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Imangi Studios co-founders Keith Shepherd and Natalia Luckyanova pose in a company photo.
David Williams /

Think about the number one billion for a moment: one billion fingers tapping on smartphone and tablet screens, one billion icons indicating data being streamed over radio wave-filled airspace, and one billion instances of an unusually popular game nestling on mobile devices. That’s how many times Imangi Studios’ Temple Run games — both Temple Run and Temple Run 2 — have been downloaded to date, says the company.

Not one billion unique downloads, mind you (I’ve downloaded it at least a dozen times myself, some of those for friends and family) but one billion instances nonetheless. That’s a lot of endless running.

In Temple Run, players swipe their screens in various directions to make a character jump or duck and turn left or right. The character is always running, and stopping indicates defeat. The game generates random twists and turns, head-smacking overhangs and leg-banging impediments, pulling you through a kind of Allan Quartermain (or Indiana Jones) jungle-scape fantasy. Stumble once and you’ll find a gorilla-thing swiping at your heels. You don’t want to stumble twice.

And on it goes, endlessly, with players unlocking points for meeting certain thresholds that they can spend like money (or, of course, spend real money if they’re impatient — and it’s easy to get impatient), racking up high scores shared on worldwide leaderboards. The goal is in essence to get the highest score possible, and plenty of players have maxed the game out. I don’t know what happens when you get to 150 million points in Temple Run 2 — my high score is in the lowly tens of millions — but according to my iPhone’s leaderboard readout, hundreds have hit the 150 million mark so far.

Among other Imangi factoids (trotted out to promote the game, per the milestone), Imangi said players had altogether spent 216,018 years playing the series, that over 32 billion games have been played collectively and that players have run a total of 50 trillion meters in the games to date. Sixty percent of players are female (and 40% male), the top three ways to die are “falling,” “collision” and “monkey,” and players have used the “save me” feature — spend points to continue from your death point — 140 billion times.

The original Temple Run launched in 2011, a few years after Angry Birds (one of the most popular mobile series of all time), so this is Imangi joining Rovio in the billion-downloads club, though Angry Birds, which hit a billion downloads two years ago, is now in the two billion downloads club, a point Rovio said it reached last January.

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