On Friday night, the Student Activities Committee hosted a campus-wide game of Persecution. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the game, allow me to fill you in: Persecution seeks to mimic to some extent the lives of the early Anabaptists as they fled religious persecution in the 16th century. The point of the game is to work one’s way from safe house to safe house (located in different areas around campus) without getting tagged by a person carrying a broom. If one is tagged, one must go to the jail, where the jailer subjects the prisoners to ridiculous rules. A prisoner may be set free from jail, but only at the jailer’s discretion. Once a person has been to all six safe houses, they receive the password to “heaven.” The game is played at night, wearing all black, and the “Anabaptists” travel in groups of 4 to 10, depending on whom in the group has already been tagged. Essentially, it’s a giant game of Tag, with multiple people who are “it,” and lots of secret passwords.
This was my first time playing Persecution, and it was a really interesting game, far more intense than I had thought it would be. “Scary” isn’t the right word, but there’s something to be said for slipping down the road behind the maintenance shed with your companions, spotting someone with a broom, trying to decide whether or not to go for it or wait and hope, then that last super fast walk to the safe house (no running allowed). There’s the nerve-wracking “Is that person in the shadows a friend or someone with a broom?” and the sigh of relief and the “peace be with you, brother/sister” that accompanies the discovery of a fellow “Anabaptist.” There’s the slipping quietly through the shadows, diving into bushes or behind/under cars, hurrying as quickly as possible across open spaces, mapping out the best route to the next safe house, and the constant surveying of the campus, watching for black-garbed movement. We all knew that the persecutors were our friends and classmates and that the jailer was none other than the affable RD Peter Miller, but our Anabaptist ancestors had no such luxury, and their trip to jail was far more significant than ours. Persecution is a classic game and great teaching tool that shows participants just a little bit of what our predecessors suffered in their peaceful struggle for their beliefs.