There are countless zombie video games out there: Dead Island, the Resident Evil series, Dead Rising, Plants vs. Zombies, and those are just the tip of the iceberg. There are zombie RPGs, zombie FPSs, iPhone apps that let you pretend zombies are chasing you while you go out for a jog. But there’s one thing that all these myriad zombie games have in common: none of them will do you any good in preparing for the actual zombie apocalypse.
If you’re to have any hope of surviving the undead onslaught, you’ll need practice in the real, flesh-and-blood world. Luckily, there’s a company in England that’s offering exactly that.
Wish.co.uk is a British company that markets “experiences”—skydiving trips, feeding lions, test driving high-end sports cars. You can even learn to drive a tank, without the hassle of, you know, actually joining the military. And now they’re selling something new: the zombie experience.
First, you get trained to be a badass zombie-fighting machine, or as close to one as you can be with a half-hour’s worth of paintball instruction. Then you’re sent into an area teeming with the undead with one mission: take out as many zombies as you can, without getting caught yourself. Essentially, it’s paintball with role-playing, all for about $120. Not counting the cost of travel to Northern England, of course.
But it’s not just a run-and-gun free-for-all—there’s a story that unfolds, with specific missions for you and your platoon to accomplish. You’re really going to get to full, zombie-hunting RPG experience, only in real life instead of on your TV screen. The whole thing lasts about three hours, and apparently you can’t “die”—if the zombies catch you, they just hold you down until one of your teammates can blow them away and rescue you.
There’s also the Zombie Shopping Mall experience, where you basically get to re-enact Dawn of the Dead in an abandoned shopping center—or excuse my American spelling, I meant to say “shopping centre.” This one’s available for a limited time, as it really does take place in an abandoned mall that’s scheduled for eventual demolition. It also costs about twice as much, but features “movie-quality special effects,” which any zombie-movie fan knows could mean just about anything.
You don’t have to fly across the Atlantic to get chased down by zombies, though. Here in the US, we have the Run For Your Lives. While the English Zombie Experience is a paintball adventure, the Run For Your Lives is a foot race—in the mud, over various obstacles, with a horde of brain-hungry zombies chomping at your heels. Like in a game, you have a “life meter”—three flags attached to your body. If a zombie catches you, you lose one. Lose all three, and you’re dead. You still get to finish the race if you want, but your time will be marked “dead” in the results and you won’t be eligible for any prizes. The race is a 5K, or 3.1 miles, and takes place in different parts of the country pretty much all year long. The next one is in the Boston area, with others near Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Denver, the Seattle/Portland area and St. Louis later this summer and more in other parts of the US (and Toronto!) in the fall.
And if running isn’t really your thing—basically, if you’ve given up in the case of a zombie apocalypse and just plan to roll with the new normal and eat brains—well, the Run For Your Lives gives you that option, too. You can sign up as a zombie, get made up and do your best to harass those tasty morsels trying to run away!