Soapbox – HvZ@ANU or how my love of toy blasters spreads goodwill to the world.

So without trying to make excuses, you’re all getting somewhat of a filler post this week. I’m currently in process of moving house and while all my blasters are all boxed up, I actually took a heap of photos to do walkthroughs with in the interim until the new garage was set up. Unfortunately, I forgot to take into account that I wouldn’t have a real internet connection at the new house initially 😦

So, coming to you from my desk at work during lunch time, I present to you a piece I wrote for the ‘2011 Urban Taggers Christmas Giveaway’. The topic was to send Pocket a letter, a photo, a video or some other way of ‘how your love of Urban Taggers and toy blasters spreads goodwill to the world’. Hope you all enjoy my take on how toy blasters made my world a better place.

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HvZ first came to the Australian National University in 2009, the third year of my Commerce degree. I had a decent group of friends I hung out with while at uni, exclusively made up of people I had gone to school with previously and people they had met through uni themselves. I had very few friends within my own degree and even fewer outside of the group I already knew before coming to uni. I found out about HvZ a few weeks before it kicked off through a lecturer of mine, talked to some of my mates and we decided to give it a go. None of us owned any blasters at this stage but we were told that Target was having a sale the following week. We all did our research regarding what blaster to pick up, met up at 8am the opening morning of the sale and grabbed an assortment of blasters between us. I decided to grab a BuzzBee Tommy 20 and BeltBlaster for myself for the game, and also picked up a Nerf Vulcan for my little brother’s birthday the following week.

PhotobucketMe at the Canberra Centre, about 8:30am with blasters for a bunch of people

A few days later we trucked along to the sign-up day, threw our $5 down to play and put our names down on the sheet. My friends and I decided to form a squad, Paranoia in Pajenkas (PiP), and had a jolly good time doing it. We had few people I hadn’t known before HvZ join us, but the squad was mostly my friends and I.

The game start rolled around and all of our brilliantly formed plans, and our squad, very quickly fell apart. Fortunately however, you immediately made friends with complete strangers simply because they were human. It didn’t matter what degree they were doing, how far through it they were, if they lived on or off campus; all that mattered was if their bandanna was on their arm as opposed to their head. I met more people in those first three days of HvZ than I had in the previous two and a half years of uni.

PhotobucketPrime example here; that’s me on the far left with the BeltBlaster.
Before the game I knew two other people in this photo, over two years after the game and I can still name all but one of them.

I ended up surviving right to the very end of the game, and while I’m quite proud of my efforts, when I look back on the good times we had it’s the people who made it magical. Sure surviving was great and I’d never have it any other way, but in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter. The friends I met during that four day period are still some of my closest friends over two years on. However it wasn’t just the human side where these friendships were forming. My housemate at the time was turned fairly early and he still had an absolute ball, and made a completely different set of friends to me (funnily enough, predominantly zombies).

During the next six months while we all prepared for game two, it was incredible how many people I suddenly knew (or strangely, knew me). You almost couldn’t go to go to class without seeing someone from HvZ on the way there and someone else in your class too! I then started to get more involved in the administration side of the game, I even volunteered to be a moderator, and this is when the real friendships started to form. I spent an incredible amount of time with the other moderators, the executive of the club and the people who just wanted to help out. Most of the moderators practically lived together for the week of the game, often spending 10-12 hours a day with each other. Yes tempers flared on occasion and we had many a disagreement over in-game stuff, but looking back on it now almost two years later, I honestly can’t think of a better way to have spent that time.

PhotobucketMitch, myself and Glenn playing the roles of NPC’s during Game 2.

I could go on for hours here detailing the lead up, execution and aftermath of each game we played, and of course the unfortunate demise of the club, but I’m pretty sure you’ll all understand what I’m trying to say here. HvZ brought people together. It let first year students interact with post grads, it provided a reason for Engineering students talk to Art students, it gave ‘townies’ an excuse to get to know some of the ‘on campus’ folk; all without any form of prejudice. It instantly broke down social barriers and certainly made the university a better place for it.

Personally, HvZ was without a shadow of a doubt, the best experience of my time at university and probably the time of my life so far. I met so many people from such a wide range of backgrounds that I never would have encountered otherwise, all because we had these silly little foam dart blasters in common. I’ve since picked up blasters as a legitimate hobby and continue to play to this day, but I have many close friends who couldn’t care less about the blasters, yet still unconditionally love the game. Plenty of people met their now partners through HVZ, while countless more made good honest friendships. The camaraderie we all share to this day is incredible and I have a bunch of plastic guns to thank for that. So thank you Nerf and BuzzBee; thank you ANU for letting us play as long as you did; thank you to the original club founders for introducing us to this brilliant game; thank you to everyone who played and made it oh so special; and thank you Pocket from Urban Taggers for providing the motivation for me to write this, it’s brought back a lot of great memories.

PhotobucketEnd of Game 3, complete with me walking away from the camera (obviously on purpose to show off my awesome cape and not at all because I didn’t know they were taking the photo yet…)

Joe

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One thought on “Soapbox – HvZ@ANU or how my love of toy blasters spreads goodwill to the world.

  1. Just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading that ‘filler’ post. I modded the prize for the competition… but sadly didn’t get to see any of the entries, so this was a real treat for me, thank you 🙂

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