->''"I do wish I was in the room when the committee decided that the best way to rescue the president was to find [[HeroicBystander two civilian punks]]. Did the secretary of defense stand up and say, 'We can't spare the military personnel to rescue our president. So we'll just inspire a couple of street dudes to do it by questioning their badness. Easy.'"''
-->-- '''{{Seanbaby}}''' [[http://www.seanbaby.com/nes/nes/intro.htm hands out a "Best Game Intro" Award]] to ''VideoGame/BadDudes''.

Most media have some kind of setting. [[InAWorld A world]], a time, some characters, maybe some {{backstory}}... but not in a large number of VideoGames and some traditional games. No frill, no fluff, just an entire experience carried by the gameplay, maybe the sound and visuals in a supporting role. Story will likely get in the way of these games, at worst annoying the player with the interruption; [[PlayTheGameSkipTheStory given the chance to skip story, they will]]. Expect RuleOfFun to be invoked, and often.

In the days of RetroGaming, limited processing power limited the amount of storytelling a game designer could employ so many games of the era were either this or an ExcusePlot by necessity. Today, much of the big money in video game production is aimed at big blockbuster-style story experiences so this is more likely to be the aim of smaller productions.

Since this is used so often in video gaming, let's not list every single example, just genres, notable exceptions, or inversions. Or specific references to this in other media.

Not to be confused with ''[[http://www.amazon.com/No-Plot-Problem-Low-Stress-High-Velocity/dp/0811845052 No Plot? No Problem!]]'', a handbook guide to the very popular [[NaNoWriMo (Inter)National Novel Writing Month]] contest.

Compare ExcusePlot, PornWithoutPlot, HighConcept, and PlayTheGameSkipTheStory.


* TabletopGame/{{Chess}}, {{Checkers}}, {{Go}}, and other ancient board games--they have the themes of "warfare", "strategy", and "outwitting your opponent", but no actual plot to speak of.
** In an interesting aversion, Chaturanga, the precursor to modern chess, has a "setting" in South Asia (presumably India) and is named for a battle in the epic ''Mahabharata''.

* Prevalent in early {{pinball}} machines, due to the technical limitations of electromechanical designs. The pinball's theme would often have little to no bearing on the gameplay itself. The advent of solid-state computers eventually made this a DeadHorseTrope, as pinball designers were able to implement more complex rules and modes in their games.
* ''Pinball/TheAtarians'' is notable for featuring a man and a woman in a futuristic landscape fighting various aliens, and absolutely no indication of who they are or what's going on.
** Similarly, ''Pinball/SpaceRiders'' suggests something about futuristic motorcycles racing in a futuristic city with an [[HoodOrnamentHottie attractive blonde in the back,]] but nothing resembling an actual story.
* The various ''Pinball/{{Playboy}}'' pinballs eschew any pretense of a plot and go straight for the {{Fanservice}}. Doubly so with [[Pinball/PlayboyStern Stern's game]], which supports fully nude Playmates as an operator option.
* Averted with ''Pinball/DoctorWho'', which has a very detailed (relative to most pinball games) plot involving The Master and Davros teaming up to use a "Time Expander" to destroy all incarnations of The Doctor. Unfortunately, much of it was AllThereInTheManual, which made it very difficult for some players to learn the game.
* While ''[[Pinball/PinBot Pin*Bot]]'' and ''[[Pinball/TheMachineBrideOfPinBot The Machine: Bride of Pin*Bot]]'' at least ''tried'' to have a story, ''[[Pinball/JackBot Jack*Bot]]'' gives up and just throws some casino stuff at you.
* Creator/{{Gottlieb}}'s ''Pinball/JamesBond007'' takes the details-rich ''Film/JamesBond'' film series (and specifically, ''Film/TheSpyWhoLovedMe''), then tossed it all out for an unorthodox timer-based game requiring the player to make key shots to add additional play time.
* What do alligators have to do with anything in ''VideoGame/RevengeOfTheGator''? Who cares?
* There isn't even any attempt to explain what's going on in ''[[Pinball/{{ACDC}} AC/DC]]''. When a game begins, the player is simply asked to pick a song, then shoot for certain things on the playfield. It doesn't even have a premise like with ''Pinball/{{Metallica}}'' where the band members are characters--the only audio in the game are the music, sound effects pertaining to what's been shot, and a few quick and sparse voice clips of some unknown character unrelated to anything.

