Katta Spiel, Sultan Alharthi, Andrew Cen, Jessica Hammer, Lennart Nacke, Phoebe Toups, and Tess Tanenbaum. 2019. " It Started as a Joke" On the Design of Idle Game. In Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play. 495-508. doi:10.1145/3311350.3347180
With idle games, active withdrawal from the game comprises an essential part of gameplay as players wait for the game state to change over time. This mode of interaction is paradigmatic for the change of roles technologies have in our lives. However, the design elements of idle games are less well understood, particularly from the perspectives of developers. We interviewed six designers of six different popular idle games and inquired into their individual approaches. Via thematic analysis, we refine and expand on existing definitions of idle games as a genre, shed light on ethically charged practices of care in their design, and identify shared core characteristics between the games and processes. We then generate intermediate-level knowledge on the design of idle games. Our work contributes designers' perspectives on idle games and their design to a growing body of literature on the genre.