A form of Deconstruction
that specifically deconstructs Video Games
tropes including those relating to characters, storylines, genre or game mechanics.
At the minimum, it takes one aspect, and blows it up to such ridiculously exaggerated proportions
that it simply becomes laughable, as if to make a point that "You can't make a game based just on this!" or with some, "If you enjoy games because of this one reason then you are an idiot!"
In order to qualify, a single part of the game at the minimum must take at least one single trope, mechanic, or gimmick, and either explore it exhaustively to the possible point of Mind Screw
, or play it far too simple and flat to be taken seriously.
They often make use of Playing the Player
and can range in length from short flash games that exist to make a short point about the trope involved, indie projects written and coded by one or a handful of people, all the way up to high quality blockbuster AAA titles that utilise their high budgets & technology to make statements within the context of mechanical similarity to the games they are deconstructing.
Compare and contrast this with Comedy Video Games
and Parody Video Games
- Harvester: A deconstruction of Evil Is Cool and Video Game Cruelty Potential - not through heavy-handed moralizing, however. It's a mockery of the accusation that video game violence causes real violence by making the violence cartoonishly bleak, unrealistic, and improbable to follow through on. Even the bad ending outright states that censorship of otherwise fictional violence is moronic.
- META: Amateur adventure game design.
- Flower, Sun and Rain: Sidequests, convenient puzzles, event flags and adventure game mechanics in general. The game, and often even the characters, will deliberately waste your time while your actual mission is to stop a terrorist from blowing up a plane. No one's really clear on why you need to solve math puzzles at every turn, either, but they seem to accept it as normal. In the end, your reward is mostly mockery.
- Takeshi's Challenge was specifically designed to piss off the type of completionists and Easter Egg hunters who would beat a spectacularly bad game just to see if they could.
- The Stanley Parable deconstructs linear games that Railroad the player while giving the illusion of a living, explorable world. The creator of the game explains, "You will make a choice that does not matter. You will follow a story that has no end. You will play a game you cannot win." The HD remake also deconstructs the line between author and narrator, narrators themselves, and binary morality and lose-lose morality plays.
- Pyst can be interpreted as a deconstruction of how a tourist attraction can degenerate to decay or disuse, but that didn't completely pan out due to it being more of a half-hearted Shallow Parody.
Hack and Slash
- Divekick deconstructs the mechanics of a fighting game, by simplifying it to just two buttons: one to jump, and other to divekick.
- M.U.G.E.N, the customizable fighting engine by Elecbyte, can be seen as a deconstruction of crossover fighting games, as well as games with Guest Characters, as you can see the far more realistic consequences of having characters in your roster with widely different rules and gameplay. Gaze in awe as characters from games with the simpler mechanics note are mercilessly demolished by characters from fast-paced, combo-oriented games note , or games with more complex mechanics note .
It can also be counted as a Decon-Recon Switch thanks to the customizability of the engine, it is possible to edit the files and states of your characters, weaken the overpowering ones and buff the weaker ones for a proper balancing.
- You Only Live Once: Platformers in the vein of Mario. True to the game's name, if the protagonist or the antagonist dies, their death is permanent, and the other one of the two gets arrested depending on which of the two dies.
- DLC Quest: Overreliance on Downloadable Content.
- ICEY: The narrator will not so subtly hint that your whole purpose in the game is to kill the "final" boss, and that you should ALWAYS follow the floating guide arrows, and NEVER stray from the path laid out before you.
- Level Up: Leveling up in games.
- Braid: The classic Save the Princess story is followed to the letter, even being called out by name, until the last few levels, when your motives become increasingly questioned, and the princess is revealed as fleeing you the whole game.
- Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy: Checkpoint Starvation and Some Dexterity Required. Made by the same person as QWOP.
- Sonic the Hedgehog OmoChao Edition: Annoying Video Game Helper (This game actually has added challenge — you have to avoid everything that triggers Omochao's comments as much as possible for Rank Inflation, and for Speed Run enthusiasts, there's the fact that the timer won't freeze whenever Omochao speaks.)
- While not otherwise a deconstruction, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts opens with a Gotta Catch 'Em All sequence played ludicrously simple. The fact that this is coming from Rare makes it all the more painful.
- Default Dan takes every convention of the genre, and flips them around. Coins, cute enemies, cupcakes and other power-ups are bad, pits, spikes, and other normally lethal things are good, the princess kidnaps the hero's monster friend instead of the other way around... However, it's all Played for Laughs.
