Created By: Shieldage on June 15, 2013 Last Edited By: Shieldage on June 14, 2014
Troped

Sudden Game Interface

Your \'normal\' life suddenly acquires a menu with stats and achievements

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Speculative Fiction Trope. RPG-Mechanics Verse Subtrope. Might need a better title. Any webcomics or published works fit the bill? Thanks for those listed :)

-Note: I like what I've read at places like "The Video Game Plot" community on fanfiction.net . This would be where I make a Fanfic Recs Page, but there's no direct parent trope available. I believe that the common tag of \'Life is a Game\' violates the No New Stock Phrases rule. Current title inspired by DAN 004. Open to more suggestions.

You're living an otherwise normal life when weird things start happening. You find yourself hearing voices or seeing things you never were aware of before. You find yourself bound by strange rules and, when they come into conflict with what you had accepted as physical laws, it's often physics that break first. You're still in the same world and your friends and family are living out their lives. If you have a day job or a school schedule you may still have to show up, even if it means facing endless repetitions of what you remember. Congratulations, you're at the corner of a Game Mechanics Verse and a Broken Masquerade.

There's many ways your path can take and, even surrounded by familiar people, you might be forced to go alone.

Yes, you're in a subtrope of RPG-Mechanics Verse. In most of those worlds and stories it's generally not surprising to the average denizen that physics works by die mechanics or that the tech/magic for Head's Up Displays exist, but this trope focuses on plots where \'reality\' comes as a complete surprise to at least one character. It could be that they're seeing behind a Masquerade for the first time to the Character Sheet they've always had, or they're leaving behind their Muggle society for a more Genre Savvy one.

It could be an artificial intrusion of an apparently programmed interface that either acts as a barrier/overlay to the underlying reality or begins to rewrite it, such as a gameshow being enforced by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens or a pantheon's main god deciding one day to literally play with dice. It could be a freshly minted pocket universe populated by clones of 'real' people without their consent or a "Groundhog Day" Loop where the only way to break it is to play the game. The universe can even start acquiring updates/patches with or without an approachable system administrator.

While the main focus is on video games and the visual tricks they pull this is also open to statless board games and, in theory, there could easily be a character invaded by a pure Tabletop RPG. An intangible Dungeon Master could suddenly start 'following' someone around audibly narrating their actions and allowing them to ask for dice rolls that affect/overwrite causality.

Compare No Fourth Wall. Acts as a Game Changer. Relative of Trapped in TV Land and The Game Come to Life. Situations where it might be a surprise to the audience that the world runs on video game logic, but not to the characters better fit in with the supertrope.