* FourX: These games sometimes let you slip into a historical or fantastic scenario with a little scene-setting to kick things off, but for the most part, it's "Here's your starting units and basic knowledge, now go make something happen."
* ''VideoGame/{{Aerobiz}}'': The goal is to start and expand an airline.
* ''VideoGame/AllPointsBulletin'' (''APB Reloaded''): This game by the developers of ''Crackdown'' also looks like this at first. Being a game about cops and robbers in punkish outfits. However the backstory e-mails and the long carefully detailed backstories of your contacts show that the developers actually tried to make the gameworld have a story.
* ''VideoGame/{{Antichamber}}'': Has no narrative. Just a [[{{Minimalism}} minimalist]] series of hallways full of puzzles, wry observations on the current situation and how it relates to life written on the walls, and AlienGeometries.
* ''VideoGame/BadOmen'' (''Devilish''): Strangely averted in this game for the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive. It follows the fate of a young couple who have been cursed into [[TakenForGranite animate statues attatched to large stone platforms]] and be used in a breakout clone.
* In ''VideoGame/BinaryBoy'', there is no plot. There is just the Boy who can only walk on one path, but can do so upside down, and five levels he needs to be guided through past obstacles and enemies, with a records table at the end.
* ''VideoGame/{{Carmageddon}}'' played with this, mostly as it was conceived as a ''Film/DeathRace2000'' game but didn't actually get the license. Thus they kept the general idea, but changed the plot to "Plot? Want a plot? Buy a book!" while leaving only vague hints of the "world" in the racemaps description.
* ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaHarmonyOfDespair'':
** Abandons all plot so that players can pick one of several heroes of the franchise. Some of which are centuries apart in the ''Castlevania'' timeline.
** The menu is the pages of a book, and there are equipment hotspots that are books. There is a very light excuse plot that Dracula is taking over the book and the other Castlevania heroes, including Dracula [[VideoGame/CastlevaniaChroniclesOfSorrow himself]] have to stop him...but it's an arcade style game, and WordOfGod states there is no plot.
* The many, ''many'' ports of VideoGame/{{Centipede}} usually tried to give it a plot. They had a variety of backstories, but the most commonly used were:
** You're a SpaceMarine fighting in a BugWar.
** You're a garden gnome trying to defend the garden from pests.
** You're a traveling wizard who gets lost in a GardenOfEvil full of monsters led by a Centipede and has to fight his way out (Most common varation).
** You're an ''evil'' [[VillainProtagonist wizard]] who is destroying the mushroom forest [[ForTheEvulz for kicks]] and the [[HeroAntagonist Centipede is trying to stop you]] (Least common variation, but arguably the most creative as it deviated from the usual plots and provided an explanation for the fact that the game was {{Unwinnable}}).
* ''VideoGame/{{Crackdown}}'' doesn't have a plot. It has a premise. You are a super-soldier cop, you are thrown into a city full of gangs, and your mission is to kill as many of them and their leaders as you can, evolving into a stronger, faster, higher-jumping cop as you go.
* ''VideoGame/DevilWorld'': The intro scene shows nothing more than the game's characters and the message, "Attack the Devil's world!" No actual plot exists beyond this.
* While ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'' has an ExcusePlot, probably the majority of [[GameMod custom maps and full-game "megawads"]] entirely lack a plot or even a defined setting. Many of them actually ''mock the very idea'' of a plot in a Doom wad in their readme files.
** John Carmack, who was the lead programmer on the game, once commented that “Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important.”
* ''VideoGame/{{Dustforce}}'' doesn't have anything resembling to plot. Only cleaners and locations needing to be cleaned.
* ''VideoGame/DwarfFortress'': You could pick up on enough procedurally generated history to assume your own plot and come up with a purpose for your fortress or adventurer, but it isn't necessary for most and doesn't change gameplay itself.
* DrivingGame: ''VideoGame/{{Trackmania}}'', ''VideoGame/SanFranciscoRush'', VideoGame/MarioKart series
* ''[[http://chir.ag/stuff/sand/ Falling Sand]]'': This "game" isn't really a game - different types of sand falls. That's pretty much it.
* FightingGame:
** While the [[AllThereInTheManual manuals]] may contain some {{backstory}} for the characters, frequently, gameplay itself generally consists of nothing more than beating the other player up. Many go for the ExcusePlot of a fighting tournament [[note]]although no tournament format known to man requires a participant to match up with every other participant ''and'' requires a perfect record to advance or win[[/note]]; otherwise, it can be tough to make excuses for why every good guy wants to fight every other good guy, and the game winds up here.
** The ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'' series didn't even have an ExcusePlot besides Nintendo toys coming to life and fighting until ''Brawl''.
** The first ''Chaos Faction'' game had no plot whatsoever other than, 'just beat the crap out of your opponents.' ''Chaos Faction 2'' had a [[ExcusePlot miniscule subplot]] revolving around the BigBad, Vortigon, returning, but it too focused much more on the actual combat, other than the stage-specific scenarios.
** Once in a while, some franchises also have plotless installments, also called {{Dream Match Game}}s. This allows them to return fan-favorites who for some reason can't return in canon games.
* FirstPersonShooter:
