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A time sink is a task that takes a long time or wastes someone's time. It is often used in gaming and other aspects of IT to talk about tedious, unproductive or annoying processes that are seen as a waste of time.
A time sink is also known as a time drain.
Using this term, some people might think that it is called a time sink because one “sinks a lot of time” into it. However, others have pointed out that time sink may have come about as a metaphor to a heat sink, a passive heat exchanger that traps heat.
“Time sink” has been applied to gaming in specific ways to talk about lengthy processes that players may have to go through, with no other discernible purpose than to draw out the game and extend play. Issues involving gaming time sinks may relate to whether there are fee structures in place that charge players by the hour. For example, one of the classic time sinks in gaming is a process where players have to continually fight and destroy the same enemies in order to slowly amass virtual points, gold coins or any other kind of assets for use in the game. Protracted searches in a complex labyrinth can also constitute a time sink.