Killing As Organized Sport

KAOS alums pose together in Bronfman during Homecoming 2007 after a few rounds similar to KAOS's final round.

A campus-wide game that takes place during Winter Study, Killing As Organized Sport (KAOS) is a proud Williams tradition (started by Danniel Arramini '84 and associates) that brings students closer together through the magic of paranoia, assassination, and psychological warfare. KAOS was absorbed by WARP in 1990. In recent years, ACE has put on KAOS under the new title of "Nerf Game."

The basic idea of KAOS is simple. Each player receives a weapon and a target to hunt. Annoying constraints such as lawsuits and noise complaints from elderly Williamstown inhabitants prevent us from using actual firearms. These are replaced by silent, non-lethal plastic guns of dubious South-East Asian origin. In any case, each player is being hunted by another player. If you are killed by your hunter, you are out of the game. If you survive and make your kills, you live. Eventually, only one player remains.

The Game Begins (Almost)

Registration for KAOS occurs online, but, as with many things at a liberal arts college, if you show up to the weapons depository wanting to play, odds are "it's all good."

Following registration, you will receive information for picking up weaponry (often in a lovely shade of orange for easy findability) as well as information regarding your first target and the rules of the game.


Basic Play: When play commences, you will receive a personalized email with information about your first target, including their name and assigned room (you should trust this information and not the WSO facebook, which may not be current). From that point, you have 48 hours in which to kill your target. You are also being hunted by another player throughout the game. If you are killed by your hunter, you are dead and out of the game. Each time you kill a target, you inherit his/her assignment and begin hunting your new target with a fresh time limit.

Every player is required to make available via WSO or at least one photo showing a clear view of their face.

Stuns: If you determine the identity of your attacker (or if they are currently attacking you), you may "stun" them by shooting them as if they were your target. This injures them, rendering them incapable of killing you for 12 hours. Since stunned players are not out of the game, they may continue to gather information about their targets. Stunned hunters are in no way protected from the players hunting them. They may still stun their own hunters. If they are killed by their hunter, he/she will inherit you as a target, and be able to hunt you immediately. Thus, you can never truly know that you are safe.

Reporting to KAOS Command: BOTH players involved in a killing or stunning must contact KAOS Command immediately to report the incident. You should describe what happened in detail, relay the names of both parties and the time of the incident, and report any exchange of information about assignments. KAOS command can be reached at KAOS command asks that you CC the other party when reporting a kill or stun in case a dispute arises. While we recognize that a computer may not be immediately available, please note that intentionally delaying the report of a kill to gain time is illegal, and the 48 hour clock starts at the time of the previous kill, not the time you report it to command.

Make sure that you frequently check your e-mail. KAOS command may issue you a new target, give notice of a side mission, or have special instructions at any time. KAOS command will always use e-mail.

End of Play and Final KAOS: Play will end approximately 12-14 days after it begins, at the discretion of KAOS command. Generally this will be when approximately five people remain alive. An email will inform all players that the game is over, and all living players who have made at least three kills will receive an invitation to participate in a formal final elimination round. Though survival is the major factor in determining who reaches the final round, dead players with exceptional kill counts may also be invited. It is always to your advantage to continue making kills, as players with higher kill counts will be given an advantage in Final KAOS (maintaining consistent performance will also help you avoid unpleasant encounters with the Death Squad; see below). The final round will likely involve 6-10 people, with further details being given at that time. Final rounds vary in specifics from year to year.

Conditions for Kills and Stuns: Ideally, kills or stuns are made with no witnesses, but one witness is allowed. A witness is any person present at the exact moment of the kill and within a direct line of sight of either player (although not necessarily looking at the players) with the following exceptions:

  • All glass is considered opaque, so anyone behind glass isn't a witness
  • Sleeping or unconscious people are not witnesses.

Generally, if you think someone is a witness, they probably are. Then again, it might be in your best interest to follow the time-honored practice of shooting first and asking questions later...

Please note that in previous years, "ghosts" (dead players) have not counted as witnesses. This is no longer the case: all conscious people within a direct line of site are witnesses.

Players at work or in class are essentially not playing KAOS. You cannot kill or stun while you are at work or in class; neither can you be killed or stunned. Work means paid employment, such as serving in the dining halls, libraries, or in Jesup as an STC. Of course, just before and after work, or en route to a class, are perfectly fair times for attack.

Targets must be hit in the torso. We define torso as your hips to your collarbone, shoulders but not sleeves. You can be shot in the back. Shots to the limbs do not count as valid kills, but there is no "goal-tending": if an arm is hit while directly blocking the torso, this counts as a kill. Headshots are not valid and dangerous; intentional shots to the face may be grounds for removal from the game.

Shots may only be blocked by objects that would stop a .22 bullet. This means that pillows, blankets, and thick coats can not protect you. Doors, couches, and tables, however, can be used for cover. Intentional body armor (e.g. wearing a text book under your jacket) is not allowed. This applies to backpacks - you may wear a backpack full of books for legitimate purposes (e.g. if you are returning them to the library), but not as intentional body armor.

