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Real-time strategy (RTS) games are a genre of computer wargames which do not progress incrementally in turns.[1] Brett Sperry is credited with coining the term to market Dune II.[2][3]

In an RTS, as in other wargames, the participants position and maneuver units and structures under their control to secure areas of the map and/or destroy their opponents' assets. In a typical RTS it is possible to create additional units and structures during the course of a game. This is generally limited by a requirement to expend accumulated resources. These resources are in turn garnered by controlling special points on the map and/or possessing certain types of units and structures devoted to this purpose. More specifically, the typical game of the RTS genre features resource gathering, base building, in-game technological development and indirect control of units.[4][5]

The tasks a player must perform to succeed at an RTS can be very demanding, and complex user interfaces have evolved to cope with the challenge. Some features have been borrowed from desktop environments, most prominently the technique of "clicking and dragging" to select all units under a given area.

Though some game genres share conceptual and gameplay similarities with the RTS template, recognized genres are generally not subsumed as RTS games.[5] For instance, city-building games, construction and management simulations, and games of the real-time tactics variety are generally not considered to be "real-time strategy".[6]


  1. Bruce Geryk. "A History of Real-Time Strategy Games". GameSpot. Retrieved on 2008-03-31. "Early computer strategy games adhered firmly to the turn-based concepts of their board game ancestors, where--by necessity--players had time to plan their turns before their opponents had a chance to move. Real-time strategy changed all of that so that games would begin to more closely resemble reality: Time was limited, and if you wasted yours, your opponents would probably be taking advantage of theirs."
  2. Bruce Geryk. "A History of Real-Time Strategy Games". GameSpot. Retrieved on 2008-03-31. "It wasn't until some time after the game was in development that I decided to call it 'real-time strategy'--it seems obvious now, but there was a lot of back and forth between calling it a 'real-time war game,' 'real-time war,' 'wargame,' or 'strategy game.' I was deeply concerned that words like 'strategy' and 'wargame' would keep many players from even trying this completely new game dynamic. Before 1992, wargames and strategy games were very much niche markets--with the exception of Sid Meier's work--so my fears were justified. But in the end, it was best to call it an 'RTS' because that is exactly what it was."
  3. "Top ten real-time strategy games of all time". GameSpy. Retrieved on 2008-12-02. "You can't really talk about the real-time strategy genre without giving a nod to Dune II, the title that kicked off the phenomena."
  4. Geryk, Bruce. "A History of Real-Time Strategy Games" (HTML). GameSpot. Retrieved on May 29 2007.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Adams, Dan (7 April 2006). "The State of the RTS" (HTML). IGN. Retrieved on 2007-05-31.
  6. Bruce Geryk. "A History of Real-Time Strategy Games". GameSpot. Retrieved on 2008-03-31. "Although games such as Populous and SimCity are certainly played in real time, these give rise to the "god game" genre, which includes such titles as the city-builder series from Impressions, Will Wright's innovative designs, and much of Peter Molyneux's work, including the upcoming Black & White. Games in this genre tend to appeal to their own fans, and while there definitely is an overlap between these two genres, gamers generally see them as distinct from one another."