Game Time Manipulation

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Actions that let players affect how game time progresses in a game.

The rules of games typically have cause and effect structures that mean that a game instances can be described as a sequence of gameplay events that in sequence affect the initial game state. However, some games allow Game Time Manipulation as actions in which players can affect the speed in which these rules apply, reserve the flow of events, or abruptly jump to earlier points of gameplay time.


The platform puzzle game Braid allows players to rewind game time (although not all game element adhere to this) to be able to solve the various levels. The Max Payne series and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time allows players to slow time through activating "bullet time"; Dishonored does the same but also latter in the game lets players freeze time completely as well.


Zork II and Day of the Tentacle include time travel but since this "only" moves players to other places and time in the game it does not actually affect the sequence of gameplay events.

Using the pattern

For Real-Time Games, Game Time Manipulation is typically only used in Single-Player Games since when it is applied to Multiplayer Games it typically removes the Player Agency of other players. Extra Turns can be considered a way to cause Game Time Manipulation in Turn-Based Games which also can cause problems with Player Agency (and Player Balance). Being more limited, some versions of Extra Chances can be viewed as providing possibilities in Turn-Based Games to go back very briefly in game time to try actions again. As interpreters of game rules and presenters of game events, Game Masters can do this on larger scales if they believe players should be allowed to change their mind regarding what action they choose to do (typically reasons for this can be not having the same view of the gameplay situation as the Game Master).

The main design choices regarding Game Time Manipulation is how game time should be able to be manipulated. This basically consist of choosing from if game time should be able to be stopped, quickened, slowed, and/or reserved. It may either be a permanent ability or one given them as Rewards or, more rarely, Penalties; the ability to manipulate game time can also be the effect of Power-Ups. Regardless, it is typically a Privileged Abilities since it is only provided to one player and no other Agents.

Game Time Manipulation can often be performed by players through non-game actions. Being able to do Game Pauses is a weak form of Game Time Manipulation but can give players more time to consider what to do next in a game. Save-Load Cycles allow players to test actions and if the consequences of these are seen as unwanted go back to earlier point in the sequence of gameplay events to begin gameplay from there.


Game Time Manipulation can give players Freedom of Choice in being able to enable Reversibility and change what happens in a game instance. It can be difficult to combine with Surprises since possible effects to being surprised can be nullified by players going back in time to before the Surprises took place.

The possibility of Game Time Manipulation in games can affect the actual time available in both Time Limited Game Instances and challenges with Time Limits.


Can Instantiate

Freedom of Choice, Privileged Abilities, Reversibility

with Single-Player Games

Penalties, Rewards

Can Modulate

Power-Ups, Real-Time Games, Time Limited Game Instances, Time Limits

Can Be Instantiated By

Extra Chances, Extra Turns, Game Masters, Game Pauses, Save-Load Cycles

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With


Player Agency in Multiplayer Games


New pattern created in this wiki.