We’ve all turned to mobile running apps at one time or another to motivate ourselves to go for that early morning routine run. With the ability to track features such as distance, pace, route taken and calories burned, these apps can provide useful information to monitor our progress over time. But the features that seem to best motivate or encourage long-term habits appear to be those that incorporate strong game or community elements.
For example, Nike+ Running lets you to track and view your run data online but setting your own challenges to achieve a personal best or compete with friends harnesses the power of friendly competition to run a little harder. While MapMyRun, with a focus on running routes, introduced corporate sponsored challenges featuring participants on leader boards and the opportunity to win prizes as a source of extrinsic motivation.
These examples of gamification (using game elements in non-game contexts) have proved popular with runners but several new apps and game-like experiences are taking the level of motivation to a whole new level: running for your life!
Zombies make you run faster
Initially funded as a Kickstarter project last year, Zombies,Run! is a mobile app developed by Six to Start and writer Naomi Alderman. Described as a “running game and audio adventure” the interface and pre-recorded audio create a realistic post-apocalyptic zombie-infested world where the player completes challenges by running and receiving rewards in the form of precious virtual items like medicine, ammunition and batteries.
Using an app and your imagination to immerse yourself in a fictional world is pretty cool but what about adding some real world features like a groaning zombie breathing down your neck and reaching out for your warm flesh?
Run for Your Lives
Organised by Reed Street Productions, Run For Your Lives is a zombie-infested 5km adventure race launched in the US during October 2011. Each race takes participants through a series of manmade and natural obstacles. Racers wear a belt with three flags and must make strategic choices to find the quickest route to the finish line. Scarce “health bonuses” are scattered throughout the course but in order to complete the race as a survivor they must finish the race with at least one flag. But you don’t have to be a runner to get fit, you can do the chasing and be a zombie! After receiving a “professional zombie transformation” you choose between the two main archetypes, traditional Stumbler Zombie or more modern Chaser Zombie. These races have proven to be a hit with runners and spectators alike with races held across the United States and nearly 400k fans on their Facebook page.
Run For Your Lives and the Zombies, Run! app can be described as basic forms of ARG or alternate reality games, where a game layer and narrative is added to the real world and unfolds in real time allowing participants to adopt specific roles and interact with other players or non-playing characters. This kind of creative context can harness some of the best things we enjoy about games: intrinsic motivation, positive pressure, team work, creative problem solving as well as getting our adrenalin pumping!
Zombies in Manila
But great news for zombie fans in Manila – if you’re in the Philippines capital this Saturday July 28, you can check out the inaugural Outbreak Manila. Inspired by the popularity of Run For Your Lives, the event is sure to test runners’ appetite for achieving their personal best under extreme circumstances.
I wish runners all the very best and remember: if you can’t beat them, join them!
This blog post first appeared on www.recognitionpattern.com