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Examples

    Anime and Manga 

    Fan Works Peggy Sue 

  • Harry Potter: Game of the Year Edition by Casey W has a Harry Potter Peggy Sue from his accidental death at the graveyard to a New Game+ of avatar statues. It takes him two tries to get all the way from his parents\' death to his eleventh birthday, but he does unlock a secret \'wand select\' menu and a pleasant print manual for the beta-test of his system.
  • Harry Potter and the Train to Nowhere by Joshua The Evil Guy has a Harry Potter Take a Third Option at Kings Cross Station. \"Harry Potter and the Arcade\" has a slightly bugged avatar selection, an epically expanded interface and the theme music\'s nice. Even on Easy mode, the world is huge and full of secrets, Challenges, Creation Stations and a rigid checkpoint system that forcibly rewinds Harry when he fails Objectives. Fortunately he has a Pause function and boosts from his equipment and familiars. Battle is carried out Final Fantasy style and Harry builds his party from a selection of canon and crossover characters.
  • The Adventures Of Harry Potter, the Video Game: Exploited by michaelsuave has a Harry Potter die in the Forbidden Forest and wind up in front of a Game Over screen. After going a bit nuts he winds up in a version of Surrey bounded by an Invisible Wall and full of quests and secrets like the very painful cat Arena. He quickly finds he can grind simple tasks by failing them repeatedly and that jumping costs no endurance, unlike walking, so he bounds everywhere as he does everything he can to make his level and stats climb higher and higher...
  • Harry Potter: New Game Plus by brenco opens with Harry Potter watching his Good Ending scroll by as a text epilogue. After starting his New Game+ he finds that the Hogwarts staff has been shuffled. Many characters have been reduced to Stock NPCs, although Hagrid manages to override his static programming and hug the boy when Harry has a breakdown. Exploiting a clipping bug, Harry manages to escape into the \'real world\' where he lives comfortably for a few years until he finds out about how games work and, after a lot of research, decides to go back in. One of the chapters is a Strategy Guide for a very variable SNES RPG starring our hero...
  • Naruto: Game of the Year Edition by Majin Hentai X has a Naruto Peggy Sue from his death at the Valley of the End to an arena of unlockable avatar statues. Each statue is a timeline in need of repair and the dedicated sysadmin staff may actually be Shinto gods. The amount of severe Game Breaking Bugs means that Jiraiya gets signed on as support staff. Too bad he\'s a target for assassins from soon after his birth - takes him a \'\'long\'\' time to make it to the first checkpoint.
  • Naruto: Ramen Days by Rathanel has Naruto Peggy Sue from his death at the Sand-Sound Invasion to just before the Wave Arc. The interface is supposed to be a lot more user friendly, but the kyubii has disabled the hint menu, so it takes him five lives to make it past the tutorial and reach the first checkpoint after the Chunin Exams, which means it\'s impossible for him to reload and save the life of the Hokage before he knew he was in danger. His unlocked teammates see the menus and retain memories through reloads as well.
  • Death\'s Favorite Game by TheSilentJackofallTrades has Master Chief complete Halo 3 on Legendary mode, unlocking avatars and a ton of perk-granting acheivements, then Peggy Sue to before the Fall of Reach on Easy mode, where he dies almost immediately...
  • In the Life is A Game Multiverse a shared cast of Reality Warpers try to save worlds by empowering characters. There is no free saving or loading, no resurrection of KO\'d protagonists (other than controlled bouts in Marvel vs. Capcom) and all reality resets come at a great cost. That said, it gets pretty over the top. PCs unlocking harems is also a recurring theme.
    • One of their notable works, Mass Effect: Life is a Game by 117Jorn, has a Reality Warper offer Male!Paragon!Shepard a one-way trip from Mass Effect 3\'s endgame to the beginning of the series. Upon arriving in his past, Shepard realizes that a Female!Renegade!Shepard! has accidentally fallen into his world as well, so he introduces her as his wife.

    Fan Works Standard Overlay 

  • Harry Potter and the Munchkins by Schwepcn has Harry Potter gaining video game powers on his eleventh birthday. In this Alternate Universe, all wizards are players so discussions of maximizing feats and stats are everywhere, but Harry is the only empowered protagonist alive (owls are his justfied save points). Keeping his reloading abilities secret he takes Save Scumming to epic levels with at least one time-turning raid on the Ministry and entire years of alternate timelines spent at Brazil and New Zealand wizarding schools. Solo adventure although Luna is apparently living through all branching paths at once.
  • Harry Potter the Game by Lord-Drakos has an invisible, enchanted Skyrim manual teleport into ten-year old Harry\'s room under the stairs. He immediately respecs his bloodline for the racial bonuses and puts a bunch of skill points into DADA.
  • Naruto: life is a Game by RebukeX7, part of the Life is A Game Multiverse, has Naruto read further down the forbidden scroll than the Kage Bunshin and transform the world. Killing him will end the nuttiness of the game overlay, which becomes at least one character\'s motivation.
  • A chapter in dogbertcarroll\'s Flickering Lights has Cordelia wishing that Xander\'s Karma would catch up with him. While the actual memory is quickly repressed, he gets some quality time with a Shadowrun Character Sheet that lets him use his accumulated experience, aka \'Karma\', to respec his Flaws and Edges, boost his stats and resources, and Awaken as a Shaman.

