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Hill residents play ‘Assassins’ game

College is a transition period after which children become adults, but during college, students are caught in an in-between state. They have the intelligence and ambitions of adults, but the imaginations and energies of children. They want to play like children and work like adults simultaneously. This results in students taking to childhood pastimes with childhood purpose while maintaining the focused intensity of a career.

This phenomenon was arguably manifested during the intense opening weekend of a game of Assassins on the Hill.

Assassins is a live-action game in which participants use mock weapons — in this case plastic spoons — to “kill” other players by hitting them in the back or neck. Each player has a target that he or she must assassinate, and after one assassinates the target, one then moves on to the target’s target. This process goes on until there is only one player left alive. As such, at any point in the game, each player has exactly one assassin attempting to kill them and, simultaneously, a second player whom they must assassinate. Players can defend against their own assassins by hitting them with a spoon, which “stuns” the assassin and gives the player immunity for one hour. Some areas, such as classrooms and restrooms, are also considered safe zones where players are not allowed to kill each other.

“By Feb. 20 [the day it started], we had 47 people signed up. The first deadline for killing the first target was Wednesday the 24th. By then, 33 of the 47 people playing had already been assassinated,” said first-year general MCS major Keyan Sadeghi, who is hosting the game.

Though the game is time-consuming, the rules stress that it is ultimately just a game — making it ideal for college campuses. As of the time of writing, H&SS first-year Christopher Sparks and first-year science and humanities scholar Chelsea Hulse are tied for the most kills at five.

“Getting kills was easy because people post so much stuff on Facebook.... I had no trouble finding an image somewhere of who I was after,” said Sparks. “The circle of friends also matters a lot because there are some people you just can’t avoid.... Trusting them as they trust you is just a less stressful way to go. In return, they can help you spot your target and protect you as needed.”

But for all of Sparks’ preparation and strategy, his assassin, Hulse, actually had little intention of killing him initially.

“At first, [the game] wasn’t something I thought of all the time. On the first day, I was pretty busy, hadn’t read the rules yet ... so I wasn’t really motivated to play,” she explained. “However, when I accidentally let a friend [Sparks] in my building so that he could kill his target, I realized that he was, in fact, my target. I just learned his last name as he walked into the building.”

Sparks stunned Hulse before she could assassinate him, but Hulse was quickly motivated to try again. “I was ready to follow up and get my first kill,” Hulse said.
“On Sunday night, three of my ‘associates’ and I were in my dorm and one of my classmates came in, saying that my next target was back on campus,” said Sparks. “When we went out into the Hamerschlag lounge, my frontman didn’t see my assassin [Hulse] hiding behind the vending machines waiting for me.”

“One thing led to another, and on the night I planned to kill my one target [Sparks], I ended up killing two successive targets as well, getting three kills in one night,” Hulse said.

Currently, Hulse is still “alive” and has accumulated five kills so far. “Now that I’m a key player in the game, I am more motivated to stay in it. We’ll see what happens,” Hulse said.

With a little more than a quarter of the original participants remaining by the end of the first week, Sadeghi wonders if the game will last the duration of the semester. “Maybe the last people alive will play very carefully, which might extend the game for a while.”