Game Pauses

Game Pauses

The progress of game time is suspended during Game Pauses

The suspension of game time can be either player or game system controlled. The player controlled Game Pauses are more often found in games which require constant player attention, but are played in situations that may create distractions to play.

Example: fast action games on personal computers often offer the players the ability to suspend the game time. The reason for this is usually to allow the players to leave the game for some time to do something else. These Game Pauses, however, can occasionally be used to cheat in a game, for example, to plan better ahead in Tetris.

Example: Cut Scenes and level changes are a form of Game Pauses as the progress of game time is usually suspended for a game system controlled amount of time.

Using the pattern

The effects of both player and game system controlled Game Pauses are more drastic in Real-Time Games but they also can be used in Tick-Based Games and Turn-Based Games to permit the players Downtime. Player controlled Game Pauses are almost always related to Extra-Game Actions, unless the Game Pauses are within the Consistent Reality Logic of the game.

Spawning, Cut Scenes, and Game Pauses associated with the players changing Levels are usual forms of game system controlled Game Pauses. Spawning in many cases is also an example of using Time Limit with Game Pause; the players can come back to the game only after a certain amount of time has passed. Save-Load Cycles automatically suspend the game time, due to the need to freeze the game state, sometimes even for very long times.


Game system Game Pauses can be used to modify the Tension for the players. For example, Cut Scenes are often used not only to allow the Narrative Structure to progress but also to give the players some time to plan ahead and relax for awhile from the stressful constant attention the game might otherwise require. Game Pauses in Multiplayer Games can be used to allow for more Social Interaction between the players. However, in computer games the possibility of choosing to have Game Pauses is most common in Single-Player Games since the Negotiation regarding Game Pauses could require more effort than the Game Pause is worth, especially as the reason for the pause may have passed and Immersion may be lost if any player can cause all players to have Game Pauses without the other players' consent.

Player controlled Game Pauses interfere with The Show Must Go On, and in games with otherwise Limited Planning Abilities created by Time Limits, the players can use Game Pauses to cheat by giving them more time to think ahead. Time Limits are, in any case, almost totally useless when combined with Game Pauses unless there are also Time Limits for the Game Pauses themselves.


Instantiates: Downtime, Extra-Game Actions

Modulates: Tick-Based Games, Turn-Based Games, Real-Time Games, Single-Player Games, Social Interaction, Tension

Instantiated by: Save-Load Cycles, Spawning, Cut Scenes

Modulated by: Time Limits, Consistent Reality Logic

Potentially conflicting with: Time Limits, The Show Must Go On