INTERVIEW by BRITTANY FARB | PHOTOGRAPHY courtesy of SIX TO START
Have you ever wondered what you would do if your city were invaded by zombies? Adrian Hon, founder and Chief Creative at online games company, Six to Start, is attempting to get the runners of the world to think it over. Combining his entrepreneurial and creative spirits with his passion for running, Hon will launch an app called Zombies, Run! early next year for iPhone and Android. The premise? When they hit the pavement, runners plug in their headphones and hear a narrated story of a zombie catastrophe, and their job is to collect supplies to rebuild civilization. Saving the world while burning calories? Now this has to be good.
Where did this idea come from?
A couple of places. I have been interested in making running games for a long time; I run quite regularly. I met up with a friend, Naomi Alderman, who is our lead writer, and she mentioned how she just joined some kind of beginners’ running group and they were asking everyone why they joined. Some people said they wanted to lose weight, others wanted to get fit, and one person wanted to survive the zombie apocalypse, which would be a time where being able to run would be quite useful.
How long have you been a runner?
I started doing it about ten years ago. I remember at school I actually hated running. I was just not very good at it, but it also seemed like one of the easiest ways to get fit, so I crawled my way up from being kind of terrible to doing it quite well.
This begs my next question: Would you survive the zombie apocalypse?
To be honest, I haven’t given it as much thought as other people have. There are some people who have an escape plan mapped out and others who have weapons. I think I would survive the first initial attack and I’d be okay, but I’m not sure that I have all of the kinds of weapons at hand that one might need.
And what types of weapons would you need?
I guess the traditional armory would be something like a shotgun. That’s what you see in the movies the most. Maybe axes, any kind of blade weapons. But I think the best weapon would be being able to run away quickly.
Who is the typical Zombies, Run! runner?
We didn’t really market it to a specific audience. Inevitably, it is going to skew younger because those are the people who are going to have smartphones. I also wouldn’t be surprised if there are more men playing it than women because of the whole zombies and game angle. But it’s a really wide variety of people — we’ve got teenagers who are 13 years-old who are excited about it. We’ve got people who can’t run, but they want to play it when they are on the treadmill or when they are just out walking. So while the core audience seems to be younger, it also is appealing to a really wide number of people because there are very few good running games out there. People want to exercise, but they want to have fun doing it.
Zombies and Halloween seem to go hand-in-hand. How does Halloween differ in the U.K. from America? Have you experienced an American Halloween?
I have. I was in New York for Halloween a couple of years ago and I was pretty surprised, to be honest. The really big difference that I just didn’t get was that Halloween is kind of sexy in the U.S. and in the U.K. people just don’t do that. In the U.K., people try and dress up as scary things whereas in the U.S. it seems to be just an excuse to dress up as anything. The U.K. is approaching the U.S. in this, though, and we are getting more sexy costumes and things like that coming out.
How much time goes into developing an app like this?
The one that we’re making would probably be close to half a year with a team of five people, which is both kind of more or less than other games. It’s a fair amount of man hours, but in comparison to something like Grand Theft Auto, it’s hardly anything. We’ve had a very clear vision, so we have been able to do it a bit quicker.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
You can’t succeed or fail until you’ve tried. You have to be prepared to fail. I think a lot of people are trained to be afraid of exposing themselves to failure. When you’re in school, it’s all about trying to get the top mark, whereas if you’re trying to start a business or be an entrepreneur, then that’s life. Most businesses do fail and could turn out good or bad, but you have to be sure that you really like it. The level of freedom that you get with making your own stuff you won’t have working at another company. It helps if you have more money, but I think you have to give it a try.
How can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to Zombies, Run!?
We are interested in learning how people go out running and what they do. Do they go to the gym? Do they run in the park? Do they have the same routine every day or do they go to a different place every once in a while? We are also thinking about doing an event for Zombies, Run! in New York in early December, so if anyone knows of any good places to do that, it would be cool to tell us about them.