I'm attempting to research competitive games of a specific type, where the players aren't ever in "direct" competition with each other, and having difficulty describing them. General examples include racing games, where players individually try to get the best time on a track, classic arcade games, where players attempt to obtain the highest score, or, for a more recent example, the "daily challenge" announced recently for the PC version of Spelunky, found here: http://spelunkyworld.com/dailychallenge/

The key aspect is that (for lack of a better word) the games are completely asynchronous: Player A's playthrough never has a direct effect on Player B, and vice-versa. "Asynchronous" isn't a good enough term, though, because certain turn-based board and strategy games (such as Scrabble and Chess) can be played asynchronously, but they don't fit the criteria: they are directly competitive in that Player A's turn directly affects how Player B will respond or play. In the types of games that fit the word I'm looking for, a player's performance is unaffected by all and any of the other players competing.

Is there a word or phrase to describe this type of competition?

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    not sure why this question is receiving close votes. one of the highest up-voted questions on the site is a term question. – Paralytic Jul 25 '13 at 23:32
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    @fbueckert The normal English meaning of "request" should be used to make that judgement, and it does not seem to apply here. They're describing background for why they're looking for this term, not asking us to recommend games. Very different, and only one is off topic here. – SevenSidedDie Jul 26 '13 at 0:30
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    @fbueckert Just because we have a hammer doesn't mean everything is a nail. If this is getting bad answers, perhaps it is simply a bad question, not a banned one? Recommendation questions have been banned by type. We cannot apply that ban to everything that vaguely resembles a recommendation question when we squint and use our imagination. It is hardly attracting game recommendations. In fact, it appears to be attracting exactly what it seems to be asking for: terminology. This is not a stealth game rec. Behaving poorly for similar reasons does not make it one. – SevenSidedDie Jul 26 '13 at 3:55
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    @fbueckert While it's obvious I may be biased, "No, there is no such term," being the answer to the question doesn't mean that it isn't a valid question. – Mejwell Aug 6 '13 at 15:08
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    Exactly so. We don't close questions based on what their answers are. That's silly and circular. And this is still not a recommendation question, and there is no other ban policy that applies to it. By all means vote to close, but please find a valid reason. – SevenSidedDie Aug 6 '13 at 15:24

Challenge-based? That seems to fit what you are describing. The challenge could be to beat a high score or lap time or just about anything. Games like Forza have options to challenge a friend to beat your time on a specific track, which is competitive but not interactive.

  • As an aside, I've just realised that playing Football Manager online is a bit like this. – toryan Jul 26 '13 at 0:27

If there's no interaction at all, you might be able to describe it as a competitive singleplayer game.

Alternatively, you noted that the class of game has the slightly-less-common feature of not being directly competitive. You could describe such games as indirectly competitive, if you're feeling particularly literal.

If those don't work, you could make the analogy to an arcade or flash game.


There is no commonly accepted phrase or word that means specifically this type of "non-interacting competitive multiplayer."

However, the alternative, in which the players do directly interact, is commonly described as head-to-head.

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