** Multiplayer maps are usually nothing more than arenas for players to kill each other. Single player campaigns have varying levels of plot.
** ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' is notable for its success without any single-player component at all for years, until the introduction of a single-player training mode in 2010. An ever-expanding story that went from the ExcusePlot of "Two corporations run the world and employ mercenary teams when they need to apply force" has expanded on the ''[=TF2=]'' website to forge personal links between the characters and create an AlternateHistory that includes bitter dispute among the powerful family behind those corporations and Australia becoming a world power through mastery of {{Unobtainium}} and [[MundaneMadeAwesome gravel]]. None of all this has any bearing on the game itself - other than introducing new guns - which pretty much remains plotless.
*** Until the introduction of ''Mann Vs Machine'' mode, which dialed things up to the unprecedented new world of ExcusePlot! (Mr. Grey wants Mr. Hale's stockpile of radioactive gold; defend a factory from Grey's MoneySpider robots)
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'':
** This franchise's multiplayer maps avert this. They are {{canon}}.
** ''VideoGame/{{Halo 4}}'''s multiplayer averts it further: it's justified as combat exercises carried out in the advanced starship ''Infinity''. The maps are even used in the story-oriented "Spartan Ops"; some maps made specifically for Forge are even said to be real locations picked for the potential ''Infinity's'' mapmakers could use in them.
* ''VideoGame/HelterSkelter'': There isn't any explanation for why all the monsters are running around, nor is there any description of what world the abstract level designs are supposed to represent.
* ''VideoGame/InfinityBlade'': Played with. The first game consists of a Warrior and his descendants trying to slay the God-King. There is little explanation given for this, although if you break into the [[spoiler: God-King's lab]], you'll get hints that this is a story behind all this. The second game has even more of a plot and explains some more.
* ''Krakout'': This horizontally-oriented ''Breakout'' game for the UsefulNotes/{{Commodore 64}} has some LampshadeHanging about this on the title screen: "Sorry there is no scrolly message but we decided to give you an amazing game instead."
* ''VideoGame/{{Marathon}}'': This approach was explicitly disavowed by Bungie (as well as by Double Aught, who did much of the work on Infinity). As writer Greg Kirkpatrick said in response to a Usenet post criticizing Infinity's story as overdone, "Read my lips: Computer games tell stories. That's what they're for."
* ''VideoGame/MarioPaint'': Just paint anything or compose music. It also has a mini-game where the player swats insects for no reason.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'': AvertedTrope by multiplayer missions, which take place in locations Shepard visits in-game (before the expansions, at least) and involve parties of [[MauveShirt side characters]] helping with the war effort. They even get mentioned in (and have some impact on) the single-player campaign, and with a DLC you can even meet and overhear some of the participants talking about them.
* ''VideoGame/{{Minecraft}}'':
** The basic plot is "Wake up on a island. Punch trees, mine, build, kill monsters." Notch has however said that he wishes to include some type of plot in the game later.
** Make whatever you wish from the NPC villages, strongholds and abandoned mineshafts.
** Now there's a general structure to the game with a long sequence of tasks necessary to "finish" the game. First you learn to make wooden tools, then stone tools, then iron tools, then diamond tools. Then you use the diamond tools to build a portal to another dimension called The Nether. Then you find a Nether fortress and kill a bunch of blazes for their powder. Then you combine the blaze powder with Ender Pearls dropped by Endermen, and use the resulting item to locate a stronghold and activate a portal to another dimension called The End. Then you slay the Ender Dragon. Technically, all this is just an optional side quest, and the real objective of the game is to have fun, [[WideOpenSandbox whatever that means to you]].
* ''ORION: Prelude'' is basically a team of futuristic soldiers with accessories you'd find in ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' fighting dinosaurs for unknown reasons.
* While most ''Pokémon'' games have an ExcusePlot at the very least, ''VideoGame/PokemonDash'' and the second ''VideoGame/PokemonTrozei'' game don't even have that.
* ''{{VideoGame/Proteus}}'': Guess what? [[{{Robinsonade}} You're on an island]]! Why? Who cares, [[GhibliHills look at those pretty hills]]!
* PuzzleGame: ''VideoGame/{{Tetris}}'', ''VideoGame/{{Bejeweled}}'' - at least, the first game. The later games revolved a CaptainErsatz of IndianaJones solving puzzles to win back his girlfriend, uncover treasures, and defeat villains.
* ''VideoGame/{{Qwak}}'' is fast-paced and simple enough that most players probably won't notice the absence of a plot. "Games this good rarely need a story" is how the manual of the UsefulNotes/{{Amiga}} version put it.