Disputes: Try not to have any. KAOS command will arbitrate disputes, but the arbitration may consist of simply shooting all parties involved. Be a good sport: be honest and trust your competition to be honest as well. It can be hard to feel the bullets if they hit you as you're running away. If your hunter claims to have hit you, they probably did. At the same time, hunters must actually hit their target; excuses such as "my gun misfired" are not valid. Only declare that you hit your target if you are ABSOLUTELY SURE that you did. If not, reload and fire again, or come up with a new plan of attack.

Specific Violations: Anyone who breaks the following or aforementioned rules will be put on the death-list. If an offense is especially bad, the player will simply be removed from the game. If a friend breaks the rules trying to assist you (i.e. use of force, or impersonating the Death Squad), you will be held responsible, so it pays to make your friends aware of the rules.

  • Impersonation: Impersonating Campus Security, WPD or other law enforcement, KAOS Command, the Death Squad, or another player is illegal. You must make your own kills. Note that any other impersonation (of a Record interviewer, for example) is both allowed and encouraged as a tactic.
  • Honesty: Although deception is a major element of playing KAOS, there are a few basic lines which you may not cross. You may not lie about the circumstances of a shooting, e.g. by falsely claiming that your bullet hit your target, or that a witness was not present. After it is determined that a shot was successful, both parties to a kill or stun must admit their real names and confirm their relationship, i.e. you must tell your target that you are, indeed, their killer. If another player asks you at any time whether you are living or dead, you must give them a truthful answer. Finally, you may not lie to KAOS Command or the Death Squad about any issue of relevance to the game. With these exceptions, all other forms of lying and deception are allowed and encouraged.
  • Use of force: The use of force to make or avoid stuns and kills is strictly prohibited. This means that pushing open a door which is being held closed by another person is illegal. It is directly contrary to the principles of the game. Kills are to be made through skill and cunning.
  • Unethical or Impolite Behavior: It is normal to expect some violations of privacy during the game. Your assassin may enter your dorm-room uninvited or call at odd hours. However, any abuse of anyone else's space, e.g. looking through desk drawers or personal belongings, will not be tolerated. You will be responsible for any damages. If discovered in another player's room and asked to leave, you may try to make your kill, but may not hang around. You are expected to behave courteously toward other players and non-players. Violation may result in being removed from the game. Further questions about where to "draw the line" may be directed to KAOS command at any time.
  • Disturbing non-players: Issues of privacy invasion usually do not affect KAOS players as strongly as non-participating roommates. By playing KAOS, you grant implicit permission for other players to attempt to enter your living space; note that this includes otherwise private residences such as coops and off-campus housing. Before you sign up for the game, you should discuss the possible problems with your roommate, suitemates, and/or housemates and reach an understanding. If anyone you live with is adamantly opposed to your participation in KAOS, respect his or her wishes and postpone your play until the following year.
  • Lock-in players: KAOS is meant to be exciting, active, and paranoia-inducing. Players who stay in their rooms or off campus for extended periods of time without attempting kills are violating the spirit of the game. Any player who is on the death-list for an overly long period of time without correcting the problem will be removed from the game. You must contact us ASAP if you plan to leave the campus for 24 hours or longer.

Death Squad: If you break any rules (including taking longer than 48 hours to kill your target), you will be put on the death-list. A group known as the Death Squad will hunt you down and kill you. The Death Squad cannot be stunned or killed. They may shoot you at any time, anywhere, with witnesses, at any point on your body. They may use any weapon (swords, guns, etc.). Verification of Death-Squad status (after you are killed) can be attained by emailing KAOS Command.

You will remain on the death-list for 12 hours at a minimum. Even if you correct the problem (for instance, killing your target after your time limit has elapsed), you will remain on the death-list for another 12 hours.

If your target is on the death-list, the Death Squad may end up killing them for you. If this happens, KAOS Command will notify you of your new target and have their information available for you. If your target is killed by the death squad, you are only granted only a 24 hour extension to kill your new target. For this reason, it is better for you to kill your target rather than let the death squad take over.

Weapons: Each player will be issued a standard gun at the beginning of play. You may use only this model of gun. You may not use or have on your person more than one gun at any time. You may not alter your weapon or its ammo in any significant manner. The police have asked that people not paint the guns black. If your weapon breaks, notify KAOS Command immediately for a replacement. You may not steal an opponent's weapon or ammo, but you may take ammo that has been fired at you or given to you by a dead friend.

Collaboration: You may work with other players and non-players to gather and share information. They may assist you in your kill (for example, informing you of your target's location), but may NOT shoot your target, impersonate you, or break any rules of the game (see "specific violations" above). Further, all such collaboration is unofficial and non-binding: don't be surprised if one of you ends up with the other as a target!

