Assassins returns in altered form

In overseeing a class-wide game of “Assassins,” the Sophomore Class Council has taken special measures this year to avoid the pitfalls that led to the game’s cancellation last year.

The competition ended prematurely last February after an email mistakenly revealed the names of all the contestants, leading to a series of emails from fake Gmail accounts and the infiltration of an organizer’s Yale email account. John Gonzalez ’14, president of this year’s council, said organizers have refrained from sending mass emails to protect players’ privacy and allocated prizes between more contestants to lower the stakes.

“There was a lack of protection on their part last year,” Gonzalez said. “This year we put more effort into ensuring emails were individualized.”

On Feb. 4, the 199 contestants received their initial “targets” — who they must try to eliminate by hitting them with socks — in individualized emails. Though last year’s game included squirt guns, the council elected to use socks since Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry expressed concern about contestants’ use of the guns on campus, Gonzalez said. A “kill” can only take place outside of the “safe zones” of class, work, libraries or a target’s room.

Gonzalez said he considered using websites designed specifically for hosting Assassins, but he eventually decided email communication would be most convenient for competitors. Gonzalez has sent emails to each competitor individually throughout the competition to avoid last year’s complications with group emails.

“We put in the extra time so that now we will not be compromised,” he said.

The council has also restructured the system for distributing prizes in an effort to prevent cheating which contributed to the abandonment of year’s game.

An email announcing last year’s game said there would only be one prize for first place “to ensure some good old-fashioned back-stabbing,” though the runner-up team received Yale apparel as a consolation prize. But 10 winners in this year’s competition will receive gift certificates to Miya’s Sushi, together totaling nearly $700 in prizes, according to an email to competitors. In addition, $25 prizes are being offered to four sophomores who made the most “kills” — even if they have been eliminated from the contest.

In another attempt to discourage cheating, Gonzalez said sophomores are now competing individually instead of in teams. Omar Njie ’13, last year’s president of SoCo, said he believed the six-person teams “encouraged class cohesion” among the 300 participants in last year’s game, adding that “it would have been nice if this year’s Sophomore Class Council had done something similar.” Still, he acknowledged that last year’s organizers failed to keep the game under control.

“The competition among students got more heated than expected,” Njie said. “They’ve learned from the events of last year and are ensuring that the same thing doesn’t happen again.”
Christina Brasco ’14 said there are some sophomores who are taking the game “extremely seriously.”

“Personally, I was only in it for the fun and wasn’t super bummed when I got taken out,” said Brasco, who was “killed” six hours into the competition.

Player Bryan Epps ’14, who was “assassinated” while working at Freshman Screw, said he thinks despite SoCo’s efforts, some “tech-savvy assassins” could still terminate the game by cheating if they determined it was “worth the risk.”

With two weeks left until spring break starts and the game ends, 62 sophomores remained in the competition as of Tuesday night.

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