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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Nerf or nothin’:’ now or never

Published: January 28, 2011
Section: Features

Students who wander into the Shapiro Campus Center this evening at 9 p.m. will find themselves in the middle of a war zone—a Nerf gun war zone that is.

The war will be the main event of Game Knight’s weekly meetings. The Brandeis club, which formerly spelled it’s name “Game Night” until it decided that “knight with a K, like a mounted knight looks cooler,” spends its Friday nights “playing all the group games like the ones you play on the playground in kindergarten,” club leader Jesse Appell ’12 said.

The club, which explicitly does not play video games, plays a range of interactive games from charades and mafia to more active games like “the floor is lava.” The idea for a “giant Nerf war” came after the Student Union Finance Board allocated $500 to the club.

“We have 15 hand guns, and the rest are big rifles or air pump guns,” Appell said. “It is going to be utter madness.”

Indeed, the war will be fought in two parts, or battles. The first will be “a giant free-for-all” in which students will simply shoot as many people as possible with their Nerf guns.

“If you get shot, you get shot—it’s like a pillow fight,” Appell said. “It’s no problem if you get hit, just hit someone else.”

Later, participants will play in “capture the flag scenarios” with a flag placed in the center of the Shapiro Atrium as fighters try to bring the flag back to home base without getting shot.

In order to facilitate the evening of Nerf warfare, Game Knight will bring furniture into the atrium to transform the space into a battlefield, complete with overturned tables that can act as shields.

The bulk of the play will take place on the atrium floor. Students can take the elevator to the second floor—during capture the flag some students will be allowed to throw plush balls down at the players below— but running up the stairs will not be allowed for safety reasons. Students will not necessarily be restricted from taking the elevator to the third floor for play, however Appell said “it doesn’t have the best angles for shooting anyway.” Game Knight will also have referees posted at various levels of the building to make sure the play is fair.

“Part of the fun is how does the game evolve, how does that work for fairness,” Appell said. “Strategy plays a large part in these games.”

Even so, Appell said he has his eye on a Game Knight-bought Nerf gun that can shoot up to 20 darts in 1.5 seconds.

Though some members of Game Knight originally wanted to have the Nerf gun war in the Castle because the dorm’s curvaceous corridors would be conducive to an all-out war, they decided to relocate to the Atrium in order to foster a larger event.

“As far as I know, this is the largest nerf-gun war we’ve ever had at Brandeis,” he said. So far, the Facebook event for the Nerf war has 61 confirmed attendees.

In addition to the 30 recently purchased Game Knight guns, many of the clubs members will be bringing gun stashes of their own for non-gun-owners to borrow for the fight.

“That’s the kind of club we are,” Appell said of the cooperative nature of the club. “We share our guns.”

“One of the core points of Game Knight is that skill is not important,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter if you hit a single person at the Nerf gun war, we still want you here.”