Shoot Em Ups
- The Modron dungeon in Planescape: Torment: Dungeon crawlers in general. Complete with enemies who don't know their motivation and leave items like, "A goody!" The game at large is a very thorough deconstruction of Protagonist Without a Past and Death Is a Slap on the Wrist. Instead of being simple gameplay mechanics, these things are the wheels that drive all character development.
- As a whole the game serves a large-scale deconstruction of RPG tropes. Among others, the point of the game is to die, you get your name at the end of the game, there are no elves, dwarves, or swords but you do get to equip eyeballs and your own intestines, the nicest people you get to meet are undead, and so forth.
- Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale: Is primarily all about running the item shop in an RPG. You can still accompany adventurers to the dungeons though, which ends up bypassing the deconstruction potential in the Fridge Logic of tropes like Vendor Trash, by having both sides of the game feed into each other in a way that dodges the question and wouldn't be true for the average shop.
- Progress Quest: RPGs that assign players randomly generated quests and don't require any real strategy. The game automates grinding and fetch quests which is all the game is.
- Ginormo Sword: Arguably, grinding and the emphasis on weapon upgrades.
- Yume Nikki: Exploration and sandbox gameplay. The entire game is a Beautiful Void and there is no plot to speak of, which has prompted elaborate Fanon and Wild Mass Guessing on behalf of the players, in an attempt to invest the game with externalised meaning.
- Super Press Space to Win Action RPG 2009: RPGs in general, and overly-linear Quick Time Event-heavy action RPGs in particular. The credits specify that the game was "inspired by God of War".
- Parameters is all about distilling an RPG to its purest bare-bones form: all the enemies and quests are represented by simple boxes and numbers and all you need to do is to click repeatedly on them. It manages to be pretty enjoyable nonetheless.
- Progress Quest takes it even further, with no degree of player interaction beyond creating your character (which actually has no effect on "game" "play" anyway...) It could be argued that it's more of an exercise in waiting rather than a game.
- Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is a deconstruction of the entire Star Wars franchise, especially the traditional Light/Dark dichotomy, as well as a variety of RPG concepts.
- Undertale uses EXP, LV, saving, and loading as relevant plot points. Additionally, it brutally deconstructs the idea of 100% Completion with it's Genocide Route: Not only does completing a genocide run irrevocably taint any subsequent playthroughs, the game will frequently remind you that you are going out of your way to murder everyone you come across, just to see what will happen - or even worse, just because you can.
- NieR, in addition to deconstructing several aspects of JRPG's and "save the world" plotlines in games, also deconstructs the concept of a "dungeon" and lampshades the concept of arbitrary challenges and rules placed at certain segments in games by having the characters point out how ridiculous the "rules" of the temple they're in are. These challenges also seem to be deliberately unfun and tedious to get through.
- DonPachi takes apart the concept of the One-Man Army commonly present in single-player video games, showing that in order to be able to take on enemy forces by themselves, prospective recruits have to slaughter their own military forces as training exercises. Only after seven years of this training is the player character finally fit to enter the elite DonPachi Squadron.
- Desert Bus, from Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors: Simulation Games. The simulation aspect is carried so far that the game is somehow less fun than it would be to actually drive a bus through a desert. Part of the point is making fun of how Moral Guardians claim video games to be ultra-realistic gore fantasies - a video game always takes some liberties with real life, or you get Desert Bus.
- Cart Life is a deconstruction of business simulators. You play the role of a small business owner attempting to start and maintain a retail business in a city. However, just like in real life, you don't get an objective menu, and there are no directions on where you need to go and what you need to do. Most importantly, it completely averts the expectation that you can pause the game by bringing up the menu screen. Just like in real life, there is absolutely no way for the player to pause the flow of time even when you are trying to read the description on a product or chat with a customer. And that is before even getting into the actual business part, in which you need to doing everything from getting the products from a supermarket to getting a permit yourself, all the while trying to balance and maintain the basic needs and addition of your character. In other words, the game demonstrates just how not fun and difficult it is to run a small business (and being a new immigrant/single mother) is in real life.
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: Sequels with suspiciously similar premises to the original, linearity and the illusion of choice in video games, and the concept of video games as a power fantasy, among many other things.
- The original Manhunt deconstructs and satirizes the conventional relationship between the player and the player character in violent video games. The protagonist James Earl Cash is being controlled from the outset by Starkweather, a weird, creepy guy sitting in a dark room in front of a computer screen, who watches him through cameras and urges him to commit unspeakably horrific acts. It's pretty obvious who Starkweather is meant to represent. And why does Starkweather urge Cash to carry out these shockingly violent murders? Because he's making a Snuff Film to sate the sick desires of people who find brutal violence entertaining (not to mention sexually arousing) — a camp that, going by his own creepy comments over the course of the game, he himself is part of.
