Temporal Segmentation

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Limiting, synchronizing and/or coordinating player activity over time.

In most non-electronic games, temporal segmentation is the only way of breaking down gameplay. For example, games where players take turns segment gameplay by defining the order and manner in which players may participate, as well as implying that a player cannot play during someone else’s turn. Another way is by stipulating fixed time periods that define the duration of the game. Many sports games favor segmentation of this type by enforcing real-world time limits. This type of segmentation can take two distinct forms—the first regulates who plays when; the second specifies time limits or periods of gameplay. The first form is about coordination, while the second uses time as a resource.


Weak Example

In the arcade racing game Daytona USA the player is awarded time extensions for reaching certain checkpoints during a race. These extensions are added to a clock that is counting backwards. When it reaches zero, the player loses. It is interesting to note that in this case the player can lose the game in two ways. The first is by not finishing the race due to running out of time. The second is by not finishing the race in a decent enough position. (for example, finishing next-to-last).

This is a weak example because each race is in itself a segmentation of gameplay. This could easily be interpreted as a challenge or as a location.

Strong Example

Road Fighter (MSX)

Road Fighter is a racing game, where the player must get to the goal in each level before he runs out of fuel. Speeding up to the end is the key to win the game, dodging other vehicles and oil stains. Whenever the car crashes, some fuel is lost; there are some extra fuel bonuses that appear as the player advances without crashing for a continued period of time. The fuel gauge, which decreases steadily, serves as a counter displaying how much time the player has to complete the level.

Weak Example

In Dance Dance Revolution (PSX) the player must select a song to play. Since each song has a pre-determined duration it could be argued that Dance Dance Revolution segments its gameplay according to the length of each of the songs. This is a weak example because the duration of the song is not openly displayed and also because each song could be interpreted as a self-contained challenge that must be overcome. In fact, in order to not lose the player must maintain a certain score for the duration of the song.

References: Road Fighter. Konami (1985) Konami: MSX

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