* ''VideoGame/RaymanOrigins''. Other than a brief mention that the world is in danger, you joyfully go jumping around musical instruments buried on a desert, glaciers floating in strawberry juice and a giant Mexican kitchen.
* The first two ''VideoGame/{{Scribblenauts}}'' have no real plot to speak of, although the prequel Scibblenauts Unlimited and DC Crossover Unmasked do.
* RhythmGame:
** Especially older ones such as ''VideoGame/{{Beatmania}}'', ''VideoGame/PumpItUp'', ''VideoGame/DanceDanceRevolution''.
** While not directly related (or related at all) to the game, the characters in ''DDR'' do have backgrounds, though this is most likely an ExcusePlot for the pairings.
* ''VideoGame/{{Sauerbraten}}'': The official plot for this {{FPS}} is as follows: "You kill stuff. The end."
* ''VideoGame/SDGundamCapsuleFighter'': Created for the entire ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'' franchise, virtually has no plot.
* ShootEmUp:
** ''VideoGame/SpaceInvaders'', ''VideoGame/{{Asteroids}}'', and ''VideoGame/GeometryWars'' have no plot attached to them.
** ''VideoGame/CrimzonClover'', despite bearing many of the staples of a modern arcade BulletHell shooter (such as a finite number of stages), has absolutely no plot, even if you check the manual. This trope continues into its {{arcade|Game}} and {{Steam}} UpdatedRerelease.
** ''Everyday Shooter'', although that might also be a RhythmGame.
* ''Videogame/{{Phoenix}}'' gives no explanation for the premise in the arcade version. The manual for the Atari 2600 port, does create a reason for why the phoenix birds are hostile (something they clearly were not in Myth/GreekMythology) and why there are so many of them (traditional mythololgy is consistent on there being only one phoenix at any time). Radioactive fallout fell on the phoenix's nest causing them to mutate and multiply.
* SimulationGame:
** Most simulation games often emulate real-world places. However, there are exceptions:
** Many "resource simulation" games, like ''VideoGame/SimCity'' or ''RollercoasterTycoon'', will begin with a blank slate.
*** In the case of ''[=SimCity=]'', creator Will Wright came up with the term "software toy" for his ''Sim'' creations: since you can do anything you like and the "game" doesn't really tell you whether you've "won" or "lost", it's more like a toy (a {{LEGO}} set comes to mind) than a game. To be sure, you can be doing "better" or "worse," but then, toys have that function too (e.g., when your LEGO construction falls apart or breaks or just doesn't look right to you).
** For ''VideoGame/CrushCrumbleAndChomp'', the whole point of the game is for the player to smash everything in sight. The closest thing to a plot are the cities, which only have a passing resemblance to their RealLife counterparts.
** The WideOpenSandbox of the ''[[VideoGame/{{X}} X-Universe]]'' series easily outshines the games' plots as the main attraction. The developers even included a gamestart where the plots are ''disabled'' (though the Custom Start is intended more for [[GameMod testing mods]] than actual play).
** ''VideoGame/KerbalSpaceProgram'' has no real story or backstory to the game aside from player fanon. There's just you, your space program, a ton of rocket parts, a solar system filled with planets and moons, and an endless supply of eager would-be rocket jockeys.
* ''VideoGame/{{Snake}}'': You are a snake. You eat things. Try not to crash into yourself or a wall.
* ''VideoGame/SonicDash''. You run, jump, duck, kill enemies, collect rings, and occasionally fight a boss.
* ''VideoGame/{{Spore}}'':
** Doesn't have a story in the main game when you take your creature from the five game modes, and there will be no conflict that can build up as a plot (well, things do happen in the creature stage and you can fight with animals, tribes, cities and empires but it still doesn't add anything to it).
** Some users actually thought outside of the Core Spore aspects and gave their races a backstory and their creatures do things that weren't possible in the main game.
*** This trope somewhat counts in Galactic Adventure because some user-made adventures have an arcade feel to them and only focuses on gameplay, while most of them do have a plot.
* ''VideoGame/StarRuler'': The goal is this: Conquer the galaxy. With no hint of plot, just set up a game and take over the galaxy.
* ''TonyHawksUnderground'': Averted, with one of the most developed plots that had so far ever been seen in a sports-oriented game, about two friends slowly growing to hate each other as each follows a different path to stardom. Many later games in the series have taken to including a solid story.
* ''VideoGame/TriggerKnight'': It is anyone's guess why the knight is running through a field, beating up monsters, with a limited amount of time before she fades away.
* ''VideoGame/{{Worms}}'':
** Worms are trying to kill each other with nasty weapons. Why? Who knows? More to the point, who cares?
** Amusingly enough, if one sits on the menu screen for long enough in almost any of the games, the background music reveals itself to be an incredibly long intro to a voiced ballad. Sung by Bjorn Lynne, both versions (Wormsong and Wormsong 2003) detail a single event of mortal combat in the near-eternal cycles of wormy war. Still no real plot for the actual game, though.
* ''VideoGame/WreckingCrew'': This game is about two {{Palette Swap}}ped brothers walking around demolishing walls while a foreman and some monsters try to get in their way. Not even the manual tries to explain why.
* There's no story given in ''VideoGame/TheFloorIsJelly'', not even on its official website or development blog. Just you jumping around in a very bouncy world.

