An article in this index will be about these things:
- Gameplay mechanics—including mechanics borrowed from Tabletop Games.
- Characterization and setting tropes specific to game characters and settings.
- Setting tropes that aren't necessarily specific to games but are used in games to the degree they are pretty much stock elements, or without which many games would be unrecognizable/unplayable.
NOTE: Please do not add tropes to this index if they can instead be put in one of the subcategories.
Tropes related to technical aspects of video games:
- Acceptable Breaks from Reality
- Boss Battle
- Error Index
- Fighting Game Tropes
- Game Mechanics
- Gameplay and Story Segregation
- Gaming Stat Tropes
- How Video Game Specs Work
- Instructive Level Design
- Interactive Storytelling Tropes
- Levels And Experience Tropes
- Not the Way It Is Meant to Be Played
- Older Than the NES
- Role-Playing Game Tropes
- Stock Video Game Puzzle
- Strategy Game Tropes
- That One Index
- Various Videogame Views
- Video Game Characters
- Video Game Culture
- Video Game Difficulty Tropes
- Video Game Effects and Spells
- Video Game Genres
- Video Game Interface Elements
- Video Game Items and Inventory
- Video Game Physics
- Video Game Rewards
- Video Game Settings
- Video Game Tactical Index
- Visual Novel Tropes
- Ambidextrous Sprite
An asymmetric sprite will be perfectly mirrored—meaning it will "switch sides" depending on what way it's facing.
- Anti-Rage Quitting
Ways in which developers discourage players from leaving multiplayer games early.
- Arcade-Perfect Port
Once the golden standard for ported video games when the difference in processing power between arcade and home was substantial.
- Automatic New Game
If the game can't find a previous save file, it skips the usual choice of "New Game" / "Continue Game" and starts up a new game by default.
The game saves automatically at points without the player's input.
- Back That Light Up
Handheld game consoles can be lit in several ways.
- Cel Shading
A rendering process used to make 3D models look like cartoons.
- Console Cameo
A replica of the console a game is on (or another console by the same company) appears in the game.
- Context-Sensitive Button
A control that does different things depending on the current situation.
- Cut-and-Paste Environments
Repetition of levels/environments, either in part or whole.
- Digital Avatar
Your custom persona inside the game (and elsewhere in cyberspace).
- Digitized Sprites
Converting an existing or pre-made image into a sprite.
- Dynamic Loading
Techniques used to hide Loads and Loads of Loading.
- Earn Your Bad Ending
If the Downer Ending among Multiple Endings requires a surprising amount of extra effort to reach.
- Elaborate Equals Effective
Items and weapons will have a better look as they grow stronger.
- Emergent Gameplay
In the course of playing a game, players discover new methods and strategies beyond the basic mechanics.
- Essence Drop
Dead enemies drop some intangible thing (usually spheres) that refill your health, magic, etc.
- Event Flag
Something that happens that triggers something else (not always related) to occur.
- Evolutionary Retcon
As graphics technology improves, the appearance of the enemies changes so they are scarier, more detailed, and/or more and more lifelike.
- Expository Gameplay Limitation
Temporarily limiting the range of actions the player character can make in a game, to allow for exposition. Doesn't disrupt gameplay as much as an Exposition Break.
- Faux First-Person 3D
A way to simulate 3-D graphics by arranging 2D elements into a perspectivical picture.
- First-Person Ghost
In First-Person Shooter games, you can never see any part of your body other than perhaps your gun-toting arms.
- Fixed Camera
The camera views the level from a specific direction or angle, often for thematic reasons. Either way, you can't change the angle if you wanted to.
- Flip-Screen Scrolling
A continuous gameworld scrolls only in full-screen intervals, or is otherwise rendered as a series of "screens".
- Freelook Button
The ability to switch from player control to camera control (when you can't have both), and simply observe all the gameworld's Scenery Porn from the character's perspective.
- Freeware Games
Games which have either been created for free distribution, or are formerly commercial titles that have been released from their copyright obligations.
- Game-Favored Gender
When gender differences lead to one gender being more useful than the other.
