Looking for a game that will get you off the couch and outdoors? AR Runner, a mobile application by Semidome, is just one of the growing number of mobile games that use augmented reality to get you moving.
But is it an effective and worthy alternative to regular running? Or is it nothing more than a game to keep yourself busy?
Let’s delve into the world of augmented reality games for runners by looking at the benefits of these types of games, who they are aimed at, and how augmented reality could yet change gaming as we know it.
- #1: An Increase in Physical Activity
- #2: Education
- #3: Navigation
- #4: Social Interaction
- #5: A More Immersive Gaming Experience
AR Runner: How it Works
Semidome Inc. released AR Runner in September 2019. Now on its 4th version, the game has thousands of players from all across the globe with one goal in mind – to reach the highest score in this augmented reality running game that will challenge you to score as many points as you run around a prescribed course of your choosing.
Using AR technology, AR Runner allows users to choose the size of the playing field as well as which mode they want to tackle. With 60 challenges to choose from, there is something for every age group.
This game overlays or superimposes digital objects into a real-world playing area – run along the playing field, collect as many spots or discs as possible, and rack up points along the way.
iOS Only… For Now
Designed for anyone over four years old, the game is great for runners of all skill levels and is free to download from the Apple iOS store. Currently, the game is only available for Apple products and can be downloaded onto an iPhone or iPad running the latest version of iOS.
Features of AR Runner
Here are just a few other great features users can enjoy when they play AR Runner:
- Photo mode that allows players to capture their score using the in-game camera
- Game progress can be synced using iCloud
- Record mode to capture those runs in real-time using the in-game camera
- Three game modes to choose from (free version)
- Additional game modes in the paid-for version
- Contains in-app purchases
- 36 leaderboards that allow players to see where they rank against other users worldwide
- Choose from one of eleven languages, including Spanish and Simplified Chinese
AR Runner will never replace the satisfaction and health and fitness results that come from a real run, but it’s a great alternative for those who are looking for a gamified alternative.
Game Modes in AR Runners
AR Runner allows players who download the free version to choose from one of three exciting game modes. These are:
- Normal Mode: This requires the player to activate spots in a certain order.
- 30-Second Rush: This mode requires the player to activate the most spots in 30 seconds.
- Enemies: Enemy mode requires players to activate the most spots while avoiding AR enemies in their playing field.
Players who pay for the premium version of the game can enjoy two more game modes, as well as two new field shapes and a larger field size to play on.
The Emergence of Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented reality is a great example of emerging technology set to change the face of gaming as we know it. Unlike the concepts associated with Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality overlays digital objects into real-world scenarios, creating a fun, interactive game to get the player up and moving.
One of the first AR games to hit the market was Pokemon Go, and we don’t need to tell you about the popularity of this game. Released in 2016, Pokemon Go saw millions of players worldwide running around open spaces with their phones in front of them as they searched for their favorite Pokemon – racking up points and getting their daily dose of Vitamin D at the same time.
This type of gaming will soon take over the gaming world as more users seek a more immersive gaming experience that only augmented reality can provide. Augmented reality in no way replaces real-world physical activity but is a good alternative to the real thing when you are pressed for time and cannot get away from the house. It’s also a fun way to get the whole family involved in physical activity.
The Benefits of AR Games
It seems only fair to look at the benefits of games like AR Runner for those who like to keep fit and healthy. Here are just a small handful of the most important benefits players can expect when they download AR Runner:
#1: An Increase in Physical Activity
Gone are the days when games kept you locked in front of a screen using only your hands to move your character around. Augmented reality games force you to get up and move around, increasing physical activity.
AR Runner is a great example, and while it’s not a running simulator, it helps to get even the little ones moving as they try to get their names on the leaderboard.
Do you remember your parents yelling at you that video games would rot your brain? Not anymore, Mom and Dad! AR games now include real-world structures and challenges that support critical thinking and problem-solving. In games like AR Running, players need to score as many points as possible before time runs out, and it requires a bit of strategy to win.
AR Runner can help teach kids their left from their right with arrows that guide them along the playing field as they collect points for reaching targets and checkpoints.
Given that the game requires you follow a mobile device, you will need an open area to run safely. This is not an app to take on your regular crowded urban running route!
#4: Social Interaction
While many AR games can be played by multiple players, some don’t allow players to connect via the game and require the device to be passed between the players. This is great for family time and can encourage groups of players to play together using a single device like an iPhone or iPad.
#5: A More Immersive Gaming Experience
What could be better than a game that allows you to feel like you are in augmented reality in the comfort of your home? AR games are composed of digital content overlaid into the physical environment and can change your gaming environment drastically.
This makes the game more interactive and real, making you feel like you are in the game itself and not viewing it through a screen.
The Cons of AR Games
Like with many other things, augmented reality games have a few cons. From accidents and injuries to isolation from the real world, AR gaming has a few dangers.
Video gaming addiction was first recognized as a mental health issue in 2013 after extensive studies into the world of gaming. While many can control their game time, others would get lost in the game for hours, resulting in a complete change in their mental and physical state.
AR Runner focuses on quick bursts of running rather than long bouts of activity, keeping the game short and sweet.
#2: Lack of Social Interaction in the Real World
Getting lost in a video or mobile game is so easy. While it’s perfect for shy introverts, it can quickly result in isolation and a lack of social interaction with the outside world as they immerse themselves in augmented reality. AR Runner encourages multi-player gaming as a way to combat this issue.
#3: Risk of Accident or Injury
AR games run the risk of causing injury to the player or those around them as they focus on their mobile phone or tablet screen. While many AR games use glasses to play, AR Runner doesn’t. It’s only available for download and use on iPhones or iPads.
AR Runner provides a warning on the welcome screen to alert players to be aware of their surroundings while playing the game to reduce the risk of injury or accidents.
AR Runner for Runners: Is it a Good Alternative to a Run?
Short of time and want to get a quick workout in? Is the weather miserable outside? Are you looking for a fun way to keep the kids entertained? If you answered yes to any of these, AR Runner could make for a novel afternoon of burning off some steam.
AR Runner in no way replaces a proper run but can be great for that quick workout when you have a burst of energy or want to work off a heavy meal. It also makes for a great workout if you work through the game’s levels. Choose your playing field and get moving as you try to get your name at the top of the leaderboards.
AR Running Apps: Watch This Space…
Much like virtual reality, augmented reality is taking over the gaming world by providing new and exciting digital constructs in the real world. From running games like AR Runner to Pokemon Go and Jurassic World Alive, the number of AR games available today only confirms how gamification can be used to replace regular activities by adding a gaming element to them. They’re fun and use real-world objects to increase the gaming experience.
There are, of course, both benefits and disadvantages to AR gaming, so consider these before you start your AR gaming journey and download these games to your device.
The Apple iOS Store is now home to over 2,000 AR games, while the Google Play Store provides Android users with over 200 AR games. With technology advancing rapidly, this number will skyrocket in the coming years as the AR gaming industry is set to be worth a mindblowing $340 billion by 2028.
With augmented reality gaming now available to the everyday person, we’re excited to see what new and exciting changes are coming and how AR will change our lives as we know them. So download one and enjoy the augmented reality experience when paired with an exciting game. Who knows – you might become a pro and find yourself at the top of the leaderboards.