    Film Live Action 

    Video Games 

  • When Shirou stumbles into the \"Heaven\'s Feel\" ritual and becomes a master in Fate/stay night he\'s gifted with a viewable Character Sheet that explains about the Heroes, their skills, stats and abilities, all in RPG-Mechanics Verse terms, even how many turns an area spell lasts for. More than once the characters quantify mana in dialogue, and then spend the rest of the scene treating it literally like MP. This does not get him, or much of the main cast for that matter, out of going to school.
    • It should be noted, however, that Servants\' abilities are something that every master views differently based on what feels natural to them. The whole \'RPG Character Sheet\' method is simply Shirou\'s subconscious way of quantifying the information.
  • Persona3 has the protagonist stumble into what amounts to a pocket universe that\'s merging with the real world. Awakening his Persona allows him to feel when his stats go up, usually in town or at school, and the Social Links he makes enhance his affinity for the Suits of Tarot cards he uses in patterns on a Fusion Table to summon entities.

    Visual Novels 

  • CLANNAD has a mundane town being influenced by an \"Illusionary World\" that gives orbs whenever people meet certain acheivements. The protagonists start employing Peggy Sue methods to collect them all. Viewing the Visual Novel and the anime as a linked timeline, work done in the first makes for a a happy Reset Button Ending for the family.

    Webcomics 

  • As shown in the page image, Han Jee-Han wakes one morning to find he can see tags floating above the heads of everyone, including himself, because he's become The Gamer. He soon stumbles into a secret world of fighters and martial artists who can create and break instant dungeons. Han\'s abilities are uniquely aspected among \'natural ability users\', in that he can see stats, his body and mind grow through pop-up quests and exercises, and he has a Grid Inventory. While it allows him to interact in new ways, his view of the world isn't more \'real\' than anyone else\'s.
  • When Dongtae accidentally rolls one of the Dice: The Cube That Changes Everything he allows a nebulous Game Master access to his phone. The Objectives provided give him more dice which he uses to boost his previously hidden Character Sheet which had unluckily been all ones. It\'s apparent from one of the sequences that all souls in his world roll for their permanent stats before starting a new life, but forget everything on being born.
  • Subverted by Homestuck. No-one, besides possibly John, seems surprised that Sburb creates and manipulates physical matter. Programming languages like ~ATH can alter reality anyway. The class and tier system are game elements, but the countdown doesn't create the meteors. They were already there.


Community Feedback Replies: 55
  • October 7, 2013
    Koveras
    • Justified and played straight in Deus Ex Human Revolution: when you start the game, Adam is just an ordinary (albeit highly trained) human, so he has no way of telling how close to death he is or how many bullets are still in his clip. After the tutorial, however, he is upgraded with all kinds of crazy cyborg implants, among which are built-in Cool Shades that display all kinds of status information, from health to ammo, and highlight usable objects and enemies for him.
  • October 7, 2013
    Shieldage
    I'm not sure that Deus Ex HR with it's awesome HUD counts. I'm assuming that his knowledge of physics and "how the world should work" is the same before and after, he's just had his perceptions enhanced by directed programming. I haven't played the game, but if he had never heard of the Cool Shades tech and/or the abstract way that inventory is handled in a video game wasn't how he normally acquired weapons and heavy objects before the upgrades thanks to the addition of a sub space pocket then I think it would fit better...
  • October 8, 2013
    reflaxion
    Webcomics example (and a work that doesn't have its own TV Tropes page... hmm):

