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Game captures campus attention

Approximately 120 students played in the year’s first game of Capture the Flag.

As buses drove down Washington Avenue Southeast on Friday night, many passengers turned their heads to watch students with orange headbands chase students with white ones as they stormed a flag near the bus station.

“Whites on bikes!” the orange team screamed as several students with white headbands pedaled down the street toward the white flag.

The students were playing the first game of campuswide Capture the Flag this school year. Approximately 120 students participated in the game Friday on Northrop Mall. The game is played every two weeks.

The students met in front of Northrop Auditorium at 9 p.m. to go over the rules for new players and split the group into teams of approximately 45 people each. Students played two roughly hour-long games Friday.

Tearing orange or white T-shirts into headbands, late arrivals and interested students joined in as the game progressed.

“I am tickled pink you all came to play tonight,” said environmental horticulture senior and game coordinator Andrew Joyer.

Many students in the crowd had attended every game since it began in March 2004.

Charlie Swan, a computer engineering senior, said he heard about the first game from friends and has played every game since.

He said he sacrifices a weekend evening to play because the game is really fun and he is able to meet great people, including a lot of “hot girls.”

“I like to party, but let’s not kid ourselves – this will be better,” Swan said.

Jesse Engebretson, an environmental studies and anthropology senior, said he and another student organized the first game in 2004 after he played a game of Capture the Flag at another college.

“I played a game with 30 or so people and thought it would be really cool to play at the University,” he said.

Engebretson said the game reminded him of being a kid and starting unorganized games with friends.

“The game harkens back to a time when games weren’t organized by parents or city club teams,” he said. “It is really dynamic because the rules change as the game goes along.”

The first game was advertised primarily through word-of-mouth, fliers, and an announcement on Radio K, Engebretson said.

“The first game we made 84 headbands and we ran out,” he said.

Engebretson said the game is fulfilling because it draws a lot of different students who just want to play and meet new people.

“The crowd is so diverse and usually not people who would hang out with each other otherwise,” he said.

People keep coming back because of the unstructured nature of the game, Engebretson said.

“It’s pretty chaotic, but people who come to play respect the few rules we have,” he said. “Once things get going, it organizes itself out.”

The teams made elaborate plans of attack Friday, with decoy groups and stampedes of players toward the flag. One team drove up to the flag in a car and a player was able to grab the flag before being tagged.

Attire for the game varies, with some players arriving in full-out Ninja costumes and others sporting skirts and bare feet.

Micah Frerck, a biomedical engineering and pre-med junior, leaned against the brick wall overlooking the bus stop opposite Coffman, staring at the flag below. He was frozen after being tagged while pursuing his team’s flag.

“I like the adrenaline,” he said. “Every time I have played I had fun.”

Despite the large number of students running around campus at night, the police have not heard of any problems, said Steve Johnson, deputy police chief for the University Police Department.

“If people are playing a game that doesn’t freak people out or make people think something dangerous is going on, we probably wouldn’t hear about it,” he said.

At one point in the game, a University police car driving through the mall area helped Frerck get closer to the flag.

“He was driving by Kolthoff (Hall), so I waved him down and asked if I could ride in the car,” he said. “He told me I could just hold on to the side of the car and use it as a barrier.”

Engebretson said the police should have better priorities than monitoring a game on campus.

“We aren’t getting alcohol poisoning in our dorm rooms, we are just having wholesome fun,” he said.

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