Time management (video game genre)

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Time management games are a genre of video game focused around fast real time allocation of resources in a consequent order to fulfill the level objectives. The player must react to the incoming requests that occur as they play and serve them in the most effective manner to get the greatest possible reward. They are usually limited in time, and their resources limit the speed at which they can serve the requests. As a game progresses, the player usually has a possibility to upgrade their available resources by spending the earned rewards.

Time management is a subgenre of casual games and Strategy video games. The genre is relatively young, and there are not many books on game design that mention it.[1]

Relationship to general strategy games

Although time management games are considered a subgenre of Strategy video games, they have their distinct set of features and lack some typical strategy game features. They usually don't employ war themes, instead they use work themes. The goals of strategy games are often to conquer a foe, while time management goals are usually to make enough money by doing work in the most effective manner. Unlike strategy games that are often focused on the multiplayer gameplay, time management games are single-player by nature.

Time management games appeal to a different audience than general strategy games. Strategy games' primary audience is considered to be teen and older males, while time management audience is considered to be adult women.

Game design

A typical time management game is a progression of levels, each of which sets a goal and a time limit for the player. In a level, the player would set priorities (or immediate actions) for actors in order to satisfy appearing sub-goals that can be represented e.g. as clients who want service or planes that need to land. In some games, you can set queues of up to several consecutive actions. The actors will then do the actions in the order set by player with their speed. Usually, if the action is performed too late, a sub-goal is failed. The goal of a level is typically to complete enough sub-goals within a given time limit. Between the levels, the players would upgrade their actors using game currency earned in the level, e.g. make them move faster, make clients wait longer before failing a sub-goal, serve more clients simultaneously.

Settings and themes

A typical setting for a time management game puts a player in a position of some kind of service worker. Some examples are waiter or cook in a restaurant, airport dispatcher, office manager. There are games with different settings.

The art theme is usually friendly, cheerful and simple as it is a common practice in casual games. Typically the game progresses through several (3-4) theme variations that represent different locations which is represented by changes in backgrounds and appearance of game objects.

Examples of time management games include Airport Mania, Diner Dash, Flight Control and Kingdom Chronicles.


  1. Bateman, Chris (2010). Beyond Game Design: Nine Steps Toward Creating Better Videogames. Course Technology PTR. p. 90. ISBN 9781584506713.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>