It doesn't matter where you run.It doesn't matter how fast you run.It doesn't matter how far you run.Just run.
That’s the slogan for the new Zombies Run app for iOS, an adventure game of sorts designed to encourage people to run like hell. Joggers turn on the app and in addition to listening to their usual musical soundtrack, they’re encourage to run longer and faster with a storyline about ‘Runner 5’ who is the unlucky sucker that has been sent out into the zombie infested open to collect supplies for a base of surviving humans.
While moving, the runner will automatically collect supplies, such as weapons, ammo, medical equipment, as well as notes and recorded messages that give clues to how the world turned into an undead all-you-can-eat buffet. Occasionally, zombies will catch up with the runner (cued by progressively louder moans in the app), which means that it’s time to run as fast as possible to escape. If advancing zombies don’t encourage someone to pick up their gait, what will?
Once the run ends, Zombies Run will let you know all of the typical running app stats, i.e. distance, time, pace and calories burned, as well as what supplies you collected on your run, which you then must determine how to distribute them to the other survivors on your base. Do they go to doctors or to soldiers?
Physical fitness has been one of the more verdant areas for behavior modification apps -- over the years we’ve watched the rise and success of apps, such as Nike+, Runkeeper (which Zombies Run will eventually integrate according to its website) and Couch to 5K (recently renamed Ease into 5K). Zombies, Run seems to be taking notes from those and from real-life events like Warrior Dash and Run for Your Lives (both 5K runs with obstacles, the latter with actual people dressed as zombies chasing after you) to create something that, while it might be too gimmicky for long-term use, will certainly genre fans some new inspiration to stay physically fit. At the very least, if there’s a zombie apocalypse, users of this app will be prepared.
Tying game mechanics in with fitness goals is an increasingly common idea in our era of the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Kinect -- but few examples have done it so effectively yet simply -- and the concept seems infinitely expandable to other genres and audiences (something related to shopping, or a perhaps fantasy sports league, as examples).
Zombies, Run is available on the App Store for $7.99 and will be available on Android in the Spring. It’s also worth noting that this project got off the ground on Kickstarter, raising $72K from 3,400 backers.