Temporal Dark Patterns

A temporal dark pattern is designed to get you to spend more time playing the game than you would have otherwise.

A good game allows you to play it whenever you want, and allows you to play it for as long or as short as you want. When a game interferes with this, then it is exhibiting a Temporal Dark Pattern. The purpose of using these Temporal Dark Patterns is to get you to spend more time in the game than you would have otherwise spent. If this time is spent watching more advertisements or purchasing more in-app items, then the game developer benefits at your expense. The game developer's goal is to get you addicted to the game by tricking you into playing the game more often. Habits are hard to break, so if you develop a habit of playing the game, you may keep playing it even when it is no longer enjoyable.

There are many tricks that game developers can use to get you to waste your time in the game. If the game forces you to play on certain days or at certain times of the day, then it is using a Dark Pattern called "Playing by Appointment". It may not be convenient for people to play the game at certain times of the day, but the game penalizes you if you don't.

Many games may try to get you in the habit of playing every day by offering a daily reward or using timers to make you wait to play another time. The more often you check into a game, the more likely it is to become a regular habit.

Some games waste your time by making you grind repetitive tasks over and over again. Some people may enjoy this type of gameplay, but others may not and may only do it begrudgingly as a means to achieve something else in the game. Sometimes a game may prolong gameplay by preventing you from saving or putting you on an infinite treadmill. If a game has advertisements, then this extra time benefits the game company while creating a negative experience for the player.
Citations and SourcesDark Patterns in the Design of Games


Playing by Appointment
Being forced to play according to the game's schedule instead of yours.
Daily Rewards
Encourages return visits every day and punishes you for missing a day.
Being required to perform repetitive and tedious tasks to advance.
Forced to watch ads or given rewards for watching ads.
Infinite Treadmill
Impossible to win or complete the game.
Can't Pause or Save
The game does not allow you to stop playing whenever you want.
Wait To Play
In-game timers that make you arbitrarily wait for something.