- Going Through the Motions
3D games have a recognizable set of animations for each character which are repeated throughout the game.
- Graphics-Induced Super-Deformed
Video game characters have big heads in-game due to the low pixel count they take up.
- Head Swap
Same body + different head = different character!
- Hyperactive Sprite
The sprites which will not have an idle mode, thereby being animated as if moving when it should be standing still.
- Isometric Projection
A form of graphical projection that fakes a third dimension when only 2D graphics are available.
- Kill Screen
When an older game gets played so far past expectations that it results in a Game-Breaking Bug.
- Loading Screen
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- Loads and Loads of Loading
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- Loads and Loads of Loading
- Magnet Hands
Characters in Platform Games will always be holding their weapon, no matter what kind of crazy acrobatics they're engaged in.
- Model Dissonance
Assets in a game are fudged to look right or make the game run better, which looks weird if you peek behind the scenes.
- Mook Debut Cutscene
A short, usually wordless cutscene introduces you to a new kind of mook.
- Moved to the Next Console
In development, a game is moved from one console to the newest hardware, usually due to being a late-release title.
Any software program, particularly a Video Game, that is simultaneously developed and (usually) simultaneously released for more than one system.
- New Weapon Target Range
Any non-tutorial area set up in such a way as to showcase the newest addition to a player's arsenal.
- New Work, Recycled Graphics
Huh, they look familiar, just like their older game...
- Point Build System
The opposite type of Game System to the Class and Level System, you spend points to buy stats & skills.
- Post-Processing Video Effects
Common visual effects that are applied after the scene is rendered by the game engine.
- Ratchet Scrolling
The camera follows you in one direction only; it won't let you retrace your steps.
- Real Time with Pause
The ability to affect gameplay while it's paused.
- Repeatable Quest
Quests that can be repeated.
- Respawn Point
When you die, there's a designated place your new body pops out.
- Save Token
An item in your inventory that allows you to save your game.
- Scripted Event
Events in video games which are programmed to unfold in the same way each time.
- Self-Contained Demo
A video game demo that uses original levels instead of reusing levels from the final product.
A popular form of game distribution, especially during the 1990s.
- Side View
A video game perspective in which all objects are viewed strictly from the side, with little or no amount of their tops or bottoms visible.
A graphical representation of the sky that "wraps around" a computer game world, and is used to simulate the "sky" of a game world.
- Soft Reset
The ability to restart just the game, without having to reboot the system.
- Sound of No Damage
A sound effect played when something is hit without taking damage.
- Sprite/Polygon Mix
Fifth-generation systems often used fully 3D backgrounds with sprite characters, or static backgrounds with polygonal characters.
- Suddenly Blonde
A character's design in earlier works is constrained due to technical limitations.
- Suspend Save
A Quick Save system that is good for a single use.
- Tech Demo Game
A game that has such high hardware requirements, it's almost like a tech demo for said hardware requirements. It can also refer to games that make an obvious push to show off power (such as a game for a video game console).
- Thematic Series
A series of loosely connected games.
- 3/4 View
A method of portraying three dimensional space in a two-dimensional plane. Basically, it's a tilted bird's eye view perspective in which both the top and front of an object is seen at the same time, and the vertical axis indicates both height and depth.
- Top-Down View
A bird's eye view of the action.
- Vector Game
Any game that uses a vector graphics display instead of pixels or polygons.
- Video Game Geography
The consequences of making maps fit to a game instead of the other way around.
- Who Forgot the Lights?
They made it dark for atmosphere ... pity you can't see anything because of it.
- Wrap Around
A mechanic where the edges of the screen are hyperspatially connected: move past the left side, and you appear on the right.
- Zip Mode
An out-of-story way to quickly get from one area to another, to minimize backtracking.
Common gameplay tropes:
- Action-Based Mission
An action-heavy sequence in a game which for the most part eschews action, combat and direct confrontation.
- Action Initiative
The players' in-game Initiative stat determines who goes in which order.
