Run An Empire: The Most Territorial Fitness App

If you already run regularly, you likely understand distance and speed aren’t the hallmarks of becoming a good runner. It’s consistency. Whether you’ve just started training for your first 5K walk or you’re preparing for your 10th marathon, motivating yourself to get out the door – day in, day out – can prove to be the most difficult challenge of any fitness regimen.

But what if you could bolster your own motivation by tapping into the id which already compels many of us to compulsively check-in with our phones, battle for online crowns/mayorships, and continually track quantified-self statistics?

Human nature already dictates an innate need to observe and set territorial boundaries, whether they be virtual or in the physical world. That’s where London based PAN Studio‘s “persistent, massively-multiplayer, alternate-reality semi-turn-based strategy running game”, Run An Empire, utilizes these normally wasted virtual hydrant marking urges to our benefit.


The premise behind Run An Empire is quite simple, but immediately enticing to anyone with an affinity for real time strategy games: the app uses your phone’s GPS to track your route, with any area you’ve covered becoming marked as your territory.

Walk a section repeatedly and the area becomes more securely designated as part of your empire (communicated by a darker hue). All the while other players/runners are doing the same nearby. The fun begins when players begin trying to capture overlapping areas as their own in a bipedal locomotion version of TRON light cycles.

Run An Empire-2

The beauty of Run An Empire is that the game requires a balance between maintaining the security of a home base while also compelling players to attempt to intrude and capture other players’ territories by running further and longer, making the habit of running less a task and more of a mission-based activity.

In the process neighborhood blocks become kingdoms, daily walks or runs become battles, and an element of strategic planning absent from typical running programs can make each mile felt earned, not endured.


Run An Empire is projected to be available August 2014 for both iOS and Android devices.

Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at