Two years ago, the zombie industry was already worth $5billion but more recently, zombies have become more popular than ever before thanks to the likes of World War Z and the increasing popularity of The Walking Dead TV series. Their apocalyptical world has stimulated the imagination of many people, with the surprising use of gamification in a range of subjects and activities…including a real-life ‘survival’ game of tag in London.
Zombies definitely have a lot of fans, or at least there are a decent number of people who find zombies-related activities entertaining. The theme has increasingly been used in unexpected ways: special fitness classes , runaway app, a guide to prepare you for a zombies invasion/natural disasters by the Centre for Disease Control, an architecture contest, a typing game… they are even used to describe economics, politics!
Of course, the zombie mania would not be complete without the self-proclaimed Zombie Day, celebrated by fans around the world by a city walk, dressed up as their favourite living dead. And for those who look for a more immersive experience there is ‘2.8 hours later’, a real life immersive zombie-themed chasing game where players have to run away from zombies.
A participant of the London Zombie Walk 2013. Image credit: PDD
Last October I volunteered at the London edition and for one evening I became a zombie. I was given torn out clothes, made-up, splashed with (a lot of) fake blood and sent with my horde to our chasing zone: an empty car park. For 3 hours, my goal was to chase players, try to catch them and ‘infect them’, all while behaving like a zombie at all times to create the best experience for the players; after all, they paid to be scared!
Players went to 2.8 hours to live an immersive game, while having fun and some thrills. As they arrived, they were introduced to the dark world of 2.8 hours later: the city of London has been infected and you need to escape from both the government and the infected, and reach Asylum. Armed with a map –and a torch lamp if your teammates are prepared- you have to find your way. Somewhere along the road, groups of zombie volunteers are waiting to run and catch (all while screaming at you). While I was a zombie for a night, I also got the chance to play the game properly and discover the full game plot.
In essence, 2.8 hours later is a giant tagging game, spiced up with a bit of zombie gore. It also shows that people are increasingly receptive to immersive, tangible and convivial experiences, possibly as a (sub)conscious desire to escape their digital lives. However, there is something intrinsically simple and enjoyable in such experiences. They give us the freedom to act, play, run, scare and be scared without overthinking anything.
Posted by PDD
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