The Host The Host

Published on January 21st, 2013 | by deb polson

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The Host and their Minions

The Host is a mysterious all-seeing character in the tradition of the ‘G Man’ (Half Life), ‘Silence’ (Dr Who), ‘MIB’, ‘Observer’ (Fringe) and ‘Agent Smith’ (Matrix). Once the applicants are accepted as ‘Survivors’, The Host offers them safe haven from the infected city (see acceptance letter below sent by email) on the condition that the Survivors follow The Program without question. The origin and intentions of the Host are never revealed. However, it is clear that they control the site with the help of contracted security staff and medics. It is also clear that the Host and their staff are immune to the Infected (Zombies).

Note: I decided very early in the design process to make it explicit that this event was indeed a game; a game of wits, problem solving, physical challenges, and strategy, that could deviate at any time depending on the outcomes of particular scenes and on the whim of the Host. Traditionally, events of this type proclaim ‘This is Not a Game’ in an effort to maintain the presented narrative and role-playing aspect. However, it has been my experience with ‘Alternate Reality Game’ events, that it is not as important to maintain narrative integrity as it is to provide a structure and rules as a stable setting for creative, collaborative and competitive commitment. As with Dungeon Masters, The Host characters were not active players during the event, their main role was to guide the structure and rules of the Event; meaning I could design any challenge without limits of servicing an ongoing narrative and subsequently, could change and design new scenarios on-the-fly as a direct and authentic response to the players actions and re-actions.


The Liaison (Deb Polson) acted as proxy for the Host and was the only character that could command the Security, Medics, Survivors and Infected.

Note: Normally the Liaison communicated via a PA system that had access to every room on site. The Liaison was in a Command Room where she could have control over the PA, the sound effects, music, door locks and walkie-talkies (the Security, Lead Zombie, Medics and prop department all had access to walkie-talkies).

The Security Contractors  (Lee Campbell Smith, Daniel Morton, Anthony Hayes and Miles Whiticker) answer to The Host via the Host Liaison. The Security were charged with keeping the Survivors safe, but from a distance. They could only intervene in extreme circumstances.

Note: The Security Contractors were recruited from a local nerf group and from the local Umbrella Corp group. Not only did they play a vital role in the Event, but they also were critical to the design of strategic challenges such as setting up Capture The Flag scenarios and rules.

The Medics are at the command of The Host and interact very rarely with the Survivors. After a number of Zombie attacks the Survivors start to recognize most of the Medics amoungst the Horde… clearly attacked and turned.



About the Author

The lead designer of the 2011 and 2012 Zombie Apocalypse hosted at the Edge, Brisbane.



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