- Ability Required to Proceed
Once you receive a particular item that lets you enter a previously inaccessible area, you will need it all over the place to simply continue on your journey.
- Absurdly High Level Cap
In games with Character Levels, the maximum level is far higher than necessary to defeat the Final Boss.
- Absurdly Low Level Cap
In games with Character Levels, the maximum level will be attained long before the end of the game.
- Action Commands
The player must execute a command within a small window of time.
- Adventure-Friendly World
How the game's setting is designed to justify the gameplay mechanics.
- Alchemic Elementals
Four specific monsters (variations are rare) are often used to represent an element.
- Alliance Meter
Getting the game's factions to like or hate you.
- Already Done for You
Another character in the story has already accomplished one of your objectives.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different
After getting used to one hero, you suddenly find yourself controlling a different character.
- Another Side, Another Story
After beating the game, you get to play a parallel storyline with another character or plotline.
A small piece of level design that is not in itself very challenging but gives players a clue about how they should respond to a bigger challenge that's just around the corner.
Gameplay mechanics that discourage hoarding up in-game resources.
- Arbitrary Mission Restriction
The player is given a mission that must be completed in an arbitrarily specific way, or a mission has optional extra conditions that can be fulfilled for a better reward than just completing the mission.
- Artificial Atmospheric Actions
NPC actions which are programmed but turn up in inappropriate ways or circumstances.
- Awesome, but Temporary
That super awesome new weapon isn't going to be around for long...
Having to return to an area you've already been to.
- Bag of Spilling
Wait, didn't I have a rocket launcher at the end of the last level?
- Battle Intro
The introduction a character has before a fighting game match.
- Battle Theme Music
Feel those awesome riffs, man!
- Beating A Dead Player
You just died... so why are those dudes still attacking your corpse?
- Beat Them at Their Own Game
The most effective tactic against the enemy is the enemy's own tactics.
- Big Damn Fire Exit
Is the building being destroyed around you? There'll always be a fireproof/destructionproof pathway you can escape through!
- Bottomless Fuel Tanks
Your vehicle goes on and on indefinitely without having to refuel.
- Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp"
A common video game convention that is given a different name in an attempt at immersion.
- Camera Lock-On
Focusing the camera on a target.
- Camera Screw
The camera in a 3D game can be more of a hindrance than a help.
- Capture the Flag
Common video game mode where two teams try to capture each other's flag. And kill lots of them while they're at it, usually.
- Changing Gameplay Priorities
A game's mechanical elements grow and change over the course of the game, such that the things you prioritize in the early game are much different than the things you prioritize in the late game.
- Character Customization
Altering the statistics of your character in relation to the game the character is in.
- Check Point
A point to which the player can return after play has been interrupted, especially by player character death.
- Check-Point Starvation
A severe lack of Check Points.
- Class Change Level Reset
If your character changes his class, you must level him up from zero.
- Color-Coded Armies
Opposing sides in a strategy game can be told apart by their color.
- Color-Coded Multiplayer
Identical PC's can be told apart by their color.
- Com Mons
The monster (in monster battlers) or card (in card battlers) for beginners, which quickly becomes useless.
- Combatant Cooldown System
A combat system where how soon combatants can act again is determined both by their Speed stat and by the complexity of their respective previous actions.
- Combat Resuscitation
When a player character runs out of Hit Points, they are put in an injured state and need to be helped back on their feet by a teammate.
- Comeback Mechanic
A feature that provides assistance to losing players or players near elimination.
- Common Tactical Gameplay Elements
Rules that add a tactical dimension to video game combat.
- Controllable Helplessness
Video games that allow you to control your character (somewhat) even while helpless.
- Cooldown Manipulation
Where you can manipulate the Cooldown of your abilities (or your foes').
- Corridor Cubbyhole Run
A corridor with a constant hazard you have to avoid by utilizing "safe zones".
- Cranium Ride
Jumping on an enemy's head and riding them, often across hazards.
- Creature-Breeding Mechanic
Breeding in-game animals or monsters to further one's goals.
- Critical Existence Failure
You can survive any amount of injury with no lasting effects — unless it takes out your last Hit Point, in which case it's instant death.
