Time sink

Last updated

A time sink (also timesink), time drain or time-waster [1] is an activity that consumes a significant amount of time, especially one which is seen as a wasteful way of spending it. Although it is unknown when the term was coined, it makes an analogy with heat sink. [2]


In video games

In massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), time sinks are a method of increasing the time needed by players to do certain tasks, hopefully causing them to subscribe for longer periods of time. [3] Players may use the term disparagingly to describe a simplistic and time-consuming aspect of gameplay, possibly designed to keep players playing longer without significant benefit. Time sinks can also be used for other gameplay reasons, such as to help regenerate resources or monsters in the game world.

Negative connotations

Many players consider time sinks to be an inherently poor design decision, only included so that game companies can increase profits. For example, one Slashdot article describes time sinks as "gameplay traps intended to waste your time and keep you playing longer". [4] In most games, boring and lengthy parts of gameplay are merely an annoyance, but when used in subscription-based MMORPGs, where players are paying recurring fees for access to the game, they become a much more inflammatory issue. Game designers must be prudent in balancing efforts to produce both involving gameplay and the length of content that players expect.

Time sinks are often associated with hardcore games, though whether this is a positive or negative association depends on the context.


Implementing time sinks in a video game is a delicate balancing act. Excessive use of time sinks may cause players to stop playing. However, if not enough time sinks are implemented, players may feel the game is too short or too easy, causing them to abandon the game much sooner out of boredom. A number of criteria can be used to evaluate use of time sinks, such as frequency, length, and variety (both of the nature of the time sink and the actions taken to overcome it). What is considered a good balance depends in part on the type of game in question. Casual games are often expected to have less in the way of time sinks, and hardcore games to have more, though this is not a hard and fast rule.

A good timesink has you interacting with the game on some level, earning some level of enjoyment or moving the story along. It might be "realistic", but keep in mind that you are trying to entertain people here and useless timesinks tend to do the opposite of entertain.

Matt Miller, MMODesigner.com [3]

See also

Related Research Articles

A massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is a video game that combines aspects of a role-playing video game and a massively multiplayer online game.

A virtual economy is an emergent economy existing in a virtual world, usually exchanging virtual goods in the context of an online game, particularly in massively multiplayer online games (MMOs). People enter these virtual economies for recreation and entertainment rather than necessity, which means that virtual economies lack the aspects of a real economy that are not considered to be "fun". However, some people do interact with virtual economies for "real" economic benefit.

Player versus player (PvP) is a type of multiplayer interactive conflict within a game between human players. This is often compared to player versus environment (PvE), in which the game itself controls its players' opponents. The terms are most often used in games where both activities exist, particularly MMORPGs, MUDs, and other role-playing video games, to distinguish between gamemodes. PvP can be broadly used to describe any game, or aspect of a game, where players compete against each other. PvP is often controversial when used in role-playing games. In most cases, there are vast differences in abilities between players. PvP can even encourage experienced players to immediately attack and kill inexperienced players. PvP is often referred to as player killing in the cases of games which contain, but do not focus on, such interaction.

Tibia is a multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released in 1997, developed and published by CipSoft. It is one of the earliest and longest-running MMORPGs, reaching its peak of popularity in 2007. It is a free game to download and play. However, players may pay to upgrade to a premium account, granting substantial in-game benefits. Tibia is a two-dimensional tile-based game set in a fantasy world with pixel art graphics and a top-down perspective.

In tabletop games and video games, game mechanics are the rules or ludemes that govern and guide the player's actions, as well as the game's response to them. A rule is an instruction on how to play, a ludeme is an element of play like the L-shaped move of the knight in chess. A game's mechanics thus effectively specify how the game will work for the people who play it.

Game balance is a branch of game design that is described as a mathematical-algorithmic model of a game's numbers, game mechanics, and relations between the two. Game balance consists of adjusting values to create a certain user experience. Players’ perception and experience are the objectives of game balancing.

A griefer or bad-faith player is a player in a multiplayer video game who deliberately and intentionally irritates and harasses other players within the game (trolling), by using aspects of the game in unintended ways in order to destroy something another player made or built, or stealing something, such as items or loot, when that is not the primary objective. A griefer derives pleasure primarily, or exclusively, from the act of annoying other users, and as such, is a particular nuisance in online gaming communities. If a bad-faith player is attempting to gain a strategic advantage, it could be considered cheating.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Middle-earth Collectible Card Game</span> 1995 collectible card game

Middle-earth Collectible Card Game (MECCG) is an out-of-print collectible card game released by Iron Crown Enterprises in late 1995. It is the first CCG based on J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, with added content from ICE's Middle-earth Role Playing Game.

In role-playing games, an alternate character, often referred to in slang as alt, alt char, or less commonly multi, is a character in addition to one's "primary" or "main" player character. Players are generally not secretive about their alternate characters, unless having multiple characters is against the rules of the game, or in a role-playing environment where alternate characters might be judged by the actions of the primary character. In games where multiple characters are disallowed, enforcement of this restriction can be difficult, especially without specialized tools.

Grinding is a term used in video game culture, referring to the act of repeating an action or set of actions to achieve a desired result, typically for an extended period of time, such as earning experience points, in-game loot and currency or to improve a character's stats. Grinding is commonly performed in MMORPGs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Action role-playing game</span> Subgenre of role-playing and action video games

An action role-playing game is a subgenre of video games that combines core elements from both the action game and role-playing genre.

Permadeath or permanent death is a game mechanic in both tabletop games and video games in which player characters who lose all of their health are considered dead and cannot be used anymore. Depending on the situation, this could require the player to create a new character to continue, or completely restart the game potentially losing nearly all progress made. Other terms include persona death and player death. Some video games offer a hardcore mode that features this mechanic, rather than making it part of the core game.

Gold sink is an economic process by which a video game's ingame currency ('gold'), or any item that can be valued against it, is removed. This process is comparable to financial repression in real economies. Most commonly the genres are role-playing game or massively multiplayer online game. The term is comparable to timesink, but usually used in reference to game design and balance, commonly to reduce inflation when commodities and wealth are continuously fed to players through sources such as Gold taps; such as quests, looting monsters, or minigames.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to games and gaming:

<i>Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars</i> 2007 video game

Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars is a 2007 racing video game developed by Sniper Studios and Black Hole Entertainment, and part of the Crazy Taxi series. A compilation of Crazy Taxi and Crazy Taxi 2, Black Hole Entertainment ported the original games from the Dreamcast to the PlayStation Portable, while Sniper Studios added a new multiplayer mode. A new single-player campaign was foregone due to budget and time constraints. In the multiplayer, players compete against one another for customers and fare money. While Crazy Taxi received numerous ports, Fare Wars gained notoriety as the sole port of Crazy Taxi 2 outside of the Dreamcast version. It was released in North America, Australia, and Europe in August and September 2007, followed by a Japanese release in August 2008.

In video games and other games, the passage of time must be handled in a way that players find fair and easy to understand. This is usually done in one of the two ways: real-time and turn-based.

In computers, lag is delay (latency) between the action of the user (input) and the reaction of the server supporting the task, which has to be sent back to the client.

This list includes terms used in video games and the video game industry, as well as slang used by players.

<i>CrossCode</i> 2018 video game

CrossCode is a 2018 action role-playing game developed by Radical Fish Games and published by Deck13. Players control Lea, a player in a fictional MMORPG called CrossWorlds who wakes up with no memory and is unable to speak. Gameplay involves the player employing both ranged and melee shots to solve puzzles and defeat enemies, with differing elemental modes granting different powers used in combat and exploring.