[[AC:Other Media]]
* Creator/SeanMalstrom's argument is that most video game plots suck (stating that many game writers wouldn't make it as movie writers), so video games should pretty much just use them as {{Excuse Plot}}s, stating that stories are ''why'' we play games, not what we play games to achieve.

!!Examples of inversions
* ''VideoGame/{{Tetris}}'' is given some kind of plot in this [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VE_1KlWFJyA movie trailer]] and possible [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Alw5hs0chj0 explanation]] of its inner workings.
** ''Tetris Worlds'' gave it a shot by turning the Minos (the blocks that make up the iconic Tetriminos) into {{Animate Inanimate Object}}s, came up with the idea to have the Matrix (the Tetris game area) take place within "Tetrions", devices which serve as gateways to other planets that can be opened by playing Tetris, and made the plot out to be the Minos using the Tetrions as a means of exodus from their soon-to-be-doomed home planet called Hadar 4.
* ''VideoGame/{{Minesweeper}}'', a puzzle game where you try to determine which panels in a grid are safe to open, is given the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHY8NKj3RKs movie treatment]] in a Website/CollegeHumor sketch, which turns minesweeping on a tiny plot of land into SeriousBusiness.
* ''VideoGame/PacMan'':
** Pac-Man, in [[http://cache.kotaku.com/assets/resources/2008/05/pacmanexplained-thumb.jpg one particular fan-made drawing]], has been imagined to an astronaut hallucinating the ghosts of his fellow crewmates and ravenously eating anti-anxiety pills.
** ''Webcomic/SaturdayMorningBreakfastCereal'' speculates that Pac-Man is a Creator/FranzKafka story about a [[http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2736 man who is only a mouth]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Breakout}}'' was originally seen by players as a variation on pong. With the sequel ''Super Breakout'', the box illustration depicted a man in a spacesuit deflecting a sort of energy ball at forcefield bricks. Even at the time, players had a hard time being convinced that a game like ''Breakout'' could represent a hazardous outer space adventure. But then along came ''Arkanoid'' which was basically an evolved version of ''Breakout'' where your paddle really is a spaceship and you can blast bricks with lasers via a powerup.

