Writing this entry was real fun for me (and a challenge too). I decided to use the keyword "run" in two different worlds, the world of gaming and the real world where I performed a field test. At first you would think that real running and gaming don't have really much in common. In a run game, your only activity is pressing buttons, keys, etc. While when you run for real, your whole body gets a workout, you sweat, and eventually your muscles ache. Do you get any benefits from both? As a gamer, you get satisfaction from getting a great score, by beating other players on the leader board, and by feeling satisfied by having fun with the time spent on your mobile or computer. Can you have similar fun while running for real? Of course you can! Many run tracking apps can work just like any game (but played in the real world). In these types of games you are the joystick and the keypad. Your body is the engine, and you can compete with others on a leader board. It's a gamification process put into your real life, and believe me it's very fun. :)
Let's run a couple rounds on mobile and computer
I decided to pick a couple games in which running is the main activity. I'm sure there may be more games available, but the idea of my entry is to show how the "run" word can be seen from various perspectives and what types of fun we can have from this activity. It doesn't really matter where you play it. In all those games you are only steering a character which is always running and not stopping, until you make a mistake. Foxrun is a simple HTML5 run game. Here your only activity is pressing the spacebar in a specific moment in order to avoid traps. The little fox runs from one screen side to another, faster and faster. Everything depends on your reflexes. The game is very simple, and it doesn't have many features, but I showed it for a purpose. Its simplicity is a base for something more complex. In the past some of you played old sports games on your PC's or older consoles. Those were joystick/keyboard breaking games because the running of the game character depended on how fast and agile you used the steering. One of modern sports web based games I found is Run Puma Run by PUMA company. To be honest, in the beginning it was not as easy to play as I thought it would be. You use more of your agility and keyboard ability than in Foxrun. There are many obstacles and bonuses, and the run speed gets higher as you move on. I liked it, and I think PUMA had a really great idea to promote its brand because we all know that their primary product is sports equipment.
We can also have some running fun on our mobile devices. I'm sure that most of you remember the famous scenesfrom the Indiana Jones movies where our hero was running from huge stones, tribes, or bandits. If you like those kind of adventure games, I suggest you try the Temple Run.
Just like in previous PC browser games, your character is set in the auto-run mode, and your goal is to pass levels safely. I liked the idea of using a mobile device in multiple ways to steer the character. You can slide to make turns or tilt the phone to perform certain actions. I can confirm that from all games I tried with a "run" keyword, Temple Run was the best and most entertaining. Gameplay is fun, and you can practically feel the control over the character's moves (almost like in a normal run if you use your imagination). Now...
... let's go back to the real world
I'm a big fan of jogging. I'm not a professional runner, but I enjoy every moment of the training. Why? The satisfaction of the result, the endorphin's boost, and the awareness that I managed to beat my own weaknesses is amazing. I really feel like a gamer after a great challenge or after passing the hardest level. I get a bonus score, and I'm a happier person! If you take a look at run games and running for real at certain perspective, you will notice that in some aspects both activities have something in common. Motivated by this, I decided to bring some GAMIFICATION elements into my training. It is still a run game, but this time I'm the steering device, and my smartphone becomes an interface that provides me some data about the results and challenges. Instead of sliding, tilting the screen I need to force my body to perform certain actions. The most interesting application/game I found for a field test was Zombies, Run!
The welcome screen starts just like any normal game which is a great idea. You don't really feel like you are about to start the training. You are getting your mission and you have to stay alive. When the mission starts you are being briefed just like you would if you were playing a mission in a FPS game. It is so cool! :) The voice (it sound like you are hearing a radio) tells you a story while you are already running, you find out that you have to help someone or bring a specific item to the target area. It has a specific atmosphere, and with a little imagination you get this odd feeling that you have to make it on time. I found a really scary moment when I slowed down a bit to catch my breath and the voice in my earphones said that I needed to hurry up because zombies are just behind me! I even heard their hard and slow breath followed by moaning... That was scary! :) And I accelerated so much that I managed to beat my previous record in a 5k! Yes, it's a very fun and motivating game! Amazingly a simple voice based app gave me much more fun than some games I used to play recently. It merges entertainment just like in a normal computer/mobile game with physical effort and satisfaction. You share your result and feel happy that you managed to finish your mission without a scratch. That's true fun you can bring some game elements to your every day activities.
I believe that this kind of activity is even more interesting and healthy. Thanks to technology and imagination, it is really possible to connect gamification features with real running activity. We can also find many progress apps on the market, and they have become very popular lately.. You get a score and results just like in any normal computer game, but still it is better. Merging gaming and every day duties seem to work well. Many people are breaking the routine and having more fun with the things they sometimes find boring. This kind of entertainment can be used not only while you run, you can put it into your home duties, work, etc. So do you want to stay home and play at your computer, or will you go out and get some fresh air and play? ;)