During many video games, when the player pauses the game or pulls up their inventory screen, they can have the character perform some actions even though the game is technically "paused" and no action should be possible.
Usually this is pretty mundane stuff
like reorganizing their inventory or locking in which action they want to take, which helps to represent their character's relative skill and alleviate the use of an interface. Sometimes, though, this can get downright wacky, like when a character apparently calls a time-out while the monster's fangs are two inches from his or her face in order to two-fist sixty or seventy raw potatoes in order to regain health
or constantly switch into armor that resists fire right before the boss breathes fire on them.
Obviously, turn-based games don't really count, nor do any other games that are built with the assumption that the player is allowed to take their time and make choices strategically in any situation. Minor examples of this are pretty ubiquitous and probably don't need to be listed in their entirety, but extreme examples, interesting uses and aversions are welcome.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim you are fully capable of rifling through your inventory and using items while paused. Drawing a new spell or weapon? Plausible. Chugging several potions? Pushing it. Devouring several hundred pounds of food? We're well into Refuge in Audacity and Acceptable Breaks from Reality now.
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater leans heavily on this to the point of self-awareness. The game knows you can go into your inventory at any time and change Snake's camouflage in an instant, and fully expects you to do so.
- Much like the Elder Scrolls example, Video Game/Fallout3 is built on a similar engine and has a similar inventory system, so the same applies. Many players feel similarly about the VATS targeting system, which merges the called shot mechanic of the original (turn-based) games with the new first-person shooter game engine.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and its infamous Water Dungeon required the player to utilize the pause menu frequently to put on and take off heavy iron boots, often in situations when this would be very difficult to accomplish and leave Link vulnerable to danger. The remake for the Nintendo 3DS made this much faster and easier, making it perhaps no more logical but no longer an example of this trope, at any rate.
- The Kingdom Hearts series is often balanced around forcing you to manage your inventory on the fly while running around fighting enemies. While enemies are present, the regular menu simply becomes a pause screen that prevents you from using any of your menus, and you are given a very limited number of quick slots to assign actions to. This makes mobility very important.
- Dragon Quest IX doesn't pause the movement of enemies on the field while you're fiddling around in almost all of your important menus, which helps to preserve the feeling of urgency in dangerous places.