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Deconstruction Game

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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 Unexpected Gameplay Change 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.

Compare and contrast with Trickster Game, which is a game that deceives the player on fundamental elements of the experience; deconstruction is one potential reason for a Trickster Game.


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    Action Games 
  • Harvester: A deconstruction of Evil Is Cool and Video Game Cruelty Potential. However, it's not an anti-video game tract relying on heavy-handed moralizing, but actually 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.
  • _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. In actuality, disobeying the Narrator and breaking the game flow is the only way to uncover the true ending... among other things.
  • 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 was meant to be a deconstruction of Myst by showing the game's world to have degenerated into a glorified tourist attraction, but that didn't completely pan out due to it being more of a half-hearted Shallow Parody.
  • MadWorld deconstructs the very type of entertainment it displays. The people that enjoy watching it are shown to be cruel and almost outright amoral (the closest thing to an exception is Lord Gesser, and it's only because Deathwatch has become a spectator sport for gambling, not because of the innocent people that die to set it up), and the cutscenes outside the plot keep reminding the player just how horrific the events that had to take place to set up Death Watch were and how terrible the people setting it up were.

    Fighting Games 
  • Bushido Blade deconstructs the weaponized fighting game genre: there are no life bars, weapons are wielded realistically, attacks can cripple your opponent, and it only takes one good hit to win a fight. In other words, a realistic take on swords and other weapons in combat. And unsurprisingly, characters bringing guns to a sword fight will be the hardest to face.
  • Divekick deconstructs the mechanics of a fighting game, by simplifying it to just two buttons: one to jump, and other to divekick.

    First-Person Shooters 
  • Cruelty Squad deconstructs power fantasy open-ended first person shooters. Instead of playing as an stoic, invincible super-badass who can shrug off gunfire like no problem and sneak through any heavily guarded compound, the main character of Cruelty Squad is a deeply flawed and depressed loner who dies in just a few hits. The main character murders hundreds of enemies and kills powerful people, not out of some grand quest or moral obligation, but because its his job and he treats it as such. Lastly, the world is a contrast to the inviting, intricate and detailed environments of triple-AAA gaming, instead taking place in an actively hostile and uncomfortable environment with Alien Skies, warped textures, and a horrific screeching soundscape. In essence, while those games seek to provide an accommodating and enticing experience, Cruelty Squad is all about breaking the player down and getting under their skin.
    • The protagonist is a clear deconstruction of common video game main characters, especially the ones common in military-themed shooters, with a background with military training, a stoic, and subdued personality, able to equip themselves with all sorts of fun upgrades, who takes orders from a dispassionate Mission Control figure. Where the main character of Cruelty Squad differs from characters of this type is that these tropes are used to point out how much of a loser he is rather than build him up as a badass. His military training was in a death squad rather than the more noble soldier occupation, and he's using his advanced training to kill for whoever pays his company the best. His silent personality is the symptom of depression and apathy at his situation in life, while the upgrades he gets destroy his body and debase him as a human. His Mission Control is also rarely on any meds to begin with, and sends a death squad to his apartment to kill him by accident, only to apologize and laugh it off once the protagonist escapes.
    • Many common game tropes such as Resurrective Immortality, Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000, and Equipment Upgrade are canon to how the Cruelty Squad universe works, and their implementation is pretty horrific. The player character coming back after death with a cheap 500$ penalty? Everyone else in the world can do this too, which ultimately drives many people completely insane since they can never die. The extreme ultraviolence the game revels in is part-and-parcel of this world, since everyone is immortal anyways. While dying might be painful, it's no more of an inconvenience to your targets than paying a phone bill, and ultimately renders much of the carnage you cause to be pointless. Lastly, the implants you get are useful and fun, but are often underscored with some kind of horrific effect on your body. Speed implants replace your organs, stealth suits make you literally smell like shit, heavy armor suffocates your body, and so on. In choosing to enable video game upgrades on himself, the protagonist ruins his body and becomes a mutant. In summary, the Cruelty Squad world is a place where people can never truly die, are tortured endlessly by immortal and extremely powerful beings, and slowly have their bodies and spirits transformed by the suffering they endure.
    • Most video games have their economies based around buying and selling items of fixed value. Cruelty Squad ties its economy to an extremely volatile stock market, where not only stock prices but the prices of organs and fish are prone to wild swings during and in-between missions. The stocks are also influenced by what happens in missions too. Get a mission to take out the CEO and heads of a company on the market? You better sell your investments in that company before going through with that mission, lest you lose your shirt when the stock plummets afterward.
  • Duty Calls rather in-your-face deconstructs linear military shooters that center around America Saves the Day stories.
  • Haze is a deconstruction of military shooters like Modern Warfare and Battlefield, along with sci-fi shooters, such as Halo. It was a failure, however, due to Executive Meddling forcing them to rewrite the plot several times until the message was completely gone.
  • BioShock deconstructs several gameplay mechanics as part of a Genre Deconstruction of shooter/RPG hybrids like System Shock and Deus Ex. Mission Control, Notice This and But Thou Must! are a product of being under Trigger Phrase-induced mind control, and Death Is a Slap on the Wrist because you're the son of Andrew Ryan and the game's resurrection devices are keyed to your genetic code as a result — thus making you the perfect puppet to carry out the whims of the Big Bad.
  • Receiver 2 is a general deconstruction of gun tropes. Guns are finicky, capable of jamming in a number of ways, requiring manual reloads of the magazine bullet-by-bullet, discharging if handled inappropriately, and each gun is filled with its own little quirks. Their lethality also isn't understated: Two shots from most pistols kills you, one shot from a turret's rifle-calibre bullet or your Desert Eagle kills you. The tapes you find in game frequently call out standard tropes and give realistic gun advice, recommending looking up local laws, confirming your targets, and ensuring that proper de-escalation has been followed to avoid unnecessary deaths and potential prison time.