    • The premise of Korean webcomic Dice: The Cube That Changes Everything is that humans are born with a series of "stats" that they cannot overcome. The "dicers" in the series are able to increase their levels in different stats by collecting and rolling mystical dice.
  • October 8, 2013
    Bisected8
    If this is just "non-video game character realises they've become a video game character", isn't this covered by RPG Mechanics Verse?
  • October 8, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ This is about video games, not Tabletop RPG:s.
  • October 8, 2013
    Shieldage
    Thanks, reflaxion. Awesome comic, definitely fits the trope. Up to Chapter 6 which is good enough to make a reference here. Will finish it and consider throwing together a page for it in a couple days :D

    Bisected8, you're absolutely right, allowing for Save/Load/Pause and other stuff existing beyond/outside of RPG:s. This is a *subtrope* of RPG Mechanics Verse and related Game Mechanics Verses covering plots where the *discovery* of that is a surprise, either because it's been a secret all along, reality has been recently rewritten or a pocket universe has been created, so I'll update the description to reflect that.

    Paradisesnake, thanks for the support, yeah, I'll update the title. A theoretical story based solely on Tabletop RPG:s might go something like: Four people are involved in a car crash and they wake up several hours in the past, uninjured. They each write it off as a bad dream until this voice only they can hear starts Narrating as if they were player characters and there's this constant background sound of rolling dice that somehow affects the world around them...
  • October 8, 2013
    KarjamP
  • October 9, 2013
    reflaxion
    ^^ Not if I beat you to making it. ;-)

    (I probably won't.)
  • October 9, 2013
    KarjamP
    We have to change the name of this trope do a different one if we don't want this trope be cutlisted immediately upon launch by Fast Eddie for violating No New Stockphrases (which includes dialog-based titles).

    He doesn't care if this is a legitimate trope or not. When it violates that rule, it'll get cut.

    Which was why I've suggested Game Hud Overlay in the first place.
  • October 9, 2013
    reflaxion
    Not sure how well this fits, but:

    Anime/Manga
    • The anime adaptation of Clannad plays out as a standard anime love story between Tomoya Okasaki and Nagisa Furukawa, up through the birth of their child Ushio. Then things get worse. Nagisa dies in childbirth, Tomoya becomes distant from his daughter, and after Ushio also dies in his arms, he collapses in despair. Having been based on a video game, however, the anime relies on the source material's Plot Coupons to trigger a Reset Button Ending, allowing Nagisa to survive childbirth the second time around and giving the family their happy ending.
  • October 9, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ Is there some reason why the title was changed in the first place? I don't see anyone complaining about it in any of the posts written thus far...
  • October 9, 2013
    Stratadrake
    The old name was better, even if it wasn't totally accurate.
  • October 9, 2013
    pawsplay
  • October 10, 2013
    DAN004
  • October 10, 2013
    reflaxion
  • October 10, 2013
    Shieldage
    How about 'Game Reality Overlay'?

    Karjam P: Ouch, thanks. Much appreciated, it's clearly on the "Don't" section of Administrivia... Heh, updating YKTTW Guidlines with: Check out the Manual of Style section of Administrivia for "Do"'s and "Don't"s. so it'll be harder for new tropers to miss ;) I like the format of Game Hud Overlay, but I just realized that if I switch out "Head's Up Display" for "Reality" I can fit in, at least the movie adaptation of, Jumanji :D

    pawsplay: Thanks. Maybe? Literally In A Game seems more Trapped In TV Land than I'd like...

    Dan004: Sudden Video Game Interface? Sweet. Pretty cool idea, moving your phrase/name up to the bit in italics above. Sudden Game Interface...
  • October 10, 2013
    Shieldage
    reflaxion: Sweet. Reading through http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?t=79243 for the mechanics. A mundane society being influenced by another dimension? Orbs popping up upon meeting achievements and they're collected by using Peggy Sue methods? Will think on it a bit but, viewing the manga and anime as one linked timeline, it works for me.
  • October 10, 2013
    reflaxion
    I just thought of another one(-ish) for you. I'm not very familiar with the source material, but it's on my radar:

    Western Animation
    • Code Lyoko features an evil AI named XANA, who resides in a virtual realm but frequently launches attacks on the real world. While the heroes of the story are only able to combat XANA's goons in cyberspace, they are able to reverse the damage done to the real world after each battle through the use of a Reset Button that rewinds time by 24 hours.
  • October 10, 2013
    m8e
    Does Scott Pilgrim Vs The World count?

