Need to get fit? Try running from zombies


A fitness-encouraging app in which users have to run like hell from hordes of virtual, human-hunting zombies may sound plain daft - but Zombies, Run! from developer Six To Start in London has proven such a success that the British Department of Health has just ordered a modified version of the game that will allow doctors to prescribe it for unfit patients who own smartphones.

The game's proposition is simple: location-aware smartphones know where you are and the lie of the land around you. An algorithm generates packs of zombies that can follow you into the park or ambush you on a trail or your route to work, and your job is to keep running to avoid them. The chase rate can be jacked up for harder workouts.

Six To Start aims to design real-world mobile games that draw users in with a strong storyline, founder Adrian Jon said at The Economist's Technology Frontiers conference this week.

It seems to work: Zombies, Run! for Android and iOS has been downloaded by 300,000 people, millions of kilometres run have been logged online and thousands of users have testified that the game has made them both fitter and lighter, says Jon.
It's not clear yet how the version being prototyped for the British National Health Service will differ from the original game, but presumably it will be easier on the legs of heavier people with a medical need to get fit. It will still be "fun, scary, gripping", promises Jon.

By Paul Marks

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