Author applies her memory to get app up and running

A throw-away line heard by an author inspired what has become the world’s highest grossing application of its kind in the bustling smartphone and video games marketplaces.

Naomi Alderman, who won an Orange award in 2006, couldn’t have known that she’d stumbled upon inspiration when listening to people’s reasons for taking a running course she attended last year.

Although most of the would-be joggers responded to the course instructor’s question with the obvious – to get fit or to shed excess pounds, one woman reportedly answered: “To escape the zombie hoard!”

Alderman no doubt forgot about it until Adrian Hon, the boss of a video games studio, mentioned to her that he wanted to develop a fitness ‘app’ that “made the actual act of running itself fun.”

Cue the inception of ‘Zombies, Run!’ – which the pair set about creating -available today for smartphone as an “immersive”, “augmented audio” game where players survive by fleeing zombies on foot.

Deciding not to use any money for marketing and with only limited funds for development, Hon and Alderman approached create project funding portal Kickstarter, in a bid to drum up donations from individuals they teased with the idea.

Whatever they said to entice support worked: the donations received from the crowd-sourcing totalled more than five times their target, with 3,464 backers pouring in an investment between them of almost $73,000 (£46,000).

Little incentives helped – serious supporters (donating more than $85), for example, were thanked with goodies and by being named in-game, potentially as one of the undead or, for even bigger donors, as a brand.

Although 'Zombies, Run!' joined the app listings at the higher end of the pay-for market, it also appears to have benefitted from a clear product description, focus on user-experience and emphasis on ease-of-use, as evidenced by its marketing blurb. An employee at Hon’s studio also gave up his bedroom to serve as a recording studio.

The makers, Six to Start, say: Zombies, Run! is about making the thrill of running even betterwith a game and a story delivered through your headphones. We’re making running more fun, more exciting, and more addictive for everyone from…weekend joggers [to] marathon runners. And Zombies, Run! works anywhere - in a park, along a beach, in the city,even on treadmills!

“Also: we don’t make you watch your screen while you’re running; we don’t make you change your favourite routes; and you don’t need to buy any fancy armbands or tracking devices. All you do is press a button when you start, and another button when you’re done. That’s it. We follow your lead.”

At the time of writing, the downloadable game for iPhone, iPod Touch and Andriod was reported by The Observer newspaper to be on track to soon exceed 100,000.

 

27th March 2012

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