Commonly, in video games, especially first-person ones, the lighting item doesn't have to be held in the Player Character's hand, even if it's a big Maglite-style flashlight, a candle (especially if it's the nuclear type), or a photographer's floodlight set. And despite not being worn head-mounted, expect the beam to be perfectly centered on the screen.
Depending on the developer's view on how the lighting is supposed to affect gameplay, can be an example of Acceptable Breaks from Reality. Compare Hollywood Darkness, where the lighting is simplified for similar reasons.
- Dante doesn't have to hold the chunk of Luminite that he uses as a lantern in Devil May Cry; the light it produces simply shines out his front. Admittedly, he's a half-devil with magical powers, but the jury's out on whether that works as a Hand Wave or if it's in play because lugging around the Luminite by hand would bog down the fast-paced gameplay.
- The Legend of Zelda
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: After Link finds the Lantern, he'll always have a cone of light in front of him no matter what item he has in the item slot. Using the Lantern in said slot creates a puff of flame that can light up sconces at a small magic cost, but the Lantern's light itself doesn't depend on any finite resource.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: The lantern illuminates the area around Link, but he can clip it his belt if he needs to use another item (thankfully, using the sword automatically does this). However, he can only light things on fire if he's holding it.
- Played straight in Unreal. Both the tubular flashlight and the cumbersome-looking searchlight don't have to be fiddled with by hand, and the flares aren't tossed manually, they simply spawn and fly off in front of the player when activated.
- Nightmare House plays this straight. The flashlight you find at the start is a handheld tubular model, but the player character uses it unburdened.
- Prey (2006): How exactly Tommy holds his Zippo without burning himself if he can keep it lit while holding a two-handed weapon is unknown. It doesn't show up even when he's using one-handed hardware like the wrench.
- In both Left 4 Dead games, the only flashlights that the survivors possess are on the guns. That doesn't stop you from still having a light perfectly centered on the screen when wielding non-gun items like medkits and grenades. There are flashlights and floodlights in certain maps for Mood Lighting or indicating something important, usually around corpses, but they're impossible to pick up even if they do work.
- In Far Cry, the beam of the angle-head flashlight you can find is always on the center of the screen like it's being worn as a headlamp or on a chest strap. It's never shown in Jack's character model when it can be seen in cutscenes either.
- Played straight with Barney in Half-Life: Blue Shift. He's shown from Gordon's perspective at the start of the core game clearly holding a flashlight, but when you play as him his light is exactly the same as Gordon's suit-mounted lamp, including the hands-free operation.
- In Serious Sam 3: BFE, Sam has a flashlight, installed in his belt buckle, that he turns on (regardless of player input) in basements and crypts where the sunlight doesn't reach. In an odd twist, the assault rifle has a mounted flashlight that Sam never uses.
"Let there be light!"
- Played straight in DUSK. Dusk Dude is completely unimpeded by the flashlight he carries, which is shown to be a regular handheld model whenever he has to hunt for a spare after his own breaks in a long fall.
- Death Road to Canada: If a character has a flashlight on one of their three slots but not actively wielding it, it still produces a circle of lantern-like light around them. This is handy, as while flashlights have infinite power, the regular ones are breakable and ineffective in melee, and the unique unbreakable Tacticop Lite is a rare find.
- In Pokémon, using Flash in a dark location only requires the move to be used once, and the Pokémon using it doesn't have to stay out of its ball, or even be the first in the party in the case of Walking Pokémon. The lighting effect will only be undone if you move to another room.
- in the Fallout games, the usual portable light source is the screen of the Pip-Boy amped up to max brightness. The actual point the light radiates from is not the screen itself, though, as it always radiates light without inconvenient shadows no matter the screen's position.
- Silent Hill: Heather plays it straight in Silent Hill 3 when she's using an alternate costume. Normally her light is an angle-head that goes in her breast pocket, as usual in the series, but when she's wearing anything else, her chest projects a beam with no material source.
- Cry of Fear zig-zags it. When Simon holds the phone in his hand, it works with a typical flashlight beam; on the other hand, he can store it in his bag and light will shine around him like a dim lantern, though it's considerably brighter than one might expect from a phone's LED shining through the canvas of a dark-colored backpack.
- Resident Evil 7 plays it straight with Ethan's and Mia's lights. We see Ethan produce one the first time he enters a dark area, and that's the only time he's ever shown physically holding it; both he and Mia can hold their weapons totally unencumbered by them and are frequently shown barehanded in cutscenes even when the light is on. It switching on and off is entirely automatic.
- Zig-zagged in The Last of Us. Allies keep their flashlights in their hands, while Joel keeps his taped to his backpack's straps. Later when you get to play Ellie, she also tapes her flashlight to her backpack, despite holding it in her hands as an NPC. In all cases, it points at the center of the screen no matter the angle its physical model is at.
- Played straight in The Evil Within 2: the flashlight clipped to Sebastian's body always points to wherever the camera's looking. Then again, the game does take place within the mental realm created by the STEM system.
- In Phasmophobia, you can clip a non-UV flashlight to your shoulder so you can hold and use other items while still having a light, and it points where you're looking exactly like a headlamp. That said, it still counts as one of 3 items in your inventory.
- Stranded Deep used to play it straight with the floodlight, but later alphas changed it to an item that has to be acively held to work.
- Deadly Premonition: York has a regular tactical light, as can be seen in the morgue when he's examining Anna Graham's corpse. During gameplay, however, the beam just projects out of his front with no source.
- Played perfectly straight in Mist Survival. The flashlight isn't shown in your model, it works exactly like a headlamp, and you always have it with you.
Non-Video Game Examples
- Subverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender The Rift when Katara and Sokka are underground but find luminescent crystals to light their way. Katara holds hers in her hand and is mocked for it by Sokka, who's strapped his crystal to his forehead with his belt. Katara pointing out that he's still one hand short because he's holding up his pants with it doesn't discourage him.
- The metafictional My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Daring Do and the Secret of the Fourth Wall mixes this trope with deliberate Plot Holes. In a few scenes, Rainbow Dash finds herself carrying a torch even though there's no logical way she could have been carrying it for the last few minutes, and she can't remember picking it up. As the scene goes, Dash relights the torch after it was extinguished, then tries to pick it up in her mouth and tastes how disgusting it is. This gets her wondering how she held the torch before: it definitely wasn't in her mouth, or she would have tasted it, and both of her forelegs were occupied with a floor tile that she was examining... with the torch's light. So there's no way she could have been holding the torch, but it was just there somehow. It's one of several clues that she's somehow gotten stuck inside a fictional story.