Temporal Coordination

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How a game regulates the actions of a player in a game, and how those actions are distributed in time

The most traditional form of coordination is players taking turns. In many games, at any given moment, only one player can perform actions in the game, while the other players wait for their turn to play; Tic-Tac-Toe is a classic example of this. In turn-based (rather than turn-taking) games, players independently decide their actions and then resolve the consequences of these actions simultaneously. Once the actions have been resolved, a new turn begins and the players must again decide their actions. Rock-Paper-Scissors is a classic example of turn-based coordination. This form of segmentation regulates players’ actions over time, but does not constrain the length of time their moves can take. For instance, completing a game of chess can take from a few minutes to as long as the players think reasonable to meditate their next move. The duration of the game is thus at the discretion of the players, not the game (Salen and Zimmerman).


Strong Example

Rampart The game can be played by one to four players. Each player prepares his fortress within the time limit, building ramparts with tetris-like pieces, and situating cannons within the fortress. Once the time is over, there is the attack period, where each player will aim and shoot her cannons the other castles. When the time for attacking is over, the will have another turn to rebuild their fortresses, if they do not succeed in rebuilding, they are defeated.

Strong Example

Civilization IV

In civilization IV each player takes turn making their moves and building cities or anything they wish to do. The next player only begins his/her turn after that person has decided the turn is over. The progression is determined by each player playing much like chess since it is turn based. The game soley relies on players to dictate the time disperment.

Relations with other elements of the ontology


Temporal Segmentation



Salen, Katie, and Eric Zimmerman. Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2004.

Rampart. Midway (1990) Midway: Arcade