The game with time.
Time – what is that actually? It seems to dissipate while gaming or doing any other activity that you enjoy doing. In the game itself, she likes to run away from you, and when she’s doing awkward work, you might think she just stands still. So it’s no wonder that the proverbial “playing with time” is also a popular element for game programmers.
Time as a “means of pressure”
Using the example of Super Mario Bros., the use of time as a means of exerting pressure can be explained quite well. After all, most of us know that little panicky feeling when the relentlessly ticking time ticks below 100 seconds and the music picks up the pace. The time limitation of a level is still used in more recent games. Even the New Super Mario Bros. are still fighting against the clock.
Of course, the various racing games are about “time pressure” of a different kind. In this genre in particular, time is ultimately the true enemy.
Time jumps and manipulation – time as a stylistic device
The Max Payne series with the stylish bullet time comes to mind here. This slows down the action for the player to slow motion. Now attacking opponents can be eliminated almost “in peace”.
Another variant of the time slowdown can be found in games like Fallout 3, but also in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. This skillfully used slowdown allows the player to prepare targeted attacks, among other things, and initially to have an overview of the scenario.
It is also popular to play with time, for example to save the hero from premature death on the screen. A popular example here is the Prince of Persia with the Sands of Time trilogy.
Other examples can be found in games such as B. Singularity and Timeshift. Here, too, opponents are killed and puzzles are solved through the various types of time manipulation.
The absolute classic when it comes to time travel is Command & Conquer: Red Alert. Go back through time alongside Albert Einstein to prevent World War II. At the same time, Command & Conquer ushered in the age of real-time strategy games.
While the Back to the Future film series has achieved absolute cult status in the genre of time travel adventures, the games based on the films only achieved a low level of popularity. But when it comes to “time travel”, the series should not go unmentioned.
A better representative of the genre, although more familiar to older PC gamers, is Day of the Tentacle from 1993. The time travel of some nerds is intended to prevent a power-hungry tentacle from taking over the world. The point-and-click adventure from Lucas Arts still has a large following today and combines the theme of time travel with a lot of offbeat humor.
Less funny, but with a lot of heart and mind, the “super power” of the title heroine from Life is Strange must be used. This special ability allows the protagonist to turn back time to a certain point in time and then intervene in what has already happened. This helps the titular heroine to handle the story and of course gives her some advantages.
Professor Layton’s young assistant undertakes a rather involuntary journey through time in Professor Layton and the Lost Future for the Nintendo DS. As a mysterious letter writer, he sends the professor and his own past self on a proverbially mysterious adventure.
In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the hero Link even becomes the “hero of time” thanks to a magical musical instrument. The ocarina enables him to travel through time.
The time on your wrist
A completely different approach to time is the use of clocks in video games. While we can reach the “Tick-Tock-Trauma” level in Super Mario 64 through the large grandfather clock on the second floor of the castle, the long-time gamer also likes to think of the agent game “Goldeneye” for the N64. In the role of the secret agent 007, the player experiences the story of the film of the same name and has to find creative ways out again and again with his Tag Heuer luxury watch modified for secret agents.
Hardly any other object symbolizes the term “time” like a watch. No wonder, then, that it is precisely this object that is also often used as an aid in games.
Incidentally, this also works in the other direction. Watch designers are also inspired by video games, as we impressively demonstrated in our recently published article.
Last but not least, when it comes to time, the speed run, which is often only mastered with open-mouthed and awed amazement, has to be on our list. The speedrunner has declared time itself to be the enemy. The game itself almost takes a back seat. Whole games are “hammered away” in record time and presented to the amazed audience in real-time videos. While the normal player sometimes needs 30 or 40 hours of total playing time to master a game, the speed runners run to the finish line in the shortest possible time. A prominent example is once again Super Mario 64. After all, the player has to get hold of a whopping 120 stars and also do a number of bosses in order to receive the winner’s cake from the princess. The best time for this performance is currently 1 hour 37 minutes 50 seconds.
The video for the world record can of course also be seen:
How much time the record holder actually needed to master the game so well is of course another matter. The speedrunner community, after all, sees their hobby as a sport. And like any other sport, the motto is simply practice, practice, practice.
The list of the game or the games over time can be extended as long as you like. After all, time is something we all have to contend with. In real life, but also in games. The question “What is time?” can be answered quite easily with Albert Einstein’s statement “Time is relative”. But while he was stating that clocks run at different speeds when they move through space at different speeds, it is little consolation to the non-physicist about the marks time leaves on all of us. But so much pathos shouldn’t really be used here.
That’s why we prefer to summarize it in a completely different way: Enjoy your time with your favorite hobby, spend a lot of time with your family and friends and make the most of your time in your own way.