While some games might urge you to get off the couch to use Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral or the drum kit in Rock Band, most games are played from the comfort of your house.
Thanks to mobile and handheld gaming devices, that doesn’t have to be the case anymore. A whole genre of games has emerged that encourages you to go outdoors for one reason or another. Here are five games that force you to go outside.
In Ingress, a “mysterious energy” is seeping into the world through portals that seem to be just about everywhere. Your job is to explore the world to tap and control this energy. The twist is that the game world of Ingress is actually layered on top of the real world.
To find these mysterious energy sources, you actually have to go outside and walk around. The game uses an augmented version of Google Maps that shows colorful blooms of energy you can only capture by visiting the physical spaces where it appears on the map.
Niantic, the company that made Ingress, is currently working with Nintendo on a similar game called Pokemon Go that will the adorable Pokemon creatures on the map for you to seek out and capture. That game is set to release sometime in 2016.
2. Zombies Everywhere!
Zombie shooters are a dime a dozen at this point, so it takes a special game to stand out from the crowd. Zombies Everywhere! on iOS stands out. Instead of pre-rendered backgrounds, this game uses your phone’s camera and augmented reality (AR) technology to make it look like zombies are actually racing toward you in the real world.
The screen of your phone acts as your vantage point into this augmented world, so your gun is always present at the bottom of the screen. You simply move your phone around to aim at the advancing threat and tap the screen to fire. Sure, you could play the game in your house, but the effect works much better in wide-open spaces outdoors. So get outside and do your part to stop the zombie invasion.
3. Rune Factory 4
This Nintendo 3DS game takes ideas from all kinds of different genres. For one thing, it’s an anime-style role-playing game in which you pick a character and go hunting monsters. It’s also a farming simulator, so you’ll have to spend time planting crops and maintaining your land. It even has a dating/marriage sim built in, so you can choose a townsperson and try to build a romantic relationship.
That’s all well and good, but how does it get you to go outside? By integrating with Nintendo Play Coins, a special currency you can only get by walking around with your Nintendo 3DS in your pocket or bag. The 3DS has a motion sensor built into it, so it can detect how many steps you take when it’s powered on but closed. The more you walk, the more Play Coins you earn. Then, when you boot up Rune Factory 4, you can trade your Play Coins for in-game gold. Not only can you live a full separate life in the game, but the game also encourages you to go live your own life. Pretty neat.
4. Zombies, Run!
You don’t have to look hard to find an exercise app on the iOS or Android app stores, but most of them won’t feature zombies.
This audio adventure puts you in the shoes of a survivor in a post-apocalyptic world that’s overrun by the undead. You play as a runner who risks going out into the zombie-infested streets to collect supplies. All you have to do is open the app and press start when you go for a jog, and the game takes it from there, building the world through audio transmissions and telling you when you need to speed up because a horde of zombies is on your tail.
Between missions, the app plays music from your phone, so it’s like the best of all worlds: a radio play, a “collect-a-thon” workout game, and a music app all rolled into one. Download it on iOS or Android for free.
5. Boktai: The Sun is in Your Hand
One of the first games to get players to seek out sunlight was Boktai: The Sun is in Your Hand, a Game Boy Advance game that launched in 2003. This action role-playing game has you run around, fighting off enemies, solving puzzles, and ultimately saving the world. The twist is that the game cartridge contains a solar sensor. And because the enemies’ only vulnerability is sunlight, the only way to restock your ammunition is to play the game in direct sunlight.
It’s a strange gimmick — one the developers ditched in later sequels due to complaints — so you might not be surprised to learn that Metal Gear Solid’s Kojima Studios was responsible for the game. If anyone in the industry continually seeks out new and innovative ways to push video games into new territory, it’s Mr. Kojima.