    Somehow I think this trope excludes it as it's not inside a game. But it still have "combo meters, written sound effects spelled out in midair, points, and extra lives".
  • October 10, 2013
    reflaxion
    ^ That's exactly why this trope would include it. Great example!
  • October 10, 2013
    Shieldage
    m8e: Sorry, that, while awesome, fits in with the main trope of RPG Mechanics Verse. This subtrope focuses on a segment of plots that occur in those worlds. While it may come as a surprise to the audience that Scott's world runs on video game logic, it doesn't to the characters.
  • October 10, 2013
    reflaxion
    Ah - I see.
  • October 10, 2013
    m8e
    ^^Ok, just wanted to be sure.
  • October 12, 2013
    Stratadrake
    I don't get the current image. How does it represent the trope?
  • October 12, 2013
    KarjamP
    Dice are often used in RPG's.
  • October 12, 2013
    Shieldage
    Heh, yeah. Taking it down, open to suggestions. Had trouble placing a caption under YKTTW format. Wanted to try an image from DICE with the caption like "When the DICE are rolled life becomes a game." or a Character Sheet example, but I couldn't find a properly framed panel through Google so I tried one of the comic's stock banners. Hmm... will look into making my own screencap or an image pickin' thread...
  • October 27, 2013
    reflaxion
    There's a manhwa called The Gamer which seems to fit this trope perfectly. I just stumbled across it and haven't read much of it yet, so I can't say for sure if it stays throughout, but feel free to check it out and see.

    http://www.mangareader.net/the-gamer
  • October 27, 2013
    Shieldage
    Wow, thank you. Awesome find :D

    Hmm... Going to try 'Gaming Life' as the title for awhile :)
  • October 27, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ To be honest, the previous title was better. Gaming Life can be misunderstood for "a life of a person who plays games".
  • October 27, 2013
    reflaxion
    Correction on my last example: The Gamer seems to be a webcomic as well. Korean webcomics seem to love this plot, huh?
  • October 28, 2013
    DAN004
    What's the "Bring on the xp" part of the laconic for?
  • January 13, 2014
    Shieldage
    Paradisesnake: True, I think I'm aiming for 'Gaming' as a verb rather than an adjective... Which is an odd use.

    DAN 004: Heh, 'xp' is short for Experience Points, which has too many letters for the caption. Will change to 'EXP'
  • January 13, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    Description are Wall Of Text. get to the point in the first paragraph; THEN elaborate on the trope.

    I know i'm guilty of this as well, But This Is Ridiculous.
  • January 13, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ I mean, you can just delete it. What is that line for, anyway?
  • January 14, 2014
    Shieldage
    ^ DAN 004: Workable. Have deleted it completely.

    ^^ Shanghai Slave: Thank you, definitely good advice. Rewrote it with an intro paragraph, formatted some of the variable bits and put most of it in second person. Hope that helps.
  • January 15, 2014
    Chabal2
    Red Mage of Eight Bit Theater lives like this, though no one else does (or understands what his "character sheets" are). He also accesses his items by speaking the menu options out loud.
  • May 28, 2014
    KarjamP
    Hmm, this trope hasn't had an update since January. I wonder if that means this trope's now Up For Grabs?
  • May 28, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Like the page itself states: YKTTW Drafts are automatically considered Up For Grabs after at least two months of inactivity by the OP (original poster).
  • May 28, 2014
    DAN004
    I'd have to say: That's not how you group examples.
  • May 29, 2014
    KarjamP
    Also, the image needs replacing due to being a duplicate of the one on Webcomic.The Gamer.
  • May 29, 2014
    Shieldage
    ^ Karjam P - Ooh, thanks. Hadn't realized that 'Up for Grabs' was an applicable tag. Plan is to launch when it reaches five hats, definitely open for others reworking it in the meantime. Yep, I uploaded this picture of Jee-Han's tag to The Gamer's page and this page at the same time... Is there anything technically against having it on two pages? Haven't seen it being frowned on by Administrivia, but I could be wrong... Heh, worst case scenario, might be easier to replace The Gamer's image with another iconic bit from the comic. Haven't yet found a better image for this trope, but if y'all can that would be awesome.