- Critical Status Buff
A character becomes more powerful as his Hit Points approach zero.
- Crouch and Prone
Crouching and/or lying on the ground has various effects for your character.
- Defenseless Transports
Transport units are usually unarmed.
- Die, Chair! Die!
In-game props which can be destroyed, sometimes resulting in a reward.
- Direct Continuous Levels
It's a linear game, but not broken up by jumps between levels.
- Do Not Drop Your Weapon
Heroes and enemies will never drop their gun—until they die.
- Do Not Run with a Gun
Only the player can move and shoot at the same time; everyone else has to stop if they want to attack.
- Dream Match Game
Games whose roster include absolutely everyone from a series at the time, at the expense of canonicity.
- Drop-In-Drop-Out Multiplayer
Other players can join and leave any time they want.
- Dual-World Gameplay
Gameplay techniques introduced by the idea of the player travelling between two worlds.
- Easy Exp
Non-standard way to gain XP (experience/experience points).
- Easy-Mode Mockery
The game mocks you for playing on easy mode.
- Elites Are More Glamorous
While frequently a military type, your Player Character's specific position rarely happens to be "Yet Another Grunt In This Trench". Then again, in most cases you would not want to play as one of these for long.
Defeating the Final Boss returns you to your most recent save point, but with new bonus content added to the gameworld somewhere.
- Endless Game
A game that never ends; you just keep going to more and more levels.
- Enemy-Detecting Radar
Blip! Blip! Blip... VRRRRP!?
- An Entrepreneur Is You
A game where you run a business of some sort.
- Equipment Upgrade
Enhance your equippable items instead of replacing them!
- Everything Breaks
It's like as soon as you touch it, it crumbles into dust!
- Everything-Is-Smashable Area
A confined space in a video game where every object surrounding you is smashable, usually for collecting points.
- Everything Trying to Kill You
Everything wants you dead. Everything.
- Extra Turn
Take one step, and then again!
- Fake Balance
Theoretically balanced gameplay elements that in practice, are not balanced.
- Fake Difficulty
When game designers create the illusion of a challenge through Luck-Based Mission and other means, or when a game really is hard, but for the wrong reasons.
- Fake Longevity
Padding a game out to make it longer.
- Fame Gate
Story progression occurs as the Player Character's fame increases.
- First Person Snapshooter
A gameplay element that requires you to take pictures of things.
- Fission Mailed
When it looks like you've lost the game, but the plot still continues.
- Flash of Pain
Every time an enemy gets hit, it blinks a different colour for a short time.
- Flushing-Edge Interactivity
Because being able to flush toilets that otherwise serve no function whatsoever is the cinematic interactive experience players are looking for!
- Follow the Money
Ubiquitous, small, often shiny collectible items, usually in Platform Games.
- Fractional Winning Condition
You have several objectives, and completing a certain number of them advances you to the next stage (though you can stay to get them all).
- Game Lobby
When players need to get together and agree to play before an online game can start.
- Gameplay Automation
When the game optionally runs, or offers to run, parts of itself.
- Game Plays Itself
A video game forcibly automates something traditionally player-controlled in that genre of game.
- Game Within a Game
Playing a different game inside a game.
- Geo Effects
Where the terrain can affect battles, such as stats or effectiveness of elemental abilities.
- Goodies in the Toilets
Bathrooms will contain treasure, clues, or other useful things, if they're included in a game at all.
- Gravity Barrier
A huge cliff or vertical drop that acts as a "fence" keeping the player from passing it.
- Green Boy Color
If you see this specific palette of green colors, it is likely meant as a throwback to old-school Game Boy games.
- Grimy Water
Water with a tainted color that harms or kills the character upon contact.
- Healing Spring
A body of water that heals bathers.
- Hit Points
A number attributed to your health that indicates how close to death you are.
- Home Field Advantage
Common in strategy games and Role Playing Games, where one side has a distinct advantage based on terrain or location.
- Homing Boulders
Where any projectile homes into its target—even things like arrows and boulders.
