Anyone who enjoys a good zombie movie knows just how exciting it can be to watch the final climax when the remaining survivors race for their lives against the chasing zombies. If simply watching it on screen is enough to get one’s blood racing, acting it out would be even better. Through ZOMBIE RUN, an all-night virtual reality game where participants can play either the role of a zombie or a human survivor, Comove interlaces make-believe and adrenaline rush into people’s daily lives.
Although ZOMBIE RUN is the most well-known event, Comove does not only focus on planning and running a single program. Comove is a social enterprise that aims to create a new recreation culture in which games and sports are mixed together into a new form of popular entertainment. The name itself is a combination of two words, “co-,” meaning together, and “move,” to imply that people should be more active together.
“Comove promotes the concept of ‘g-sports,’ which is a combination of ‘games’ and ‘sports,’” explained Won Jun-ho, the president of Comove. “Comove aims to vitalize people’s lives with a new form of outdoor recreation that people can enjoy together, instead of just staying in their rooms playing on their smartphones by themselves.”
Comove made its debut in May 2013, introducing the first ZOMBIE RUN at the festival of Yonsei University. Won and two other co-founders had prepared the game for 500 people, but they were pleasantly surprised by 1200 participants. Two months later, Comove got registered as an official social venture.
“I was thrilled that the game we had planned for nearly a year turned out to be a huge success,” Won said. “The players with the role of human survivors made it to the finishing line with grazed knees, happily shouting to each other, ‘We made it! We survived!’ like they had just outran a pack of real zombies. They thoroughly enjoyed it, and I loved that.”
To make the game look more realistic, ZOMBIE RUN begins at dusk, in an amusement park or a filming site that Comove has booked for the entire night. A Comove staff gives the “zombie” players a full make-up so that they look like the real undead, and the “human” players are given three “life-belts.” It is the human players’ mission to make it through the pre-designed course with at least one life-belt intact as the zombie players “attack” them. The game lasts until the late hours, after which the program wraps up with an after-party where all participants, including both zombies and humans, staffs and players, come together to share food and drinks in a vibrant atmosphere.
“ZOMBIE RUN is a mixture of hide-and-seek, a lot of running and a bit of fantasy,” Won explained. “Often, sports is considered as an exclusive form of entertainment enjoyed only by fit, ‘sporty’ people. However, in Comove it is upgraded into an excellent urban recreation centered around simple actions such as running where anyone can participate.”
Apart from ZOMBIE RUN there is also ALIERUN, where players get to act as secret agents that explore an extraterrestrial spacecraft that has made an emergency landing on Earth. The players are divided into groups and are given the mission to search for on-board aliens.
Not only does Comove help people lead happier lives by running recreational programs, but it also contributes to the society by monetary donation. In 2014, Comove collaborated with Yongin Hospital Foundation to donate some of its profits to run a youth health campaign, which comprised medical check-ups and counseling programs for those suffering from depression. The campaign was held during 2015 after the trial period in 2014, but Comove is planning on re-starting it later this year.
Comove is currently planning to expand its business abroad in other Asian countries, such as China and Vietnam. Earlier this year, it ran a market research in China with funding aid from the government.
“The culture we have created helps people have fun and stay healthy at the same time by moving their body, ” Won said. “Also it teaches people to cooperate with others as they play in teams. We want youths of other Asian countries experience that culture too.”
Beside its plans for international business, Comove is also keen to cultivate more public-friendly contents.
“Specific topics such as zombies and aliens tend to have their own fixed fans, so we want to hold programs that appeal to a wider range of people,” said Park Jee-sun, the director of Comove. “We may create an enojoyable recreational culture, but it cannot function without people who come and enjoy. It is something that all of us complete together, and we want as many people as possible to join in the process.”