Follow TV Tropes


Game Plays Itself

Go To

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.

Gameplay Automation 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 "continue" command in AI Dungeon 2 can be used to let the AI keep generating more lines.note  Of course, you can keep spamming the continue button for the AI to generate a story all on its own, the results of which can be quite... Amusing. Several users have used this to type in passages from books as custom prompts and see the AI try to continue with its own version of the story.
  • 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 Call of Duty: 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.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • 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.
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of JonTron. Jon and his friends are playing the aforementioned Final Fantasy XIII, when Jon notices that Lightning can only seem to go forward. After messing with the controls, they get freaked out because "the game is playing itself" and start screaming in terror.
  • 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.
  • Megaman Battle Chip Challenge may be the ultimate example of this. You select your character and Navi, adjust their folder/deck (complete with an arbitrary limit to how strong it can be at any given time), and...that's it. All the fights are purely automated, and can even be put on fast forward. How well your Navi performs is based purely on how you built their deck (you can only access the folder between fights similar to side decks in card games), their generic attack, and RNG.
  • Super Mario Maker has seen a large number of levels designed where the usage of certain elements (like springs and rail platforms) will get Mario to the end of the stage with no input whatsoever from the player.
    • Incidentally, Super Mario World has this as a Bonus World level fitting called "Don't Move!"
  • Tokyo Tattoo Girls is, like Battle Chip Challenge, almost entirely automated with the exception being how the player chooses to power up their partner. This has led to multiple negative reviews of the title, as the game was marketed as a Strategy RPG without revealing that every single "strategy" element was out of the player's hands.
  • Auto Chess games are what you get when you take an RTS/MOBA and take away direct control of your units. You can upgrade or change out units, but you can't tell them where to go or what to attack.