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Run An Empire, a real world multi-player strategy game launches Kickstarter Campaign

London-based PAN Studio calls for backers to develop a smartphone game, which will see players competing to capture real life territory through running or walking.


Strategy games like Civilisation, Risk and Clash of Clans lack a real life element, while solitary sports like jogging can seem boring and isolated. Experience design studio PAN, based in Shoreditch, London, wanted to create a game that combines strategic thinking of digital and board games with the real world physical actions that make sports so much fun.

They have today launched a Kickstarter campaign for Run An Empire, a smartphone game where players compete against each other to capture territory in their local environment by running or walking around it. Using local neighbourhoods as an arena for play, the game will use a player’s smartphone’s GPS to record the path he or she takes, and record it in the map of the game, which is visible to all players.

To capture a territory a player simply has to run around it, and for a competing player to capture it back from them they need to run around it faster and/or more often. And while running is encouraged, players by no means have to be gifted athletes, as a slower but more determined walker can beat a faster, but more opportunistic runner. Control over territory will also decay over time, so it will remain a challenge to keep hold of a formidable kingdom even if nobody else is playing for miles around. The key is dedication.

The first iteration of the game will be developed for the iPhone, with an Android version as a stretch goal. PAN Studio are aiming to raise £15,000, and Kickstarter backers will have an opportunity to join the beta testing, help design Easter Eggs and chat to Pan Studio about the game, depending on how much they want to donate. The game is expected to retail for £3.99, and if £25,000 is raised, an Android version will be developed too.

Sam Hill, co-founder of PAN Studio, says, “We’re making Run An Empire because it’s the kind of game we’d like to play ourselves. We want something that requires the same tactical planning as the digital and tabletop games we already enjoy, but rooted in the real world where presence and physical actions make a difference. The game is designed for anyone else who might also enjoy a new way of playing strategy.”

Ben Barker, co-founder of PAN Studio, says, “Rather than a gamified fitness app, we see Run An Empire as a game with real world elements. And while there’s certainly a health benefit, what we’re really excited about is the community element. The competitive element will really come into its own in packed urban areas, but you don’t need to live in a busy place to play, as you can compete against your friends or even just yourself over time. There are nascent communities for both strategy AR and running games like Shadow Cities and  Ingress in the former and Zombies Run! and Nike Grid in the latter. We love all these games and they have given us the confidence that other people also want to play quickly and strategically on their feet.”

This is a first Kickstarter campaign for PAN Studio, but the team are well known for other real world games experiences, having won the inaugural Playable City Award in 2013 with their project Hello Lamp Post, which has since been nominated for this year’s Design of the Year Award  at the London Design Museum.

For more information about Run An Empire, visit: runanempire.com. 

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Video available at: https://vimeo.com/88163333


About PAN Studio

Founded by two Goldsmiths graduates Ben Barker and Sam Hill in 2012; PAN is a studio of designers, play-makers and developers based in Shoreditch, London. We design games, new kinds of experiences, and other playful systems across digital and physical environments.

We have created playful, location-based mechanics before – last summer we were awarded the commission to build Hello Lamp Post for the Playable City Award (and have since been nominated for this year’s Design of the Year Award  at the London Design Museum) - a city-wide experience that allowed people in Bristol, UK, to share stories and observations with each other via intermediary street furniture (benches, bus stops, letterboxes and parking meters etc). We built a rudimentary proof of concept to find out how the mechanic feels to play, we've done some tabletop and street-level testing and we have been investigating scalability to be sure that the game can work on a global level.


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