Pan Studio believes there is still untapped potential for games in fitness space

Run an Empire wants players to take over their towns – by jogging

A new fitness-based game called Run an Empire has been launched on Kickstarter challenging its players to take over their local area by jogging.

Built by UK app developer Pan Studio, the game enables users to capture a territory by running around that zone. Player can also see areas that others have taken and capture it for themselves by walking, jogging or running through it. 

The multiplayer-focused fitness game uses the iPhone’s in-built GPS to track movement and save location data. 

Pan Studio’s crowdfunding campaign for Run an Empire has to date raised £11,590 of its £15,000 goal with 12 days left to go.

Speaking to Develop, co-creator Ben Barker explains player data would focus on what has happened in-game, such as the territory players have won and lost, player ranking, their progress over time and overall score. Version one will also track metrics such as distance run, average speed and average distance per run to help players keep track of their fitness.

“The game runs using your phone’s GPS,” he says. 

“As an iOS application, it uses the in built GPS and core location framework. Local or specific area is defined by the space you begin your run in. If you go on holiday to the Lakes, why not capture a few mountains? The map shows what you have captured by showing it as a coloured overlay.”

He admits the game has been inspired by titles such as Six to Start’s Zombies, Run!, which he called a pioneer in the games fitness space, as well as other classic titles.

“Our inspiration came from games like Settlers of Catan, Risk and Civilization,” says Barker.

“We grew up playing them and it feels like real world versions are so possible as games like Ingress and apps like Foursquare show. We wanted to strip them back to something that was a pure game mechanic. We’re huge fans of Zombies, Run!, it’s was a pioneer of real world gaming cross-over, but for us rather than a fitness motivator, this was about a game mechanic first.”

While fitness games are often targeted as a single-player experience, Barker states a multiplayer title was apt due to the ever-rising popularity of running clubs, digital fitness communities and getting fit in general.

“People won’t have to play Run An Empire together, though we’ve had great stories from families already planning strategies, but they’ll know they’re part of a wider running community,” he says. 

With the growing popularity of fitness games, such as Kinect Sports, Wii Fit and the aforementioned Zombies, Run!, the sector appears to be hitting a broad consumer market craving extra motivation and a more enticing experience for getting fit.

Co-creator Sam Hill believes however there is still an under-exploited potential in the market in terms of more competitive play, which Pan Studios wants to tap into with Run an Empire, though such an ambitious plan could falter if not enough consumers lap up the app. 

“Like a lot of people, I suspect, I grew up enjoying the puzzles and immersion of tabletop and computer games, but couldn’t really ever get into competitive sports, which I felt required some requisite level of co-ordination and physical skill that I lacked,” he says.

“There’s a very real under-exploited potential in personal devices to allow us to take part in entirely new forms of localised, physical, asynchronous competitive play. Games like Ingress and Zombies, Run!, and applications like Foursquare and Runkeeper have definitely tapped into some innate appeal – but maybe the next step is an entirely new typology of physical play – a kind of augmented ‘Frankensport’ – something with a new applicability and purpose.”

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