Dead Love: The App Happy Zombie

You know what makes me appy? Talking with award-winning travel writer, photographer and ghoulfriend Laurie McAndish King, whose work has been published in literary anthologies and Smithsonian magazine. Her day job is helping small businesses develop effective marketing strategies. She’s also a pushover when anyone undead asks to pick her brain, as I did, on what’s hot about zombie apps.

Q. Laurie, you are an app designer; maybe you can tell us what makes an app popular?

A. What makes an app popular? In a word—Addictability: that ineffable quality that leads to frequent, compulsive, and single-minded use of the app, especially when it interferes with normal social relationships. A good marketing campaign helps, too.

Q. As you are also a member of the ZIA (Zombie Intelligence Agency) I want to ask you about zombie apps. How do zombie apps rank in comparison to other apps?

A. Even without the benefit of ZIA intelligence, it’s quite clear that zombie apps are positioned to take over the world; there are more than 500 in the iPhone store alone. And as of this writing, zombie apps are the #3, 4, and 7 top-grossing apps, according to the review site Lisisoft. How un-dead is that!

Q. What are the most popular zombie apps?

A. “Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies,” along with its prequels and sequels, has been popular among would-be zombie slayers. However, more enlightened enthusiasts are helping fight zombie prejudice with chart-busting apps like Zombie Farm (more than 11 million downloads!), which lets players farm virtual zombies instead of killing them.

Q. Do you use any of the zombie apps? What is/would be your personal favorite?

A. Because of the awesome influence of my opinion, the only fair and decent response is to recuse myself from naming a specific app. That said, my personal preference is for karma-friendly, non-exploitive fun. Please remember that zombies were not put on this earth for our entertainment; they deserve the same respect we give to other sentient creatures.

I should also mention that zombies are accustomed to changing bodies frequently, so they do not tend to feel emotionally attached to physical reality and are quite comfortable in the virtual world. Because zombies can inhabit any app, it’s becoming more and more difficult to determine precisely which apps are “zombie apps.”

Q. You are the designer of a San Francisco Waterfront app, can you tell us a bit about it and how we can use it to find best places to sight zombies?

A. The San Francisco waterfront is an exceptionally attractive haunt for actual zombies (as compared with virtual ones) for several reasons: First, visitors from around the world give the waterfront such an eclectic nature that zombies’ slightly unusual appearance is hardly noticed. And there’s the Wax Museum, a long-established, unobtrusive zombie hangout. Finally, the waterfront’s overwhelming olfactory ecosystem—including aromas of baking bread, fresh crab, and garlic-infused Italian cuisine—helps disguise the zombies’ telltale odor. The San Francisco Waterfront mobile app is an excellent guide to the area, but I recommend you augment it with your own instincts and sense of smell for actual zombie-hunting.

Q. You are teaching an apps workshop, right? If somebody wants to design a zombie app, what tips would you give the would-be designer?

A. Most important: Help make the world a better place. If you are simply trying to make money with a chart-topping app, your success will be limited to fame and fortune. But if you’re aiming to educate humans about zombies, contribute to zombie identification nomenclature, or provide a safe virtual home for the wandering un-dead, you’ll likely be rewarded with spiritual growth to equal your lofty intentions.

Q. If someone wants to take your workshop, where can they do it and when?

A. The “App Happy” workshop is currently offered for one day only: Saturday, April 2nd, from 10 to 4 at Ft. Mason Center in San Francisco. At the end of the day, participants will have all the info they need to start developing their own mobile apps on just about any topic—including zombies. ###

Laurie joined the Zombie Intelligence Agency in 2010.

—Erin Orison, DEAD LOVE/the Daily Slice