There are more or less standardized TV-show/movie formats and recommended timings:


By the early 1960s, television companies commonly presented half-hour long "comedy" series, or one hour long "dramas." Half-hour series were mostly restricted to situation comedy or family comedy, and were usually aired with either a live or artificial laugh track. One hour dramas included genre series such as police and detective series, westerns, science fiction, and, later, serialized prime time soap operas. Programs today still overwhelmingly conform to these half-hour and one hour guidelines. Source


In the United States, most medical dramas are one hour long. Source


Traditionally serials were broadcast as fifteen minute installments each weekday in daytime slots. In 1956 As the World Turns debuted as the first half-hour soap opera. All soap operas broadcast half-hour episodes by the end of the 1960s. With increased popularity in the 1970s most soap operas expanded to an hour (Another World even expanded to ninety minutes for a short time). More than half of the serials had expanded to one hour episodes by 1980. As of 2010, six of the seven US serials air one hour episodes each weekday. Source

Interesting. Are there any standards of timing in game development?

Well, 5-20 minutes casual games, of course. There is even a "5-minutes-game" site. And 1-hour-gamer site. Are there 1-week, 1-year, 1-eternity game formats? Chess and Go - deep games that you can study all your life; but they are played in hour or several days (pro games). Addictive long-term online role-playing games (without win-condition) are played in monthes and, possibly, years. Replayability is an important factor to consider.

It's good when game design document contains a line: "A game is designed for solving in X hours". How can it be measured before there is any prototype or demo? When you know your game format, you know your audience (and vice versa). It is practical question.

Are there psychological researches about dynamic of gaming interest and involvement?

And is there a correlation between game format and game genre?

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    \$\begingroup\$ You also should differ from "InGame"-Time and "TimeUntilGameEnds", MMOs are dynamically and infinite, so you want to talk about the time a user has to spent into the game to have a satisfying success \$\endgroup\$ Oct 24, 2010 at 16:01

2 Answers 2


The thing to take note of is that standard episode times exist to make TV channel scheduling simpler. There's no equivalent of that in games, so why should designers worry about standard times?

We know gamers will only play a given game for so many total hours. We are those gamers. However that's not a function of the time we spent, we didn't look at our watch, notice we'd chalked up ten hours total on Mario and suddenly ceased to enjoy it. We stopped enjoying a game because our relationship to the experience changed over time: it no longer had anything we enjoyed. It became too easy or predictable, for instance. Difficulty is a large contributor to how long a player will stick around.


Good question. But I don't think it can be done effectively. TV shows have fixed durations and nothing the viewer can do will extend that. However most games progress at the speed of the player. Even the best estimate is not going to apply in some cases.

When you know your game format, you know your audience (and vice versa). It is practical question.

Even knowing your audience isn't enough. I play FPS games but I play them quite stealthily. I found I was taking 4x longer on certain Doom levels than other people I know because instead of running around shooting wildly I was creeping around every corner, picking off the demons, then retreating.

Obviously it's possible to measure how long it takes a tester to complete the game, but they aren't necessarily representative of a typical player.

Also, another danger of using such figures is that they don't translate well to different types of game. MMOs might provide virtually infinite continual content, whereas other games might only provide a handful of hours - but do the latter games have replayability? How do you meaningfully compare an RTS (many short sessions) against an RPG (one long session)?


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