their soulless eyes. It’s time for both sides to take action, to re-animate, and to organize together for the final 24 hours (well, really 27 hours) of TvsZ.

From the moment of this publication, we are instituting two new rules (see the Rules documents for a more legalistic presentation):
  • Non-Tweeting humans are fair game for biting and
  • Humans can drag others into their safezones.

The combination of the safezone rule and the weapon rule should permit a formidable human posse to organize. If you can reach it (i.e., take a photo of it and upload to twitter) you can use it, a car, a fishing pole, a rusty nail, etc., knocking a zombie out of commission for an hour. (latest rule change: 10am 11/11). Remember: even if you can only swipe (protect) someone once per hour, you can #weapon those zombies all day long from the bunker with pictures from your phone of homemade weapons. You can #swipe and #weapon zombies from inside the #safezones. So humans, go collect the remnants of your broken humanity. Drag them out of the cold and get ready for surging back.

Zombies, get ready to eat. Because those humans can’t protect EVERYone. We give you permission to #bite anyone who has tweeted less than 10 times since 4pmEST, November 9.

Twitter vs. Zombies: Best Practices

We’ve learned some things since the game began. People respond to things that are fun, especially when they also involve eating human flesh. They build community, they help each other out, they role play. They fumble around with tools they aren’t sure how to use. Now, after 18 hours, we want to collect some of the groupthink wisdom.

Reach out to others: Because of the limited numbers of bites, swipes, and dodges, it’s very hard to get anything done in the post-apocalypse on your own. During our human times, we waded warily onto Twitter, reaching out to others to provide back-up. If you’re registered, every tweet represents an entry into the game, so knowing who is online and can help you is key.

Drag your friends into the game: Humans can call on other humans to join the game. For example, “@JoeStommel I’ve just been bitten, dad, register at and save me with a #swipe in the next 5 mins.” But remember, once your friends have registered, they’re vulnerable. At this point, the game remains open for anyone to join, so think about pulling some folks in as defenders or as light snacks.

Band Together: Zombies work in packs. And, in order to survive, humans have to work in packs too. A follow-up #bite to a human that has just used a #dodge on another zombie attack can be quite effective. Likewise, keeping a few folks around with a #swipe handy is probably smart when you venture out as a human.

Think about visibility: Of course, in the real apocalypse, this will entail hiding behind cars and holing up in decrepit cellars. But in TvsZ, think about how hashtags function to broadcast your tweets. If you want to organize something VERY under the radar, you can use DM (direct messages) to people who also follow you. Even chatting openly with someone can be kind of quiet if you aren’t including the #TvsZ hashtag. If you are looking for some brains, you can search out humans in the game by finding their name in the chart and doing a Twitter search for the last time that they tweeted (search a user’s tweet stream by using a url like this: It does not matter whether they are using the game hashtag -- a tweet of any kind makes a human vulnerable.

Build a battle station: Use tweetdeck or hootsuite to watch hashtags. We recommend several columns, one each for #TvsZ, #TvsZ #bite, #TvsZ #dodge, and #TvsZ #swipe.

Watch the clock: Good strategy determines the difference between being turned and staying human, between a hungry zombie and a satisfied one. Humans have to be quiet about taking their leave of the game; they write their last tweet and they watch for five quiet minutes to see if they get bitten. Zombies can tell time too. If you’ve seen that a human has been quiet for a minute or two, wait until the player is close to 4 mins before biting. Five minutes goes by remarkably quickly. If you need back-up after you’re bitten, start those requests immediately. It takes people precious minutes to return tweets to you, and by then you might be undead.

Take risks: In order to stay in the game, you have to tweet at least ten times each day (whether with the #TvsS hashtag or not). Currently, we are reading that as the 24 hour time time period between midnight and midnight, leaving out the first half day of the game (Friday from 4pmEST-11:59EST). Any human who has registered for the game and remained inactive is risking starvation and a surprise #bite from the admins.

Watch the scoreboard: The community has added lots of columns to tally your spoils (meaty or otherwise). What’s most important, though, is that you know who your friends are (and who wants you dead).

Twitter vs. Zombies: Spirit of the Game

The first thing you should know about Twitter vs. Zombies is that this beta-version pedagogical-gaming experiment is self-legislating. You must follow the rules yourself, own up to mistakes, work towards consensus over disagreements, and maintain your own stats on the TvsZ scoreboard. If you have legitimate questions please ask, but try to solve problems first. Going up the chain will slow down the game. You can also use Google Docs to comment on the rules, add to the comments on this entry, or use #TvsZ to discuss.

The second thing: game play (ironically) depends on kindness. Players should be communal and patient. Yes, the action will be frenetic, especially at the beginning and the end, and some amount of reckless abandon is warranted, but be kind to each other. The Humans vs. Zombies community has, what it calls, the DBag rule. People who play Ultimate Frisbee call this “the spirit of the game.” Be nice, AND be fun.

The third thing: it’s your game as much as ours. The community that circulates around the game will, in some ways, construct and reform the game. You will have the ability to suggest new rules and challenges, to write narratives of “events” in the game (especially useful for players involved in DigiWriMo), and to assist in game administration. Own it!

If you don’t know something, someone else might. Float a question out there. Don’t know what hashtag to search? Don’t understand a particular rule? Ask. It’s possible that other folks in the game share your interests or sense of humor. Embrace those connections. Now, go have fun. But sleep with one eye open . . .