Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

New ‘Zombies, Run!’ app puts a little fear into your step

Kaytlin Dawn Photography/ Flickr
Kaytlin Dawn Photography/ Flickr

The newfound phenomenon in smartphone fitness apps is turning exercise into a game.

“Zombies, Run!” is a fitness-based app that allows users to participate in the game’s in-depth storyline as they walk, jog or run in real life. Runners can hear the faint, beckoning growl of zombies, and an automated voice screeching “Warning, zombies approaching,” prompts runners to increase in pace. The goal is to avoid the zombies.

The app, which is already the largest smartphone fitness game ever with more than one million players, has a full 200 episodes and four full seasons of missions to participate in. It was initially developed in February 2012 after being funded by a kick-starter campaign the previous year, and has a riveting and engaging storyline similar to that of “The Walking Dead,” making for great post-Halloween fun.

The journey begins in a transport helicopter that gets hit by a rocket attack and crashes. After surviving the crash, users are alerted that zombies are now chasing after them. Runners are asked to immediately pick up the pace, or risk getting caught. From there, gamers are immersed into a post-apocalyptic world known as Runner Five and now work for a base known as Abel Township.

This is only the first mission, but soon after it’s easy to fall right into the game and continue running.

Each mission teaches the runner more about the world, and the runner gets to discover how the zombie outbreak occurred, and even meet new enemies along the way. The runner listens to between one and four songs from their music playlists, as the zombie chases begin. There is only a little bit of time to increase speed.

After the songs play, the narrative continues as people from the runner’s township continue to communicate with users and the story progresses. The game then switches between the runner’s music and the story.

The runner collects items during runs that can be used later to help build and customize the township. The more missions completed, the more items the runner receives as a positive reinforcement strategy that persuades runners to keep going. If they do not run fast enough in time they lose some of the items they had gathered.

What makes the app great is the story line, as it entices runners to continue through a story that is both comedic and heartbreaking. One mission can include witnessing a family being separated by the outbreak, and the next can include collecting comic book figures. The storyline carries intrigue and motivation so that the runner becomes absent-minded while exercising.

While the app does base itself on being a zombie video game, it ultimately is a great running app. Every mission tracks the time it took until completion, where the runner traveled, the distance traveled, the amount of calories burned, the speed and time for each mile and the number of steps taken. Each mission run is kept as a run log and runners can see their progress over time in all of these aspects.

The application is almost completely customizable when it comes to missions. The runner can alter the mission’s length from as short as 21 minutes to as long as about an hour. There is another option to customize the distance per mission, ranging from 1.5 to 4.5 miles.

There is even the customization for when zombies chase, with both the frequency of a zombie chase, and the increased speed needed to outrun zombies. For those who are too afraid of the chases there is the option to completely get rid of zombie chases and stick to the story line by tracking runs zombie free.

Besides running outside and tracking the runner’s location with GPS, the app is also compatible with treadmill running, by step counting, or constant pace where it just assumes the pace of the runner. The application is constantly adding new missions and improving the game.

The app is free but there is a pro membership that includes more features.

Troy Kowalchuk can be reached at [email protected].


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