Bonus Missions: Bonus missions are added opportunities for players to demonstrate their stealth, ingenuity, or problem-solving ability, with various rewards for success. They will be announced via e-mail periodically throughout the game. Because they are intended as a fun addition to the main game, many bonus missions will be open even to players who have already been killed. Some examples of bonus missions used in past games include:

  • Assassinate a specified non-player target guarded by death squad members
  • Intercept a package and bring it to a specified location
  • Find a hidden gun and return it to KAOS command
  • Crack a code
  • Rescue a hostage
  • Escape from a guarded building

The Game Begins (Actually)

The killing commences (yay!) at a time determined by the lord of KAOS, often in the wee hours of the night and/or morning. In essence, "killing" your target consists of hitting your target in the torso (no limb or head shots) with one of several projectile provided along with the weapon: either a small, yellow bullet (speedy and accurate, two great tastes that taste great together) or a more nostalgic orange suction cup dart (slower but easier to spot and recover after shots). Upon killing your target, both parties must report the incident to KAOS Command via email; the victim is out of the game and the victorious assassin is given a new target, presumably the former target of the recently departed player.

The hunted are not without defenses against the hunter, however. If one manages to ascertain which player is trying to eliminate them, the former can shoot in the latter and "stun" them, preventing them from engaging in further aggressive behavior for a fair span of time (12 hours in the case of the 2007 game, 24 in past games).

Needless to say, the complete rules are far more technical and complex.


When the number of players still alive reaches a certain critically low number, normal play is ceased by the KAOS organizers. Usually players are given a small respite from play before a final elimination round to determine a sole winner. The nature of final contest changes yearly, but usually takes one night, and many years has taken the form of a manhunt to the death through the halls of Bronfman Science Center.

The Death Squad

As with any system in which young individuals are given weaponry and let loose, there must be a check on their anarchy, and that check is The Death Squad. If any KAOS player fails to eliminate their target within the allotted timespan (48 hours or 72 hours depending on the number of players), their name is placed upon a Death List, at which point their life becomes forfeit. Now, unless they manage to eliminate their target and remain hidden for the next 12 hours, they will be mercilessly tracked and eliminated by an elite force of warriors whose weaponry includes heavy-duty Nerf guns, swords, and, according to some sources, a rocket-powered grenade launcher.

If KAOS Command is made aware of any broken rules on the part of a participant, their name is likewise added to the list. KAOS Command reserves the right to simply remove a player from the game, but except in extreme circumstances prefers to allow them to retain their honor by being slaughtered by a barrage of styrofoam balls.

Oh, and you can't kill members of Death Squad. So don't even try.


Tried and true (or false)


A man and women meet at a party. He is immediatly attracted and drops his guard. At the end of the night, the two leave together. The night is long... but we don't need to go there. He wakes in the morning to the barrel of a gun.


One hour in a garbage chute is what it took to win KAOS 97. Ventilation shafts are also a good bet (worked in Star Wars).


The door's locked? Try a window. Don't look down.


A cautious player never showers in the same place twice. Many won't even sleep in their own room. Why endanger yourself for bodily functions?

Tactics for Nonplayers

Even if you're missing out on firing projectiles at your dearest friends, you can still join in the fun! Merely shouting "BOO!", opening a door, or breathing can cause high-strung active participants to "freak the flip out," much to the amusement of all.

Invalid Tactics

No, you're not allowed to use an umbrella as a shield. Live with it.


In any war, there are heroes, and the war of KAOS is no exception. These are their stories.

The Interviewer's Gambit

I had heard from many sources that my first assignment -- we'll call him 'Roger' -- was going to be nearly impossible to catch. I contemplated just trying to stay alive until the Death Squad inevitably came after me. But then on Sunday I developed the Plan. I heard through a friend that Roger was on the winning Trivia team, so I decided to pose as a Record interviewer despite never having worked for a newspaper or conducted an interview. One friend lent me her miniature tape recorder and another, Ben, who had already been killed, came along posing as the Record photographer. We knocked on Roger's door and suddenly the door next door busted open to reveal Roger pointing his gun straight at us. 'Excuse me, but we're from the Record and were wondering if we could interview you as a member of the winning Trivia team?' 'Oh, you'll have to pardon me, I'm playing KAOS.' 'Oh, don't worry, I understand. I have entrymates who are playing.' He proceeded to allow Ben and me to enter the room. His roommate was also present. We sat down on the bed and I began to conduct the interview. We had thought up a few questions ahead of time but obviously not enough as not once did he stop twirling his gun around his finger. I kept making up questions, hoping that he would relax enough so I could reach for my own gun jammed in my coat pocket. During the questioning, I only slipped up once, but it could have cost me the kill. 'So what do you find most challenging about KAOS? I mean, Trivia.' Finally I decided I couldn't question him any longer. 'Crap, the tape just ran out. Hang on just a sec while I change this tape.' 'Oh hey, the captain of the Trivia team lives in the suite across the hall. I'll go get him for you.' I looked at Ben. The window of opportunity was closing quickly. If the captain entered the room first, there would be too many witnesses. Roger reentered the room and I shot him just as the captain, coincidentally a member of the Death Squad, came around the corner.

See also