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What Are the Different Types of Free Running Games?

L. Baran
L. Baran

Free running is a type of sport or acrobatic pursuit in which people use the urban environment around them as a platform for stunts, tricks and unique movements. Since the pastime became popular in the 1990s, many free running games have emerged that allow players to experience the art of street stunts, or parkour, from the safety of their own homes. These games are available online, for home computers and for the many existing video game consoles. Free running games feature tricks, stunts, challenging levels, different environments and options for play with others.

Many free running games take their cues from traditional platform games in which players must negotiate progressively harder levels with challenging obstacles along the way. Learning how to navigate the environment and which skills to use in which situations is part of the appeal of these types of games. One key difference between traditional platformers and free running titles is the fact that there is a less linear feel. In most games of the platform genre, there is usually only one way to complete a level. Staying true to the spirit of free running, there are multiple ways to complete levels and differing rewards depending on the route and tricks chosen.

In theory, parkour is about learning to quickly navigate obstacles in an emergency situation.
In theory, parkour is about learning to quickly navigate obstacles in an emergency situation.

In some games, players must negotiate their environments quickly, in order to escape a chasing opponent or law enforcement official attempting to prevent their acrobatic stunts. Just like traditional parkour, free running games can be very social experiences and include multiple players exploring and experimenting in the same environment. Some games feature cooperative play between players, while others encourage competition to perform the most complex and impressive stunts or to get through the environment the fastest. Many games attempt to recreate the urban, street spirit of free running that is one of the primary reasons the art has become so popular.

Parkour can include climbing and jumping.
Parkour can include climbing and jumping.

While many free running games feature traditional urban environments, some have taken the concept and applied it to numerous other settings. These may include desert or aquatic backdrops, fantasy settings or safari adventures. In these games, players must be even more creative when moving about the environment and using stunts. Many of these titles are available to play for free online, as they are typically less polished and complex than games released for computers or console systems. Conversely, as complex and intricate motion sensor technology has become more popular, players are able to control some of their character's movement on screen with their own body movements when playing with video game consoles.

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Discussion Comments


@bythewell - Even those games which are supposed to mimic free running don't seem to really capture it to my mind. If you've ever seen videos of people who know what they are doing at free running, they can be absolutely amazing and seem like they are almost weightless.

And the thing I like the most about the free running philosophy is that it's not supposed to be a competition, except perhaps with yourself. I think that's another thing that gets lost in translation when people play video games based on it.


@browncoat - I think that one of the reasons people like these games on consoles is that it feels very realistic. I've played a couple of versions that were a lot of fun and it really made you feel like you could be out on the streets doing the same thing (even though I couldn't do a flip or ride a skateboard to save myself).


I have always wanted to play one of these games in real life. Not so much the part where you're running around the place doing tricks, as the urban aspect where you're participating in a city-wide game with other people.

There was a kind of tic-tac-toe version I heard of once, where people who participated were designated either an X or an O and had to go around tagging each other in a real city. I'm not sure what the overall point of the game was or how they determined the winner, but the idea of this kind of free running game is definitely intriguing.

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    • In theory, parkour is about learning to quickly navigate obstacles in an emergency situation.
      By: Mario Webhofer
      In theory, parkour is about learning to quickly navigate obstacles in an emergency situation.
    • Parkour can include climbing and jumping.
      By: willmetts
      Parkour can include climbing and jumping.