Video games these days often try to do a lot of things to increase immersion and make the world feel more alive. These include things like physics on various objects in the world, having characters in the background hold conversations the player can overhear, and various other titbits of reality that are put into the game. Sometimes, it even includes a TV with actual "shows" the player can watch
TV sets have existed in games for decades, as a background prop in most cases. As the player walked by, a TV could be seen in the background, which often display static, nothing at all, or a simple looping animation.
But in some, especially rare, cases, the TV would display an actual "show". It might be only a few minutes long, but that's a few minutes longer than what other games show on their TVs.
Note: Only examples where the player can actually watch the TV directly count. Do not add examples of a show merely being mentioned.
Compare In-Game Novel
Not to be confused with Show Within a Show
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- One of the earliest examples—possibly the Ur Example—occurs in The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time, which includes a futuristic TV in Gage Blackwood's pad, on which you can watch a news program and view a commercial.
- Destroy All Humans! comes with two So Bad, It's Good 1950s B-movies for you to watch: Plan 9 from Outer Space and Teenagers from Outer Space.
- Metal Gear Solid 4 has the creepiest television ever. Cookery shows which use benzene! Advertising which emphasizes self-poisoning! The least creepy was the Celebrity Paradox-causing "Celebrity Moralist" short, and even that was horrible.
- Normality INC had a TV, but it only showed Teletext
- In In FAMOUS, the trials of Cole are misleadingly broadcast about by the TV Jacker. Also you can watch the news that vehemently denies the existence of superpowers.
- Continued in the second game, where the news reports on the seemingly unstoppable progress of the Beast, while not actually reporting anything specific. There's also the militia broadcasts, but they're more propaganda than entertaining.
- In Heavy Rain, there are several TVs that show cartoons that you, the player, can actually watch, while another character is watching them. The cartoons are each several minutes long.
- In Alan Wake, there are plenty of TVs scattered throughout Bright Falls. Some of them provide insight into Alan's story while advancing the plot, and some simply screen a show called Night Springs. These Twilight Zone-esque shorts are actually fairly well-written and are entertaining to seek out and watch. Oh, and there's an achievement in it for you if you find them all.
- TVs in Beyond Good & Evil broadcast propaganda from the Alpha Sections.
- Not necessarily tv but in L.A. Noire, while driving in your car, radio dramas will occasionally play, often five to ten minutes long of actual material before going to commercials.
- Watching Kyle's TV in Last Window provides insight into the electoral campaign, which ultimately ties into the ongoing plot.
Beat 'Em Up
- No More Heroes featured Travis's TV where he could watch wrestling videos to learn new moves. The player however, couldn't see the actual footage. In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, you could watch the E3 trailer, play a game based on Travis's favorite anime, Pure White Lover Bizarre Jelly, and also watch a video of the moe show.
First Person Shooter
- The Darkness actually allowed players to watch all of the movies To Kill a Mockingbird and The Man With the Golden Arm on a TV, along with the Flash Gordon film serial.
- Half-Life 2 has the 1984-esque "Breencasts" starring Wallace Breen visible on a multitude of screens throughout City 17 and outlying areas. Valve actually did something revolutionary with their Source rendering engine, by being one of the first allowing the texture on a surface to be a 2-D rendering of a scene animated somewhere else. Thus, every time there's a Breencast, there's a little unreachable map section with Breen talking to a camera.
- Driven home through judicious use of cheat codes. There's a video on YouTube where a guy no-clipped through the walls of an area, tracked down Breen's "studio", and shot him. He later ran across a TV that was supposed to be showing a Breencast, and it showed an empty room with blood on the walls instead.
- Done again in Episode One where Gordon and Alyx watch a video recorded by Dr. Mossman that takes place far away from the game's current geographic location. The in game commentary will actually zoom the camera to another part of the map that shows the video you watch is being played out and is not really a recording by the game.
- At the beginning of Doom 3, the player can watch a news broadcast on a TV at the cafeteria. There are also a few propaganda announcements on how groundbreaking and "safe" the UAC is.
