SXSW 2013: How Zombies Are Helping Us Get Fit

Zombies Running_1Zombies seem to be everywhere these days, from the big screen (Zombieland, 28 Days Later)  to the small screen (The Walking Dead), to the smallest screen (Plants vs. Zombies). And now they are invading our fitness regimes as well, thanks to a new app, Zombies, Run!, an app that combines immersive storytelling with video game play to make exercise a fun and exciting adventure.

Many mobile apps “gamify” fitness—applying  game-design thinking, turning exercise into points to make it a game. Many companies employ similar fitness competitions at their workplaces, using the number of steps taken per day, number of minutes exercised per week, or percentage of weight lost over a pre determined period of time. Apps take this a step further by adding a social component, encouraging users to add their friends to see how they stack up against them.

Some apps take it to the next level by integrating social media, allowing users to post their progress to their favorite social networks. That social component adds an element of accountability: if Joe posts that his goal is to run a 5K in three months and posts his daily runs on Facebook, his friends become invested in his success as well. If Joe is tired at the end of the workday and wants to skip his run, he might think twice, knowing that his friends are aware of his goal and might ask why he didn’t run that day. Sometimes this accountability is the extra kick that’s needed to decide to tough out a workout instead of scrapping it.

But back to the zombies. Zombies, Run! adds yet one more element to the mix: immersive storytelling. The setup is that you are Runner 5, and hundreds of people are counting on you to save them from zombies. The story is delivered through your headphones while running, and you have 33 missions to choose from, allowing for different speeds and types of workout. On the run, you collect items that you need for your base, and when you are done with your run, you can use these items in the app to rebuild your base. With this app, you become the hero of a story that continues each time you lace up for a run.

The creators of Zombies, Run! are speaking about this innovative new approach this weekend at SXSW. They believe that adding this extra level of entertainment to fitness apps might be the next big thing in digitally tracking personal health. Making exercise fun is exactly what the average American needs to get off the couch and get moving. And if zombies can’t do it, I’m not sure anything can.

Check out OCHWW’s other SXSW 2013 blog posts:

SXSW 2013: Small Data in a World of Big Data

SXSW 2013: The Mobile Healthcare Revolution

SXSW 2013: BIG Data and Personal Technology at SXSW

SXSW 2013: Bad Behavior – the Saga of SXSW

SXSW 2013: Empty Information Calories

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One Comment

  1. Wally East
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Rule #1: Cardio.

    The app sounds pretty cool. It’s an interesting use of layering a VR world on top of the real world.

2 Trackbacks

  • […] information really influence user behavior for the good? Last year we at Ogilvy discovered that zombies can help us get fit, and now we are on a mission to see if quantifying ourselves can influence our behaviors as well. […]

  • […] information really influence user behavior for the good? Last year we at Ogilvy discovered that zombies can help us get fit, and now we are on a mission to see if quantifying ourselves can influence our behaviors as well. […]