CHI ’18: Playing to Wait: A Taxonomy of Idle Games

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Date(s) - 2018-04-23
9:30 am MDT - 10:50 am MDT

Room 515ABC, Palais des congrès de Montréal


Idle games are a recent minimalist gaming phenomenon in which the game is left running with little player interaction. We deepen understanding of idle games and their characteristics by developing a taxonomy and identifying game features. This paper examines 66 idle games using a grounded theory approach to analyze play, game mechanics, rewards, interactivity, progress rate, and user interface. To establish a clearly bounded definition of idle games, we analyzed 10 non-idle games with the same approach. We discuss how idle games move players from playing to planning, how they question dominant assumptions about gameplay, and their unusual use of resources such as player attention and computer cycles. Our work illuminates opportunities for the design of idle games, suggests design implications, and provides a framework for researchers to clearly articulate questions about this genre.