Just like any monarch, king, president or dictator could tell you, running your own empire is a grueling business, not for the faint of heart. However, we had no idea that it can be that hard, exhausting, sweaty and also exhilaratingly fun and rewarding until we played Run an Empire. In the words of its own creators, London-based Pan Studio, Run an Empire is “persistent, massively-multiplayer, alternate-reality semi-turn-based strategy running game”. Translated in plain everyday English, it simply means that it’s a combination of strategy and fitness smartphone app which utilizes your actual surroundings as a territory you’ll conquer, control and defend.
How does it all work? First of all, in order to play, you’ll need just two things: an Android or iOS compatible smartphone, and a pair of relatively sturdy legs capable of carrying you around. When you turn on the app, you’ll see a simple graphical representation of your immediate surroundings based on your current GPS readings. Then it’s just a matter of running or walking around the perimeter of your chosen territory and you’ll claim it for yourself. After you’ve circled around it, you’ll become its proud owner. Beware, though: just because you’ve claimed some territory that doesn’t mean that it will permanently remain in your possession. This is where a real fun begins. Other players from your neighborhood can assail your territory and take it away from you by doing the same thing as you – walking around it. The only viable preemptive measure for this sort of violation of your sovereign borders is to walk a circle around them multiple times. That way, your potential contender will be forced to walk around it the same number of times as you did, which will make your borders better fortified in a way.
Obviously, this game reaches its full potential in densely populated urban areas where there are many potential adversaries you’ll have to keep at bay, as well as plenty of territories to conquer. That creates an exciting ever-changing political situation where entire empires might rise and fall in a matter of hours. However, even if you live in some relatively isolated spot where there is no one to challenge your sovereignty, you’ll be required to walk around your territory from time to time and reinforce it, because your authority will gradually wane until you’ll lose sway over the land you once owned. A nice little detail (although, sadly, without any real consequences in the gameplay) is that every square kilometer will get you a certain number of credits you can use to customize your unique coat of arms.
A game conceived in this manner offers a number of far-reaching benefits for its players. It might not seem that way at first, but its tactical scope is pretty broad. You’ll be required to find a perfect balance between the conquest of the new and reinforcement of the old territories, which can be more complicated than you think. Regardless of its entertaining segment, Run an Empire can be really helpful in boosting your overall fitness level as a sort of tempting carrot on a stick which will force you to walk or run more than usual. In addition to data concerning the strategic aspect of the game, you’ll also get various health metrics, just like in any regular fitness app. Great thing is that you won’t be able to cheat this little piece of software and drive around the hood instead running or walking, thanks to the use of the accelerometer integrated into your device which will detect excessive speed and any unnatural type of walk.
Best of all, this is a game which, just like that classic fable by wise Mr. La Fontaine about the tortoise and the hare, in the end actually awards persistence and effort, not just a raw speed and agility. That means that even considerably slower senior citizens sufficiently motivated to realize their unfulfilled dreams about world domination can beat younger rivals who are in much better shape than they are.