The Fundamentals of Runner Games

Runner games are a popular genre of video games where players control a character or object that continuously moves forward through an obstacle-filled environment. The objective is to navigate through the obstacles, achieve high scores, or complete specific goals.

In a runner game, the character or object automatically moves forward, and players must overcome obstacles and hazards by jumping, sliding, or dodging. The game progressively becomes more challenging as the speed increases or new obstacles are introduced. The goal is often to survive as long as possible, earn high scores, or reach specific milestones.

Endless runner Sonic game on Android.

Here are some fundamental elements and features commonly found in runner games:

Endless Running

Runner games often have an endless or infinite gameplay loop, where the character keeps running until they collide with an obstacle or fall off the screen. The game progressively becomes more challenging as the speed increases or new obstacles are introduced.

Side-Scrolling Perspective

Most runner games use a side-scrolling perspective, where the game world moves horizontally from left to right (or vice versa), creating the illusion of continuous movement. This perspective allows players to anticipate upcoming obstacles and plan their actions accordingly.

Obstacles and Hazards

Runner games feature various obstacles and hazards that the player must overcome. These can include gaps to jump over, pits to avoid falling into, moving platforms to navigate, spikes to dodge, or objects to slide under. Obstacles are often arranged in patterns or sequences to test the player's reflexes and timing.

Power-Ups and Bonuses

To enhance gameplay and provide players with an advantage, runner games frequently incorporate power-ups and bonuses. These can include temporary speed boosts, invincibility, extra lives, coin magnets, double jumps, or shields. Power-ups are usually scattered throughout the game world, and collecting them can help players survive longer or earn more points.

Score and Progression

Runner games typically feature a scoring system to track the player's performance. Points are awarded for various actions, such as collecting items, overcoming obstacles, or covering distance. Some games may include combo systems that reward consecutive successful actions. Players often strive to beat their own high scores or compete with others on leaderboards.

Responsive Controls

Runner games often rely on simple and responsive controls to maintain the fast-paced nature of the gameplay. Common control mechanisms include tapping or clicking to jump, swiping to change lanes, or tilting the device to steer. Intuitive controls are crucial to provide players with precise control over their character's movements and actions.

Visual Style and Themes

Runner games come in various visual styles and themes, ranging from futuristic and sci-fi settings to whimsical and cartoonish environments. The art style and theme often contribute to the game's atmosphere and may influence the design of the obstacles, characters, and backgrounds.

Level Design and Progression

While some runner games are purely endless, others feature structured levels or stages with increasing difficulty. In level-based games, players can progress through a series of predefined levels, each introducing new challenges, obstacles, or environments. Level-based runner games may also include boss fights or special stages to break up the gameplay.

Unlockable Content

Many runner games offer unlockable content as an incentive for players to continue playing. This can include new characters with unique abilities or appearances, alternative game modes, additional levels, or customization options to personalize the game experience.

Sound and Music

The audio elements in runner games, such as sound effects and background music, contribute to the overall immersion and atmosphere. Catchy tunes and responsive sound effects enhance the gameplay experience and can help create a sense of urgency or excitement.


Game developers who are interested in making a runner game should consider using the Unity engine to accomplish the task.

Unity is a popular and versatile game development engine that can be used to create runner games. It provides a user-friendly interface, powerful tools, and a wide range of resources, making it an excellent choice for beginners and experienced developers alike.

Begin your endless runner development journey by installing the Unity engine.