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.
Narrative branchingMutually exclusive events occur in the story, depending on the player's actions.
- Story Branching
Super-Trope: The story changes depending on the player's actions.
- Big First Choice
An early decision has massive impact on the entire rest of the story.
- Branch-and-Bottleneck Plot Structure
The plot branches out, but all branches are merged back together into a linear section later.
- Choice-and-Consequence System
A sub-system that tracks the player's plot decisions and dynamically branches the plot when said decisions become relevant later on.
- Event Flag
The game records whether the player made a certain decision and alters later events accordingly.
- Multiple Game Openings
The prologue changes depending on the player's choices before starting the game.
- Promptless Branching Point
When story branching occurs without explicit prompts, through gameplay alone.
- Schrödinger's Gun
The very premises of the story are changed depending on the player's actions.
- Schrödinger's Player Character
Depending on who you choose as your Player Character, the story will wrap itself around that character and not the others.
- Static Role, Exchangeable Character
The key plot roles are always the same, but the player can assign different characters to play them.
Narrative trimmingHow story branching is invalidated, either by later canon or by only seemingly offering it.
- Blamed For Being Railroaded
The player or their character is admonished for doing something heinous, even though this was the only choice the player was allowed to make.
- But Thou Must!
Things that look like choices but actually enforce a certain direction.
- Cutting Off the Branches
There are multiple endings but only one of them is canon in later installments.
- Merging the Branches
A blend of several mutually exclusive story branches is declared canon by the sequels.
- No Campaign for the Wicked
The game could give the player an option to be evil but doesn't.
- No Canon for the Wicked
The player can choose to be evil but this path/ending is declared non-canon.
The game could offer the player different paths but doesn't.
- Third-Option Adaptation
A sequel or adaptation deals with multiple branches in the original by rejecting all of them and coming up with a new one.
Variable endingsThe story shows different outcomes depending on the player's actions.
- Multiple Endings
Super-Trope: The ending changes depending on the player's actions.
- Alignment-Based Endings
Several endings based on a moral choice.
- Earn Your Bad Ending
A bad ending that's harder to get than the normal ending.
- Faction-Specific Endings
Each major faction in the game gets an ending where it wins.
- Golden Ending
The best ending among multiple available.
- Last-Second Ending Choice
The ending is determined entirely by a single choice near the end of the game.
- Modular Epilogue
Not a continuous ending cutscene, but a sequence of short scenes that show the consequences of your choices.
- Omega Ending
The player must find all other endings to view this one.
- Philosophical Choice Endings
The ending choice lets the player take a stand on a philosophical or ethical issue.
- Playable Epilogue
The player is given a degree of control over the ending "cutscene".
Narrative rearranging/re-sequencingSame events occur in the story but the player can decide on the order of their occurrence or presentation.
- Another Side, Another Story
Play the story from the perspective of two or more player characters.
- Arbitrarily Serialized Simultaneous Adventures
The player decides in which order to experience simultaneous in-story events.
- Golden Path
The most rewarding set of player choices throughout the game.
- Gotta Catch Them All
The player must collect all Plot Coupons but can decide in which order.
- Recollection Sidequest
When an Amnesiac Hero's backstory is uncovered piece by piece, usually in no particular order.
Narrative filigreeSome 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.
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.
Interactive dialogueWays to make dialogue between in-game characters both interactive and natural-sounding.
- Dialog During Gameplay
Audio-only dialogue runs in parallel with the player's actions.
- Dialogue Tree
The player can decide what and in which order to say in dialogues with NPCs.
- Enemy Chatter
Mooks can talk with each other, as long as the player doesn't disturb them.
- Keywords Conversation
A dialogue mode where the player inputs keywords to elicit a response from the NPC.
- Schrödinger's Question
An in-game decision is disguised as a quiz.
Gameplay and story symbiosisHow narrative tropes and gameplay tropes co-exist in the same game.
- Emergent Narrative
A plot that emerges procedurally from gameplay mechanics and player actions.
- Expository Gameplay Limitation
The player's gameplay abilities are temporarily restricted to focus their attention on the narration.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation
A Super-Trope of cases in which a game's narrative does not reflect its gameplay and vice versa. See also its subtropes.
- Injured Player Character Stage
A player character gets injured in a game's storyline, which impacts their abilities in the subsequent gameplay sequence.
- NPC Scheduling
Non-player characters are characterized by having lives beyond only reacting to the player's actions.
- Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration
A Super-Trope of various ways of reinforcing the story through gameplay and vice versa.
- Video Games and Fate
The strict linearity of a game's storyline is not used solely as a gameplay contrivance, but representative of the game's themes of fate and predestination.
- 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.
- Script Breaking
The player somehow breaks the predetermined story event sequence, introducing non-linearity where there possibly wasn't any before.
- 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.