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CSLC introduces language element to Humans Vs Vampires

| Monday, November 2, 2015

Beginning today, Notre Dame’s campus will be the site of an epic battle between humans and vampires.

Tuesday marks the first day of the annual Humans vs. Vampires game, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures (CSLC). According to Joachim Castellano, technology and administrative program manager for the CSLC, the game will run through Saturday and ends with an awards ceremony Sunday.

“Basically, it’s a game of tag,” Castellano said. “There are two teams, the Humans and the Vampires, and every student who participates will be assigned to one team. [Each team] has to kill each other. There are five missions throughout the games that take place at night, so [students] will see a lot of people running around shooting NERF guns at each other.”

According to Castellano, this is the second year the CSLC has sponsored the event. Before the CSLC took over the event, it was sponsored by the Student Activities Office (SAO), he said.

Denise Ayo, assistant director for academic programs for the CSLC, said after the center took over the game, they began to incorporate foreign language elements into game play.

“For example, [players] receive clues or directions in, for example, German or another foreign language offered at Notre Dame,” Ayo said. “Last year, they had [a mission] where you had to take a big heavy box of dirt across campus. When the humans arrived to figure out their mission, the person there to describe the mission only spoke Korean. So they were sitting there talking in Korean. Also, there are hidden items that will help [members of the team] and give [players] immunity, but the riddles to find [these items] will be in a foreign language.”

Originally Humans vs. Zombies was played on Notre Dame’s campus, Ayo said. However, after the CSLC became involved with the game, the center changed the game to Humans vs. Vampires, as Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” is one of the most widely translated texts in the world.

“You can find ‘Dracula’ in Catalan, German, French — all the languages we teach and have instructors here that speak the language,” she said. “That’s why we made the switch from zombies to vampires.”

According to Ayo, the “Dracula” aspect of the game and the foreign language aspect of the game intersect throughout play time and during the awards ceremony.

“[The game] culminates in a public reading of Dracula in the various languages, which is really exciting,” Ayo said. “It’s the biggest event where students can really interact with the professors. We have professors reading from the texts, we have peer tutors reading from the text, we have foreign language teaching assistants reading from the texts. It’s a great way to integrate students who don’t come into [the CSLC] normally and they come to get their awards and pizza and talk about the game and then they are exposed to foreign language.”

Castellano said the main goal of the CSLC is to get students involved with foreign languages. Though the foreign language requirement varies depending on a student’s college, the CSLC wants to engage all students in the study of languages, and this game is a way for the CSLC to reach out to every student, regardless of their language requirement, or lack thereof.

“We want students to be passionate about learning a foreign language, so we try to expose students to learning and practicing a language outside of the classroom,” Castellano said. “For anyone who really takes up a foreign language, there are a lot of opportunities to fall in love with it when you are using it in real life. It becomes less of an academic exercise and more like something that is part of everyday life.”

By incorporating elements of foreign language into a fun game, Castellano said he believes the center can reach more students.

“This event creates a space to use languages in a game-like environment, and we are basically trying to say to Notre Dame students that learning a language is a lot of fun — it is more than what you do in the classroom, and it can open up your world to different opportunities in your life,” he said. “It might start with a Humans vs. Vampires game, but hopefully it will inspire students to study foreign language more deeply and it may lead them to a future career or future life.”

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