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 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.
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.