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Sound, music and animation stop when the Xbox Guide is loaded. However I'm not sure if this "pause" mechanism also pauses play clocks. Do games that track playtime continue to do so when the Xbox Guide is loaded?

The Xbox Guide is the menu presented when you press the Xbox button in the middle of a controller.

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I think this is going to depend on the game, is there a specific game you're curious about? – agent86 Jul 14 '12 at 21:40
@agent86 I've been playing a lot of the Mass Effect series, but kept the question general on purpose. I'm going to mark James answer and let future askers be specific. – ahsteele Jul 15 '12 at 0:35
up vote 1 down vote accepted

It entirely depends on the application.

The Microsoft.Xna.Framework.GamerServices namespace has a Guide class. This class has a IsVisible property, which allows the programmer to check whether the Guide is visible should he/she choose to do so (usually done by initializing the GamerServicesComponent component and checking for the property at every time tick). So the programmer now has a choice to whether to do something about it when this event occurs (usually by pausing the game).

As for tracking gametime, the above paragraph still applies. It's up to the programmer.

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