Zombies! Run!

“Run in the real world. Become a hero in another.” This is the tag line for the popular app, “Zombies, Run!” The app is a way for couch potatoes and advanced runners alike to get out and get active through running activities. You may be asking yourself, “how does a running app have anything to do with digital storytelling?” The surprising answer is that it has everything to do with digital storytelling. This app is not just another step tracker or fitness tracker, it’s actually a fully immersive zombie apocalypse simulator. As you run in the real world, the story plays out in your ears. Not only do you listen to the story, but you also participate in it while you run. Periodically in the story, you, the runner, are called upon to complete missions in real time while avoiding zombies on your GPS tracker. The further you run, the more the story goes on, and the more that you level up in the game.

This week’s critique requires a different kind of analysis as it is a story focused on real world immersion. For that reason, I have chosen  traits from Jason Ohler’s list that are more applicable to audience experience.

Title Description Succeeds
Sense of audience How well did the story respect the needs of the audience? For the hardcore enthusiasts of the zombie genre who have always wanted the chance to experience an apocalypse first-hand, this app has everything going for it. It has a solid and realistic story, it gives the audience the ability to participate and change the plot, and the chance to do all of this in real time and real life. Simultaneously, it also provides a great way for a variety of people (runners and non-runners) with a way to get out and get healthy through its fitness components. People who have previously struggled with staying active and healthy are now given opportunities to stay committed to a fitness routine through the use of storytelling. This story also provides the ability for the user to input their own running music into the background of the story, which helps to cater to all of the people who prefer to have inspiring music for which to exercise.  10/10
Media application Was the use of media appropriate, supportive of the story, balanced and well considered? Produced as an app and controlled through the use of a smartphone app was the best media application for this story. People on the go can easily enjoy the story anywhere, because once it’s downloaded it does not require data to run. Users of the app don’t have to be outside runners. The producers of the app took into consideration people who are more frequent users of gyms than the outside world and have provided users with the feature to use this on and off a treadmill. Regardless of where you use the app, story features still work well and keep the runner immersed in the story. 10/10
Project planning Is there evidence of solid planning, in the form of story maps, scripts, storyboards, etc.? An incredible amount of planning went into the creation of this story and app. Evidence can be found firstly on their website where they have an infographic displayed showcasing the many features of the app. Other solid pieces of evidence are in the interface of the app. Most game features are neatly laid out and easy to find and use. The audio does a great job balancing explaining what to do while committing to telling a mostly realistic sounding story through sound effects and conversations. The GPS and step trackers are also well programmed as they capture the movements of the user well. Though you can level up and achieve more story elements in this game, there is no way to see your running progress from previous runs. More planning needs to happen to take showing a user’s full journey into consideration. 8/10

Overall, this story is an incredibly immersive experience into the zombie genre. If you are one of the many people who struggles to find enjoyment in exercise, this app will quickly provide you with an attitude shift through its remarkable storytelling features. With 200 different stories, app users are guaranteed not to run out of motivation to workout consistently. A lot of the storytelling is very linear in nature, and provides users with missions that build upon each other. Some choice is given to the runner in how the story proceeds, but for the most part they are pre-crafted stories that you venture through. More choice in where the story goes would be a great way to make this even more of an immersive experience.




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