    ^^ DAN 004 Good point, had set that up when I was worried I couldn't find enough canon examples. Hope this is better.
  • May 29, 2014
    KarjamP
    Yes, the rules concerning page images itself forbids pages with duplicate images.

    If you can't find a better image for this trope, why not replace the one on The Gamer instead?
  • May 30, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
  • May 30, 2014
    Shieldage
    ^ Nemuru Mae Ni - Ooh, thanks for the complete entry. Sounds fun. Erm... I understand that a Light Novel is its own thing, or something that falls under Literature... but this has an anime adaptation, so I think it fits there as well... Will put it under the Anime and Manga heading for now.

    ^^ Karjam P - Thanks, good to know. Yep, that would work too. Found an image of Han thinking and added his health bars / stat block into the background. Think it'll work well?
  • May 30, 2014
    MorganWick
    Would Homestuck count?
  • May 30, 2014
    Shieldage
    ^ Morgan Wick - Hmmm... Homestuck is a game mechanics verse where everyone starts out with strife specibi and captchalogues before sburb is installed... That part's out for the same reason Scott Pilgrim didn't make the cut. It's just how their world 'normally' works. I seem to remember that no one seems overly surprised that you're able to move stuff around in other people's rooms with a virtual mouse, or that it violates apparent natural law... However, the stages of the game, the aspect and the god tiers, the countdown... These are all surprises... Ah. Everything between when sburb is first installed and when the countdown ends might be this trope and after that they're Trapped in Game Land... Eh... Maybe? I kind of read Homestuck more as they knew they were installing a reality altering game and just got more than they asked for.
  • June 5, 2014
    Shieldage
    Hey, had 'Gaming Life' up as the title for awhile. The popular tags for the fanfiction examples of this trope are 'Life is a Game' which I believe violates the stock phrase rule as a full sentence and 'Game of the Year Edition' which is definitely it's own thing. If I want people to find the trope more easily, I should have 'game' in the name... How about 'Game Change' as a descriptive pun? Game Changer exists and the slot for 'Game Change' is currently taken up by a book/tv movie, which could easily be moved to Literature.
  • June 5, 2014
    KarjamP
    "Game Change" could mean that someone changed a video game/sports game/board game/etc. that they were playing to another game.
  • June 5, 2014
    Shieldage
    ^ Karjam P - True, but the reference to Game Changer with its merriam-webster definition of "a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way" and its trope description of "this isn't just another plot element added to the pot, but something very significant that rearranges the storyline" just appeals to me :)
  • June 5, 2014
    DAN004
  • June 5, 2014
    Shieldage
    ^ DAN 004 - Thanks, but I'd rather something that stands out more from Game Mechanics Verse. Reborn As A Game Character would be closer, but rather long... The Game Reborn? ... Nah.
  • June 14, 2014
    Shieldage
    Well... Apparently Life Is A Game is a trope as of 6/8/14. Do I merge this page with that?
  • June 14, 2014
    Shieldage
    Heh... Yeah, I think that I will launch this trope and replace the draft currently on the Life Is A Game page, which only has three examples and a lot of pageholders, with a redirect to Sudden Game Interface. Thank you all for playing.
  • June 14, 2014
    Shieldage
    Thanks again to DAN 004 for the current title.
  • June 14, 2014
    DAN004
    Well...?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=vokkjdj6bqm93h1p5quqaxyk