You may have seen figures in dark clothing lurking around campus at night, hiding behind buildings and bushes. It’s all in the name of a game, but not just any game. This is TCNJ Manhunt.
“Manhunt a game of strategy, wits and cunning,” Rudy Basso, freshman English major, said. “It’s not for the weak.”
For those unfamiliar with manhunt, the game is a combination of hide-and-seek and tag that is played in the dark.
The premise is relatively simple – one team hides while the other seeks. Members of the seeking team have to tag members of the hiding team, and the team that catches the most players wins.
Manhunt is now an official campus organization, and it has garnered an enthusiastic following. Over 130 people gathered at Brower Student Center for the first game of the year. Last week’s game attracted over 120 players despite unfavorable weather conditions. TCNJ Manhunt also has its own ever-expanding group on facebook.com.
The club’s executive board includes Chris Rindosh, senior mechanical engineering major and president of TCNJ Manhunt, Brian Schlesinger, senior electrical engineering major and club vice president, Shawn Silverstein, senior biology major and club treasurer. Last spring, they organized a manhunt game among friends. The game ended up drawing over 70 people through word of mouth, and Schlesinger and Siverstein thought it would work well as an organized club.
Manhunt games take place about every two weeks, on Friday or Saturday nights. Players meet at the student center and split into teams, which are designated by red or blue armbands.
The area of game play is limited to inside the Metzger loop, barring any parking lots, construction sites and interiors of buildings. The teams set out on two to three rounds of hiding and seeking, which typically last until midnight.
Many players show an intense dedication to the game. Rindosh, Schlesinger and a few others show up to play dressed in camouflage. Silverstein covers his face like a ninja.
“It’s a way of life,” Dan Scapardine, freshman political science major, said of manhunt. “It’s about survival of the fittest.”
Steven Conlon, freshman open options major in the School of Business, claims to “eat, breathe and drink manhunt.”
A number of participants declined to comment on the game, in order to prevent revealing their strategies or hiding spots.
The vast majority of players are students from the College, but other people can play as well.
“I think it’s awesome that people do this, especially in college,” Patti Snair, a junior at Old Bridge High School, said. “It’s the most random idea ever. It’s completely ridiculous and I love it. I chased some guy into a tree last week.”
Joyce Lee, freshman English elementary education major, said the best part of manhunt is the social experience.
“There’s no club that’s better than this,” she said. “The executive board members are all good friends and they’re all really passionate about the game. It’s great because it gives people something to do instead of partying. It brings off-campus kids here, and it’s a great way to meet people.”
But there are even more plusses.
“(The club) also promotes leadership, because people who are usually really shy get into it,” Lee said. “And it promotes friendly competition. You’ll see people around school from the other team, and you can joke and try to intimidate them, and you’ll have that bond from manhunt.”
Rindosh, Schlesinger and Silverstein agree that the best part of manhunt is the bond that people form from playing these games.
“You get a lot of good stories out of manhunt,” Rindosh said. “And you meet so many people. I’ll see someone around campus, and I’ll recognize him because I found him hiding in the bushes behind Armstrong.”
“It’s especially good for freshmen because they’ll come with their floor,” Schlesinger said. “It gives people something to do on the weekends.”
Future plans for the club include variations on the game of manhunt, including games like capture the flag and jailbreak. They urge anyone interested to come out and join the game.