Asynchronous gameplay is a popular phrase for describing various forms of online games that connect players but don’t require simultaneous play. Many eminent commentators have talked about the possibilities for this kind of gameplay, and how it might be the future for games.
However, in a fascinating debate on Gamasutra initiated by Ian Bogost, Raph Koster and I ran across a confusion of terms. Raph said that asynchronous games have existed for hundreds of years, citing play-by-mail Chess as an example. Except I think play-by-mail Chess is synchronous. When talking about synchrony, we actually meant two entirely different things.
Where many people casually talk about synchrony in relation to whether players are together in real time, I think it means games that require players to be in sync with one another in game time. This article elaborates on that idea and describes how real and game time intermingle.