!!Non-video game examples:

[[AC: Canadian Animation]]
* The animated films of Creator/NormanMcLaren. Most of his films, such as "Le Merle", "Synchrony", and "Boogie Doodle" have absolutely no story, narrative or characters at all. They used minimalistic animation that aimed for abstract, emotional experiences.

* Many of the earliest films in movie history made no attempt to tell a story, but consisted solely of the filmmakers capturing scenes they thought were interesting. Some of the Film/LumiereFilms (1895-6) consist of nothing more than a train pulling into a station or people getting off a boat. ''Film/ATripDownMarketStreet'' (1906) is exactly that, a 13-minute trolley ride down Market Street.
* Most porn movies have no actual plot, only interludes that lead to characters having sex with one another. [[http://non-compos-mentis.blogspot.mx/2006/11/umberto-eco-how-to-recognize-porn-movie.html Right?]]
* ''Film/RoundhayGardenScene'': This 1888 film is only two seconds long and features some people walking around in a garden. It's the earliest surviving film and almost an example of a tropeless tale.
* ''Empire'' by Creator/AndyWarhol is just a shot of the Empire State Building filmed in the course of 24 hours straight.
* ''Film/RussianArk'' is basically a 96-minute tour of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. TheFaceless narrator and his companion wander from room to room, traveling back and forth through time, observing 300 years of Russian history. There's lots and lots of CostumePorn, SceneryPorn, and talk about art. There's also no story and no plot.
* 1929 film ''Film/ManWithAMovieCamera'' is a visual collage of urban life in the Soviet Union. The opening titles proclaim that the film was assembled "without help of a story", and in fact there is no plot, only a record of regular people about their daily life.
* ''Film/{{Baraka}}'' is, quite simply, '''the''' incarnation of this trope, in its most highly distilled form. In his review Creator/RogerEbert said it should be the presentation on the "golden record" of the next spacecraft to go outside the solar system, as it is essentially a wordless montage of Earth's greatest sights and sounds. That Ebert included it in his list of the greatest movies ever made is proof-positive that it succeeded with aplomb.

* A lot of instrumental music that just features an abstract title ("First Symphony, "Concert For Orchestra", "Music/ToccataAndFugueInDMinor") and no explanation of a central theme.
* ''Music/BadLipReading'' is WordSalad made from re-recording the audio for music videos, so 99% of videos have no distinguishable plot.
* ''Music/SongsOfTheHumpbackWhale'' is an album without any music or lyrics. It only features whales "singing" and consists of just a few selected recordings. It did become a bestseller though and was included in the UsefulNotes/NationalRecordingRegistry for its "historical, cultural and aesthetical significance."

[[AC:Web Original]]
* Most of the ''WebVideo/EpicRapBattlesOfHistory'' don't have any plot beyond two figures rapping against each other for no particular reason. The only exception so far is "Donald Trump vs. Ebenezer Scrooge", which is a retelling of the story of ''Literature/AChristmasCarol''.

[[AC:Western Animation]]
* The 1942 WarTimeCartoon ''WesternAnimation/AnyBondsToday'' has WesternAnimation/BugsBunny, WesternAnimation/PorkyPig and WesternAnimation/ElmerFudd appear to sing and dance in an effort to convince people to buy war bonds. That's all that happens in this very short (1 minute, 38 seconds long) [[PropagandaMachine propaganda cartoon]].