Reject humanity. Embrace your inner ape. Become gorilla.

The mottos of Another Axiom’s Gorilla Tag, an immersive VR game created by Kerestell “Lemming” Smith, remind us that sometimes people just want to “be a little monke.”

The game itself is relatively basic. There are no buttons, sticks, or teleportation and it’s marvelous actually in its reminder of how much fun immersive environments are simply because we can exist in there in ways that aren’t possible in physical reality. Gorilla Tag also continues to underscore the fitness benefits of combining technology and physical sport.

There are two game modes – tag and infection. In tag, there are up to three players and the goal is to tag the others. In infection mode, there are four or more players and the goal is to run away from infected gorillas. Once you’re infected, it then becomes your goal to infect others.

Gorilla Tag released earlier this year on Steam (February 12) and then Oculus App lab (March 12) and immediately had an active playerbase. While some of this could be due to the fact that the developer had been wisely building a small following of players to provide feedback as he developed the game, the rapid growth and popularity is more attributable to the fact that it’s a fun, free-to-play game through both Oculus App Lab and Steam VR. The game is also a bit addictive.

Gorilla Tag for Fitness

Journalist Adam Braunstein reviewed Gorilla Tag for VR Fitness Insider in late March and the game received an overall VR Fit Score of 8.4/10, with a 10/10 for arms and 9/10 for fitness scalability.

I had the opportunity to play Gorilla Tag while it was still in early development and it totally wore me out. I recall at the time feeling like I had just played a full match of tennis and in fact I’m pretty sure I recall taking a nap afterwards.

It makes me feel a bit better, however, to know that it’s not just tiring for me.

Even well-known content creators such as Mike from VR Oasis have checked out Gorilla Tag and had a bit of exhausting fun.

Lest you have the impression that the game is only physically challenging for players over the age of 30, check out this feedback from some younger enthusiasts.

“On the fitness side of things, Gorilla Tag has significantly increased my stamina and ability to push through fatigue in order to reach that next jump and get away from a tagger,” says Dan, age 18 and competitive Gorilla Tag player. “It can be a very physically taxing game depending on how much effort I exert. Gorilla Tag is the only game I play that can make me sweat so hard that I’m unable to open my eyes. It is the best game on the market currently and it’s free!”

Dan isn’t alone among teens in his assessment of the game for fitness.

“It’s not going to make you get big muscles, but it’ll give you a good sweat and a good arm workout.” – Sort110, age 14, playing since March.

“The sheer amount of stamina and upper body flexibility required to play Gorilla Tag is pretty high. …The restraint of only arm movements creates a level of effort different from most other games.” – Neptune the Wolf, age 15, playing for about five months.

“I used to think Beat Saber was tiring for a VR game, but Gorilla Tag blew it out of the water in pretty much every area.” – [TTT]Octagonal Bagel, age 16, playing since February.

Gorilla tag is without a doubt the most exercise I’ve gotten while playing a VR game. It’s not as fast as Beat Saber or anything, but the thing about Gorilla Tag is that you forget you’re even working out. Your only motivation is to escape a bunch of little kids making monkey noises. Since I began playing, there has been a noticeable difference in my biceps and my upper body in general. On a scale from 1 to 20 bananas, I give it a solid 18.” – Peptobepto, age 15, playing since February.

Gorilla Tag as an Esport

In addition to the fitness benefits, Gorilla Tag has esports potential.

Games of tag have probably existed as long as children have been able to run about and play because it’s simply fun to see if you can run, dodge, duck, or jump more quickly than your friends. Gorilla Tag encourages this primitive sort of fun so of course players quickly found ways to create more formalized competitions.

There are actually quite a few servers dedicated to Gorilla Tag competitive enthusiasts, including a 1v1 Championship League, the “International Gorilla Tag Association,” and Sharks & Minnows Competitive  League.

Players interested in esports will definitely want to check out the Competitive Gorilla Tag (CGT) server and VR Party League Gorilla Tag.

“We are currently on our second season of the competitive league,” states _Zen_, a CGT moderator. “We’ve had a growing amount of newcomers with new and exciting routes within the game, as well as multiple new teams applying for a position in the team roster.”

“It gets pretty addictive to try to play another around and be the last one standing, it can work up a really good sweat,” she adds, noting that she has lost “quite a bit of weight” as a result of playing the active game.

VR Party League (VRPL) launched their first season of Gorilla Tag on Monday. There aren’t many teams in this league yet, but it’s sure to grow as the VR esports community is paying increasing attention to VR Party League as a positive, inclusive option for VR competitions.

The Monke Community

Some people might recognize Kerestell “Lemming” Smith as the man who brought levitation to VR esports with his amazingly high jumps during the VR League finals at Oculus Connect 4 while playing Ready At Dawn’s Echo Arena. I actually had the privilege of being eliminated from that competition the day before and it’s much better that Lemming’s team advanced since I play seated and hadn’t quite worked out levitation from my chair yet. [Note: I still haven’t quite managed this yet.]

Photo credit: ESL / VR League

Definitely Smith is one of the nicest guys in the VR community and it’s fantastic to see his game doing so well. Currently there are nearly 18,000 members of the Discord server alone. I actually double checked that number because it’s more than BigBox VR’s Population: One, which has almost 15,000 on the Discord server, and rapidly approaching the 30,000 mark seen on Echo VR’s Discord. Considering the fact that Gorilla Tag has actually been in early access for less than six months, the game has impressive activity among Discord servers as well as in-game players.

According to Steam charts, there have been an average of 159 players on the game at a time. This is slightly higher than last month, but overall the number of players has been relatively steady since release to early access.

Smith talked a bit about the game and his plans for it in the Early Access developer comment section of Steam.

“I’m one guy working on the game in my spare time, and I think that the input from people about what is cool or interesting about the game will be valuable going forward. I wanted to make it available to people because I think the game even in its current state is a lot of fun and I hope people have fun as well.”

He also made note that the base game would always be free, but if he decides to monetize the game it would be through “something like optional cosmetics,” not loot boxes since he – like many other gamers – considers those unethical.

Smith has also involved the community in the process of making the game appealing, following other developers’ example in this regard who engage with players and take feedback into consideration during the development process.

““My goal is to make a game that people find fun and engaging enough to want to play more,” Smith says. “I have certain design goals and principles that I plan on sticking to, but as far as what people find valuable about the game, I would love to get that feedback to inform my decision making about what to work on next. Since it’s a multiplayer only game, the community will be one of the important voices in that process.”

Summary

Gorilla Tag is a fun, unique game with an active community and an approachable developer willing to listen to player feedback. Whether you’re interested in Gorilla Tag for fun, esports, or fitness, it offers something for anyone willing to embrace their inner ape.

A multiplayer game that can be played sitting, standing, or roomscale, Gorilla Tag is compatible with all major headsets, including the Oculus Quest 2.

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