Game Plays Itself
A video game forcibly automates an activity that—in other games of the same genre—have traditionally been controlled by the player. This can be during gameplay, or it can turn a story sequence that should have been playable into a non-interactive cutscene.
Done well, automating a traditional gameplay mechanic can assist in genre-blurring
and genre deconstruction
. Done poorly, it can remove player agency in an attempt to make a game more accessible to mainstream audiences.
This trope does not argue that cutscenes are bad, or that turning cutscenes into QuickTime events
would be a better choice. Rather, it refers to a design choice that subverts a most players' expectations about gameplay mechanics by reducing the level of interactivity and player agency.
is the related trope where the automation is optional
and can be interactive in that game by player choice.
- Any game where the player can defeat enemies that features a Cutscene Boss is an example.
- Hitman: Absolution, a game about finding different ways to kill targets, has some of your character's targets eliminated in cutscenes.
- Dragon Pals makes this a requirement for all battles, including competition and bossless ones. All you have to do is enter it to initiate it. Fortunately, though, the quest fights can be done in the background, so you don't have to watch it play out on screen.
- The Assassin's Creed games, which are parkour-styled platform games, have automated the act of jumping. Rather than pressing a jump button, you hold down a run button and then move the joystick to run at a ledge; the character will jump gaps automatically. (A similar mechanic was developed for the N64 Zelda games, but this was the first example of automated jumping in a platform game.
- The first level of the FPS Black Ops can be completed (on Hardened difficulty, even), without ever firing your weapons except at two scripted spots. This is not a stealth level; rather, this example illustrates that the player's interactivity (using firearms) with the level is mostly optional: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RULv6HbgEjY
- In Kirby Super Star Ultra, the remake of Kirby Super Star, the interactive aspect of the tutorial (the parts which don't specifically deal with Gourmet Race, The Great Cave Offensive, or Milky Way Wishes) is completely removed.
- Progress Quest plays itself after character "creation". It is a joke game parodying the MMORPG mechanics.
- Final Fantasy XII has the Gambit system, where characters can be told to automatically do things in specific conditions. Unfortunately, Gambits don't get much more complicated than (for example) "(if) someone is at less than X% health (then) heal him", and have to be earned before they can be used.
- Final Fantasy XIII took the bold step of "streamlining" the franchise's combat system; reducing the player's choices of attacks and limiting your commands to only the lead character. Your other characters where only loosely controlled by changing their role during battle, and you could only have six different combinations of roles during one battle. The sequel Final Fantasy XIII-2 follows this up, allowing switching between two characters, rather than the more traditional three or four.
- Non-game example: Adam (The Antichrist) of Good Omens only has look at a game for a while until it starts playing itself out of fear.
- Played for Laughs in an episode of JonTron. Jon and Aron are playing FF13, and can only get Lightning to go forward. Aron gets freaked right out because "the game is playing iself", which Jon thinks is a Sign of the Apocalypse.