- Most stages in The Conduit include television screens or radios featuring broadcasts that last several minutes.
- Pokemon Diamond And Pearl and Platinum editions actually let you watch TV and learn about an outbreak of Pokémon appearing and the news tells you where the Pokémon have appeared, giving you an opportunity to snag some rare ones.
- The TV also plays some documentaries related to basic game mechanics, as well as shows about your exploits. It's possible to screw with them by talking to the TV station crew and giving nonsense answers to the interview. (Well...more nonsense than usual. I like "Chlorophyll".)
- This also happened in Pokemon Ruby And Sapphire and Emerald. In that game, swapping records with other players would also get you stories about their exploits.
- In FireRed and LeafGreen (remakes of the original Pokémon Red and Blue) there's a key item named the "Teachy TV" that's Exactly What It Says on the Tin: it's a portable TV that broadcasts info on the basics of the game, like catching Pokémon.
- Pokémon Colosseum and XD have the camera zoom in on the TV to show news reports, complete with a rather realistic-sounding "News Bulletin" jingle.
- Watching TV is the main focus of Pokémon Channel.
- Pokémon Black and White have a TV you can watch. Unlike the previous games, the swarms aren't on TV. However, lessons on items and abilities, as well as Japanese lessons, do show up sometimes.
- Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has a TV set in the player's haven, which shows a newscast detailing the latest in-game happenings and quest hooks. Not only that, if you are a Malkavian, you can actually talk to the newscaster.
- In .hack//G.U., there is the Internet series, "Online Jack", that contains some details about the characters and story that you won't find out otherwise (not counting in the real life Internet of course).
- The Harvest Moon series usually has a TV you can watch. In some cases, it's something like the TV equivalent of a Pamphlet Shelf—the "shows" are short and silly. In others, they're still short, but they form a complete story—for example, Friends of Mineral Town has "My Fair Princess", a fairy-tale show about a princess and a Demon Lord, which actually has its own little story arc. (In Harvest Moon DS, you can actually get the full show on DVD and "watch" all the episodes.)
- In The Sims 2 and 3, one could watch various the Simlish channels on television sets. These variably showed a network television channel depicting a reality show and a doctor drama (where the characters bear a strong resemblance to Luka and Sam from ER), a children's programming channel, a cooking channel, or a sports channel in the University expansion pack of The Sims 2, all of which ran commercials.
- While all Animal Crossing games have TV sets, those of City Folk are on a schedule according to the day of the week and time.
Third Person Shooter
- The Max Payne series had several shows you could watch, reaching its peak in Max Payne 2. "Address Unknown" was a creepy psychological thriller that surreality paralleled Max's own struggle, and "Lords and Ladies" was a costume drama/soap opera, both of which had their own story arcs that progressed throughout the game. "Dick Justice" was a blaxploitation spoof of the first Max Payne. There was also "Captain Baseball Bat Boy," one of Vinnie Gognitti's favorites, actually a multi-media franchise that appears frequently as a comic series in the first game. In addition to that, a room in Woden's secret S&M dungeon in the ASGARD building in the first game allows you to tune in to an episode of a Star Trek knockoff. Max Payne 2 also briefly featured a TV depicting a porn movie called Max Heat 8.
- Something worthy of note is that every new TV you come across during Max Payne 2 has a new episode of a certain show. After it ends (or if you turn it off and back on), only commercials play, so it's impossible to watch everything in one "sitting".
- Grand Theft Auto IV had a TV with a lot of different shows that could be watched. It even had two theaters with live shows that the player could watch onstage, one of which featured Ricky Gervais and Katt Williams doing standup.
- In Mass Effect 2 you can watch the news on television sets, and even get personalized ads!
- Red Dead Redemption has some old shorts that John can watch on film projectors (complete with dialogue cards and period music), as well as old-time cartoons.
- Messiah has a couple of news reports, playing on large street screens or on the citizens' TVs.