- Nanashi no Game uses the cursed, nameless game to deconstruct RPGs. There's no battles to win, levels to grind or heroics to engage in — you just walk around, talk to people and collect hidden items that must be found to reach the good ending.
- Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion appears to be at first a deconstruction of horror games and their ever-increasingly usage of Jump Scares... but when you reach room 100 the creepy stuff happens.
- Spec Ops: The Line is a far more successful deconstruction of military shooters compared with the aforementioned Haze, stating that, for all their pretense of gritty realism, they are still escapist, dehumanizing, unrealistic power fantasies. One sequence in particular becomes exponentially more horrifying if you've played the similar, yet more throwaway "Death From Above" level in Modern Warfare. While it's at it, it also deconstructs playing shooters as a Power Fantasy, "moral choice" systems and the America Saves the Day trope. It can lose some of the impact of the above as it still contains a typical achievement system, that forces you to complete the game repeatedly, including the railroaded dehumanising incidents.
- Air Pressure: A romance visual novel where the male protagonist can improve his relationship with a cute girl — except that said relationship is toxic and the best ending comes from the protagonist realizing this and breaking up with her.
- I Hate You: Dating sims. Exactly What It Says on the Tin, as no matter what you do or how hard you try, none of the girls in the game will ever see you as anything more than an obsessed loser.
- Doki Doki Literature Club! deconstructs the whole Romance Game genre, attacking its core fantasy of the player being the sole mover of the game world who decides which virtual character will love them/their avatar next. Half-way through the game, one of said virtual characters falls in love with the player (not even the player character) and starts actively and violently pursuing you, wrecking not just the fourth wall, but the game itself, actually manipulating and deleting its files.
- New Dangan Ronpa V3 doesn't seem to start off this way (though there is foreshadowing that it is) but the final chapter decides to deconstruct the entire Dangan Ronpa franchise and everything that it stands for (Hope vs Despair, hope always winning, etc).
- Achievement Unlocked: Achievements.
- Upgrade Complete: Upgrades.
- The sequel addresses some things they forgot the first time around. You can now upgrade the part limit on your ship, among other things (including your heart rate).
- :the game: and REPLAYING :the game:: Cut-and-Paste Environments.
- Help The Hero: Grid Inventory
- Steamshovel Harry: Forced Tutorials. There is no game. The earth will be destroyed in fifteen minutes— and the tutorials take far longer!
- Execution by Jesse Venbrux can be seen as a deconstruction of Flash "assassin" games. The only way to "win" is to quit. Restarting after you've killed your target results in an "it's already too late" message and shows you the failure screen, even if you delete and reinstall the game. This is because the game records your loss in your computer's registry.
- Don't Shoot the Puppy: Press X to Die.
- Video Game Morality Play is a deconstructive mockery of You Bastard games (but especially inspired by Spec Ops: The Line), by showing off how pointless the You Bastard critique is (you have a life outside violent video games, you know) or how said games tend to put words in the player's mouth, find fault with everything the player does, and leads to a pretentious ending.
- Qwop: Some Dexterity Required.
- Cow Clicker deconstructed the idea of social games like Farmville, by distilling it to just the simple mechanics. You had a cow, and you can click on it after set intervals. You could click on it more often by paying real world money. And you could post it on your Facebook feed and invite friends. Despite the simple ideas the game still included a feature set that created a Meta Game with factions and meta strategy. Eventually the creator became disturbed by how popular it became, and believed that it was stealing when people actually did spend money on the game, leading to a "Cowpocalypse" end of the game.
- Side Quest: Side Quests
- Frog Fractions parodies Edutainment Games that are more "game" than "edutainment" by presenting a game about fractions that does very little to teach you how fractions work, and quickly goes wildly and hilariously off the rails.
- Donít Kill the Cow: In order to win don't kill the cow, but your wife will starve to death as result.
- There Is No Game: No, really. There is no game.
- Little Inferno: "Clicker games" like FarmVille. As one character puts it, the game is about burning your stuff which drops more money to buy more stuff and then the cycle just repeats itself. The dev team said in an interview the idea came from a "7 second loop of a flaming log. And [they] thought 'man, that's like a super boring game that some awful company will totally make for the Wii or smartphones.'" Furthermore, there are constant parallels in game between the game and reality. The friend sending you letters brings up the fact that you can't turn away from the Entertainment Fireplace, as though your character were addicted to it like a game, and she brings up how burning things is basically like burning time. They also mention how the fireplace is basically an escape from the cold, harsh reality outside, among other things.
- We Become What We Behold: Memetic Mutation and Flame War.