    Interactive Fiction 
  • +=3: Standard intfic assumptions, specifically that your inventory is the sum total of items on your person that you can interact with.explanation 
  • 9:05: Openings without backstory, in which the player infers one's role from one's surroundings
  • Spider and Web: Second-Person Narration and trusting the narrative given to you. First-time players will likely take everything their character does at face value even after the initial reveal of them being a spy. Figuring out what the character has kept secret from the interrogator and by extension, the player, is the biggest challenge of the game.

    Platform Games 

    Puzzle Games 
  • The Illogical Journey of the Zambonis: Trial-and-Error Gameplay. The Zambonis are faced with danger with no way to know what will lead to safety and what will lead to death. The narration hammers in how horrifying it would be to be faced with unpredictable death. And no matter what choices you make, a set number of Zambonis are guaranteed to die on each screen, so the choices you make don't matter at all.
  • The Looker directly references The Witness at various points, with the intent to make fun of its Fauxlosophic Narration and "artistic" puzzles; at one point, the player is literally asked to solve a maze from a restaurant's kids menu in order to make progress.

    Role-Playing Game 

    Shoot 'em Ups 
  • 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.
  • Tyrian also deconstruct the concept of One-Man Army by having the supposed "good guys" (actually the enemy of a Mega-Corp the protagonist ran away from), knowing how the protagonist can singlehandedly take down enemy fleets, decide to use the protagonist to cut costs as well as perpetuating the war that even the protagonist are getting sick of.

    Simulation Games 
  • Desert Bus from Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors deconstructs Misaimed "Realism". The game's mechanics are so "realistic" 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.
  • Oiligarchy does this to the notion of the Golden Ending. As per Word of God, playing optimally, like a hardcore gamer would, gets you the worst ending, Mutually Assured Destruction, since you are the Villain Protagonist after all. The happy ending has the world transition to a cleaner, more sustainable society, but that's your losing condition where you are rendered obsolete and are forced to retire. The other endings are getting fired for not expanding oil production enough, and an unintentional case of Earn Your Bad Ending where the Western nations' economy collapses.
  • Viscera Cleanup Detail may itself be a cleaning simulator, but it deconstructs ego-shooters like Doom as so ridiculously bloody and brutal that it would indeed be a different, but also difficult task to clean up after such a whirlwind of carnage.

    Stealth-Based Games 
  • 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.

    Survival Horrors 
  • The climax of infamous Exploitation Game Demonophobia deconstructs the idea of resetting the game after death. Imagine you had to spend days in excruciating pain as your body was rebuilt. Imagine that you had to regularly have your mind wiped to avoid going mad from the revelation. Imagine that whoever was doing this didn't have your best interests in mind.
  • 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.

    Third-Person Shooters 
  • Both of the Kane & Lynch games are surprisingly subtle deconstructions of crime-themed action games. Both deliberately avoid glorifying violence, and instead goes out of its way to portray realistic consequences of it, such as the firefights being messy with civilians very frequently being caught in the crossfire. The two main protagonists are also portrayed as desperate, selfish and destructive, as to show how morally bankrupt one would have to be to commit the actions of the anti-heroic protagonists found in titles like Grand Theft Auto as well as how horrible they would actually be.
  • 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony doesn't seem to start off this way (though there is foreshadowing that it is) but the final chapter decides to deconstruct the entire Danganronpa franchise and everything that it stands for (Hope vs Despair, hope always winning, etc).
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!: Dating sims, harem games, the nature of NPCs, and the divide between the player and their character. One of the non-romanceable side characters is self-aware and steadily going insane from the knowledge that she's a video game character, eventually becoming an obsessive Yandere towards the player (not the PC, the player themselves) who screws with the game's files on your computer to try and force you into romancing her, which in turn causes the rest of the girls to start going mad and killing themselves as their flaws and personal issues get Flanderized to their Logical Extreme.
  • REFLEXIA on Steam is a minimalistic half-parody Dating Sim, similar to Doki Doki Literature Club in that it has a self-aware heroine and deconstructs dating sims and harem games too. However, its satire is much more scathing, mocking visual novels as cheap manipulative affairs using basic tricks to make players feel for one-dimensional characters, reducing complex emotions to illusionary choices and game achievements, and the players themselves for getting attached to "waifu" archetypes that in the end are not much more than masturbation fodder. It can be argued that it deconstructs horror meta-games like DDLC as well, given that some of the heroine's self-aware and Interface Screw abilities are played for horror but, since she repeatedly states she's just an image and some scripted lines, it's clear she can't be taken seriously in her fourth wall breaking. The final part however becomes somewhat of a reconstruction in that the heroine learns how to love herself in the face of being a meaningless game character who exists only for someone's pleasure, but for the same reasons above it rings somewhat hollow almost to the point of being a Broken Aesop.

    Web Games 

    Wide Open Sandbox 

    Non-Game Examples 
  • Pokémon Strangled Red discusses an eponymous hacked game within a Deconstruction Fic, with the plot kicked off by the implications of being able to store living creatures as data (specifically, what if those systems fail?) and what would happen if the glitch Pokemon and their Good Bad Bugs were real entities that could be called upon by anyone with the right knowledge. As one would expect, it comes at a very heavy cost.