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Async Gaming

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17 Aug 2020

Asynchronous Gaming

I love turn based games. I like the idea that you have full control over play for a short period and then play is passed to the next person. Each turn is uninterrupted meaning strategy and deception can shine.

Taking turn based games one step further leads to asynchronous gaming, where neither player is playing the game at the same time. You complete your turn and then hand the game over to the next player to play at their leasure.

Note: There are other kinds of async games. I’m specifically talking about async turn based games here. Please don’t assume I am endorcing FarmVille. Although I do have a soft spot for Subterfuge it doesn’t fit in this category either.

Gaming vs Productivity

For a lot of people gaming is a time sink. Games like Fortnite take around 20 minutes each match. MOBA games like League of Legends are closer to an hour each. RPG game play-through times are measured in days. Even some turn based games like Civilization can even take many hours.

It’s pretty clear that gaming negatively affects productivity due to the pure time investment required. I will never advocate for removing games, but there are ways to limit your play time so that you can continue to be productive.

There are traditional methods for limiting time spent doing an activity, such as a pomodoro technique, however these aren’t as effective for video games which are designed to be addictive. Instead I propose switch the games you play out for ones that force you to step away.

Selecting an online asynchronous game that has a long turn (couple minutes) per player is the best way to optimise your gaming time.

What Async Gaming Looks Like

As an example, I am currently playing a couple games of (correspondence) chess via Lichess and a handful of Civilization 6 games (via play by cloud). Each turn takes a couple minutes of my time and then I am forced to wait for the other players to take their turns, which they do at their own leasure.

Waiting for turn...

The important part to note here is that the turn time limit is huge. For chess I play with a 3 day turn timer and for Civ there’s no enforced limit but we try to maintain a turn per day at minimum. This is plenty of time to eat, sleep, do other productive things. You only pick up your turn when it is convinient for you and you end up with a more productive lifestyle.

The downside is that each game takes days or even months to complete. You might feel like you have to have a way to keep track of what your strategy is / was, until you realise the everyone else in the game is playing with the same restrictions.

Social Bonus

As an added bonus, there’s a social benefit to gaming this way.

It can be really hard to organise times when everyone is available to play, especially when everyone has kids and jobs to go to. Games like Civilization that take huge amounts of time to complete in a single sitting around feasible for some people like myself. Playing asynchronously allows you to play with people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to play with.

We also set up channels for talking about the game outside the game. This adds another dimension to the game, where you have to play the people aspect. It can also add flavour for people who like to role play.

Role play "enhancing" a game


These days I don’t play a lot of games outside this genre because it satisfies my gaming itch. That won’t be the case for everyone, comment down below with your thoughts or experiences.

Thanks for reading

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