Zombies, Run! Informal Review
Lately I’ve been thinking about … Batman. Like, you ask me what I’m thinking, 75% of the time the answer will be Batman. Gotham has been totally amazing and reinstilled in me a love of Western comics, vast, gritty cities, crime, corrupt politicians, guys with glasses, and of course, the Bat.
But what’s that got to do with zombies?
Okay buddy, Imma square with you: absolutely nothing. Aside from in that measley 25% of the time I’m not thinking about Batman, chances are I’m thinking about zombies. Specifically, Zombies, Run!
If you haven’t heard of ZR, it’s a fitness app/ interactive story that takes you, a survivor in the English zombie apocalypse, from sitting on your lazy butt all day to running five kilometres in a single bout. And then it makes you use those hard earned legs to outpace zombies, gather supplies, and bolster the defences of your sanctuary amidst the chaos, the battered township of Abel.
The format is simple and powerful. You download the app onto your phone, add a playlist, grab your headphones and hit the streets. For each session you run (say three times a week), there’s a story delivered into your headphones as you are performing running drills and increasing your stamina. The story is about you, which gives it tremendous appeal. Essentially you feel as if there are a couple of Abel township radio operators on the other end of your headphones, talking you through the drills, and giving you bits and pieces of information about your surroundings. Of course, whenever you set foot “outside Abel”, you must beware of zombies. The radio operators will give you a heads-up if there’s a zom nearby, and believe you me, there is nothing like hearing “Ugghhhrrrrrrr” in your headphones at 7am with nobody else around to get you running like hell.
Rewards for completely sessions, or missions as they’re called in-app, are listening to the story unfold. As Runner 5, you’re training to take a more active role in Abel, and this means interacting with a range of different characters, from other runners (who are all better than you, at least to begin with), to the resource managers and of course the radio operators. Dr Maxine Myers and Sam Yao have become as friends to me in the past month.
As you progress through the 5K training and move onto the “seasonal” missions (where each mission is like an episode of a TV series, still with you as the main character), the rewards increase to include resources for Abel, which are gathered on supply missions. These resources are redeemable online via the ZombieLink, where you can view your own personal Abel, and allocate your gathered materials to strengthen your town, feed people, etc.
I never thought I’d look forward to running. It has never been my thing. But Zombies, Run! with its strong characters, user-friendly format, and next-generation immersion, has me anxious to get out of bed and into my running shorts. For those of you who write, or program, or are eternal pilgrims of new ways to engage with your audience, check out Zombies, Run! It’s been going strong for three years, and it’s people like you and I who will be referencing its framework for our future, highly successful forays into content creation.