I enjoy games with quite a wide range of playing times. I like long games that take a couple of hours or more to play, up to a certain point at least. Anything above three hours is probably going to be too long for me. I also love quick games that take 15 minutes to half an hour, but I’m definitely not a fan of real-time games. In this article, I want to look at how timekeeping affects the gameplay experience.
Quick and Dirty
Let’s start by looking at games that play in under an hour. The shorter they are, the better they are for when you’re waiting for others to arrive or to wind down after a long game evening. These games tend to be light on rules and usually don’t require a lot of thinking. You usually make quick decisions and it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes, because you can easily play again. Winning or losing is often a secondary motivation to play quicker games. They’re more about fun and filling time.
That’s why analysis paralysis doesn’t usually set in during lighter games. Nobody feels they have to fully think through their turn to make the best possible choice. Nobody worries that they’ll be spending a lot of time on a single game and therefore want to ensure they get the most out of it. Everyone knows that the game will be over quite quickly and they can either play again or move on to something else.
There are some quick games that come with a sand timer or similar device to keep the game moving. These games try to enforce a time limit to ensure it’s all over within a relatively short amount of time. I think that’s extra pressure that’s unnecessary. As I said, I don’t like real-time games and even if a game isn’t real-time as such, having a timed element in it can be really off-putting and create stress. I play games to have fun and to get rid of the worries and strains of the day, or the week. A game shouldn’t rush me. I want to enjoy it in my own time.
However, there is something to say in favour of finding a way to keep a game moving.