Run, Jump, Scavenge: The Next Generation of Apps


Good news everyone! I have seen the future of app games and it is good. Today I bring you, Zombies, RUN! and SCVNGR. They may not be video games in the strictest sense, but they are an interactive medium. Both of them bridge the gap between the virtual and real world in a way that their PC and console brethren just can’t do. That is the absolute advantage that mobile gaming has to offer.

Why do you want to get in shape? To out run the zombie horde.

That’s the question and answer that inspired author Naomi Alderman to create Zombies (Out on February 27th). The game takes you through 13 audio missions that tell you about a world in which the dead walk the earth and you, Runner 5, must collect supplies and find survivors. How do you accomplish this? You guessed it, by running! You need to keep up a steady pace and sometimes sprint because the zombies are relentless. If you get caught too many times, you need to restart the mission and that means more running.

Zombies, RUN! offers somethings that Wii Sports and Wii Fitness just can’t: biofeedback and consequence. Playing bowling on the Wii doesn’t feel right. There’s no heft to the controller and in the end I can picture how stupid I look. The Wii fitness instructor has those non-judgmental eyes. I feel the need to turn her off, in a good way. A better idea would be that if I don’t finish the workout the Soup Nazi appears and says “No food for you” and sends a wi-fi signal to my fridge that causes it to lock. Zombies gives a context to why you’re running and consequence should you fail.

Look at me, I’ve done something interesting

I think Foursquare(the popular mobile check-in app) is an interesting concept. At the same time, I don’t see the appeal. It seems to feed into the extroverted culture of LOOK AT ME, PAY ATTENTION TO ME, I’M HERE. Okay, I’m looking at you, now what? In Foursquare you gain points for visiting places, visiting new places and visiting places with friends that also have Foursquare. You gain points and badges, but that’s about it.  Yeah, there are some discounts and challenges, but they all seems so lack luster.  They all revolve around just showing up. SCVNG on the other hand, takes it a little bit further.

In SCVNG, there is the checking in with friends aspect, but there are also challenges to complete at said venue. For example, you check into a coffee shop and get some points. Then the app tells you that you can gain more points if you make an origami sculpture out of a napkin and take a picture of it. Gain enough points, and you shall be rewarded with discounts and free stuff from the venue you’re at. So we’ve gone from LOOK AT ME to LOOK AT ME getting a free sandwich. I approve of this. Give something a point and it justifies its entire existence.

Keeping it digital

According to a Nielsen report, 44 percent of Americans own smart phones. These digital devices are becoming ever more versatile. Pretty soon they’ll be getting up and asking for the location of John Connor. Applications like Zombies and SCVNG will be in greater demand. They provide entertainment that combines more mundane task with a virtual flare. This will help increase the mass appeal of gaming. In the past, when you liked the sci-fi genre you picked up a science fiction themed game. Now, if you like running, you can download an app that adds another dimension to your work out. If you go to a restaurant alone, you can pull out your smart phone and amuse yourself and be rewarded. This may be a step forward into our addiction to media, but anything that encourages us to be more active both socially and physically, gets my support.