It’s a quiet October morning on the fourth floor of Lone Mountain. The halls are almost empty, with a few cautious students walking to the elevator or wandering groggily to and from the bathroom.
Amy Taylor walks out into the hallway, closing the door of her room behind her. A few minutes pass. A silence hangs over the hall. Suddenly, the sound of frantic footsteps. A piercing shriek. A dull whack. Silence returns.
Taylor hurries back into the room. “Shahed died,” she announces.
“What?” her roommate gasps in shock. “Seriously? When?”
“Oh,” Taylor laughs, realizing her mistake. “I meant in ‘Assassins.’”
Assassins, a live action game that is often popular on college campuses, took over Lone Mountain Hall during October. Senior and resident adviser (RA) Veronica Roberts ran the game, which, she said, she learned at summer camp during high school.
“Residents of Lone Mountain arranged their own games last year, and it was a rousing success,” said Roberts. “I shamelessly admit to copying them.”
There are no official rules for Assassins, and the game varies, but one of the basic tenets is that players are assigned targets, whom they must eliminate, or “kill,” by touching them with a designated “weapon” such as a spoon or water pistol, or, in the case of USF’s version, a pair of socks.
Roberts, taking on the title of Gamemaster, made all the decisions regarding gameplay. “I created the target pattern, made the rules, sent out daily emails reporting “deaths” of the day,” she said. She was also “prepared to settle disputes, but no one had any.”
The rules, outlined on a series of posters put up throughout the dorm and designed by junior and RA Bethany Goodrich, were simple: “You cannot kill someone while they are working. A kill cannot be completed during class. You cannot kill someone while they are in their personal residence hall room.”
Regarding the weapons: “A complete pair of socks must be used. These socks must be clean! These socks may not be the socks you were just wearing.” In addition to this, “Any way in which the target touches a pair of socks counts as a kill, whether you throw it at them, ask them to hold it, or secret it in a place they are likely to touch.”
Each player was given a card with the name of their target player on it. After killing this target, the assassin would take the card belonging to his or her victim, making the target on the card his or her new one.
Amy Taylor, sophomore nursing major and Lone Mountain resident, was one of the participants. “I loved the game! It was really exciting,” she said.
The night before Assassins officially began, envelopes with the names of targets were slipped underneath players’ doors. The game was on.
“During the first few nights the halls were crazy,” said Goodrich. “People were running, hiding, dodging socks, yelling and having a blast. The residents really took the game seriously.”
Over the course of the next week or two, the lives of the residents, particularly the 60 players, began to feel the effects of the game. Gamemaster Roberts grew more “sleep-deprived,” she said, and the players “got a little paranoid.” Some of them, said Goodrich, refused to leave their rooms. Suspicions arose, and measures of caution were taken.
“I know a bunch of people who took their names off their Facebook profiles so that their assassin couldn’t find out who they were or what they looked like, and a bunch of residents took their name decorations off of their door,” said Goodrich.
Taylor said, “I remember on the first day of the game, my friend was paranoid of everyone who walked by with their hands in their pockets and he kept checking his back.”
This paranoia proved infectious. “I became nervous too,” said Taylor. “On our walk back up to Lone Mountain we were wary. I watched people as they came toward me to decide if they were a threat.”
As time went on, the participants soon found that neither friends nor even RAs could be trusted.
“I actually had to kill one of my own residents, from my floor,” said Goodrich. “I had just spoken with her the night before about the game and felt incredibly guilty about having to kill her. I socked her in the elevator and therefore secured my status as worst RA ever.”
Assassins began going in for the kill. Some struck silently, and others engaged in pursuit.
Taylor said, “I made my first kill in Outtakes, which, as the game went on, proved to be a dangerous place for assassins. It wasn’t that dramatic but my heart was racing!”
“There was some kind of chase down in Outtakes around the shelves. It sounded rather Wile E. Coyote to me,” said Roberts.
Taylor’s second kill required more plotting. “She lived on the other side of my floor, and I decided that a good place to kill her would be in her bathroom,” she said. After going in and out of that bathroom a few times, waiting for her prey, Taylor said, “Finally, I saw her and made the kill.”
However, Taylor’s streak didn’t last, and eventually she fell, as did many others. Walking out of the dorm past Outtakes, Taylor saw her assassin coming towards her, texting. As she approached, the girl put her phone down, smiling at her. “I knew I was in trouble,” said Taylor, “but I had no route for escape.”
Taylor froze. “Are you Amy Taylor?” the girl asked.
“I shrieked while trying to shield myself with my bag,” Taylor said. “She showed no mercy.”
The assassinations went on, continuing past Fall Break. Finally, of the original 60 assassins, one remained: sophomore Omar Elmasri.
Elmasri was declared the winner and the Lone Assassin. “Besides the accolades and respect of his peers,” Roberts said, “he won a silver iPod shuffle engraved with his title.”
Life has returned to normal in the hallways of Lone Mountain. However, the game is not entirely over.
“The next game is going to be next semester,” said Roberts. “A lot of people felt that since it is so time-consuming, it would be better spread out.”
During the next game, the place of Gamemaster will be taken by another Lone Mountain RA. The rules may see some minor changes. “I am working on some way of allowing for self-defense kills, which is pretty hard with the card system,” said Roberts. “Also, I am also going to impose a rule that says you must make your first kill within three days of the game starting.”
However, what adjustments are made will be minor, because, as Goodrich said, “The game really went so smoothly that I don’t know if we can do anything to make it much better.”
“I was very pleased with the game. Most people seemed to enjoy it, and we managed to play without destroying campus life too much,” said Roberts. “Even residents who weren’t playing the game got interested as spectators, and many who didn’t play in this round expressed an interest in the next game.”
The exact dates of the next game remain undetermined; however, those who are interested may seek information by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.