Interactive Storytelling Tropes

Storytelling tropes that are made possible by the nature of interactive media (Video Games, Visual Novels, etc.). In other words, ways to tell stories that are unfeasible without a player actively shaping them.

Contrast pure gameplay tropes like Various Videogame Views, Video Game Difficulty Tropes, Video Game Interface Elements, etc.

Narrative branching

Mutually exclusive events occur in the story, depending on the player's actions.

Variable endings

The story shows different outcomes depending on the player's actions.

Narrative rearranging/re-sequencing

Same events occur in the story but the player can decide on the order of their occurrence or presentation.

Narrative filigree

Some events only occur in the story if the player takes specific actions and are non-essential to overall plot.

  • Companion-Specific Sidequest
    Depending on which companions the player has recruited, they may or may not receive this side-quest.
  • Optional Character Scene
    Depending on the player's choice of companions, this scene may or may not occur.
  • Optional Party Member
    It's up to you whether they join the group or not.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter
    Depending on the player's actions, this explicit scene may or may not occur.
  • Plot Tunnel
    All non-essential plot activities are temporarily suspended during mandatory plot advancement.
  • Secret Character
    Most players have no idea this character even exists in the game, because finding them takes so much effort.
  • Sidequest
    Depending on the player's choices, this episode may or may not occur. See also its subtropes.
  • Sidequest Sidestory
    Depending on the player's choices, this story arc may or may not occur.
  • Story Breadcrumbs
    Entirely optional texts scattered around levels reveal the larger context of the gameplay—if the player reads them.

Narrative parallelization

Gameplay input runs in parallel with story output.

  • Dialog During Gameplay
    Audio-only dialogue runs in parallel with the player's actions.
  • Enemy Chatter
    Mooks can talk with each other, as long as the player doesn't disturb them.
  • NPC Scheduling
    Non-player characters are characterized by having lives beyond only reacting to the player's actions.
  • Playable Epilogue
    The player is given a degree of control over the ending "cutscene".

Gameplay and story symbiosis

How narrative tropes and gameplay tropes co-exist in the same game.


  • Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game
    A game which features both story and gameplay, but the gameplay is largely overlooked by players in favour of the story.
  • Playing the Player
    The game controls the players by letting them think they control it.
  • Play the Game, Skip the Story
    A game which features both story and gameplay, but the story is completely ignored by the players who concentrate on the gameplay.
  • Story Branch Favoritism
    The creators put a lot more effort into some branches at the expense of the others—but they are all equally canon.
  • Story Difficulty Setting
    When a game features a difficulty setting specifically catering to players who just want to experience the game's story.
  • Story-to-Gameplay Ratio
    How much time the player spends on pressing buttons vs. learning the story.