- Human Cannonball
Launching yourself out of a cannon is an useful form of transportation.
- Idiosyncratic Combo Levels
Names for combo length or timing specific to a game.
- Informed Equipment
Equipped weapons and armor are not visibly reflected on your character sprites or models.
- Injured Player Character Stage
The player character in a game gets injured in a cutscene, which affects their abilities in the following gameplay.
- Injured Vulnerability
Attacks and other effects only work on weakened targets.
- In-Universe Game Clock
Time passes, generally on a day/night cycle.
- NPC Scheduling
NPCs can be seen moving about as the time passes.
- NPC Scheduling
- An Interior Designer Is You
A video game that lets you decorate a room.
- Item Drop Mechanic
Defeated enemies drop items, representing their loot.
- Last Chance Hit Point
If Critical Existence Failure doesn't occur immediately upon zero HP, but waits for the owner to take one more hit.
- Level Editor
Make your own levels—ridiculously easy or fiendishly difficult? You decide!
- Level Goal
The way to mark a definitive end to a video game level without a Boss Battle.
- Level Scaling
As you level up, so do your enemies.
- Level Up Fill Up
Go up a level, and your HP fills back up to the max.
- Lift of Doom
A Floating Platform that ascends, and as it does it passes through everything but the player character.
- Limited-Use Magical Device
An item that allows you to cast spells until it's spent.
- Locked Door
You need a key to open the door. No, you can't just knock it down.
- Loot Command
A specific command you need to loot something from a defeated enemy.
- Luck Manipulation Mechanic
Game mechanics that let you reattempt chance based elements to get a better result.
- Luck Stat
A vaguely described statistic used as a catch-all for various effects.
- Maximum HP Reduction
An attack that reduces the target's maximum hit points rather than just their current amount.
- Megamix Game
A game that consists chiefly of recycled/remade content from previous entries in the series.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled plot for an Unexpected Gameplay Change!
- Betting Mini-Game
Let's pause our quest to play craps!
- Fishing Minigame
Toss a line and reel in the big one!
- Hacking Minigame
Hacking into computer systems is for profit and fun!
- Hot Coffee Minigame
No need to call Freud — these characters are in fact making out or having sex.
- Lockpicking Minigame
Set the pins in a lock to open in.
- Mini-Game Credits
The closing company credits double as their own Minigame.
- Persuasion Minigame
Win this minigame to convince an NPC to help you.
- Racing Minigame
First one to the finish line wins!
- Betting Mini-Game
- Minmaxer's Delight
A single ability, feat, or Character Customization option that is very nearly a Game-Breaker. OR a customization disadvantage that can easily be negated altogether.
- Mirror Match
Character vs Same Character in a competitive multiplayer game. Are you ready to fight yourself?
- Mooks but No Bosses
A game is full of enemies to beat, but doesn't have any real Boss Battle.
- Morale Mechanic
A game mechanic simulating the combatants' morale and fighting spirit.
- Multi-Mook Melee
Where you have to fight a seemingly endless stream of Mooks who slowly become tougher.
- Multiplayer-Only Item
Items that are either exclusive to the Multiplayer mode (even though they could technically appear in Singleplayer as well), or are useless in Singleplayer.
- Multiple Persuasion Modes
The player characters can use different in-game skills to persuade NPCs to help (such as Charm, Intimidate, Bribe, etc.).
- Musical Gameplay
Games where the background music is immediately affected by what happens on the screen.
- New Game+
Way of starting a new game by accessing a previous finished game, allowing you to start with improved stats, new costumes or items won beforehand.
- No Bulk Discounts
In games with shops, buying items in bunches never saves you money.
- Non-Combatant Immunity
No enemies will try to attack you, or be capable of killing you, until you have the means to fight back.
- No Points for Neutrality
Choosing neutral options won't get you as much development as a good or evil option.
- Not the Intended Use
When the player finds alternative methods to beat the game than what developers intended to allow. Sometimes requires real skill to pull off.
- Obvious Rule Patch
- Olympus Mons
Cosmically powerful Mon that your teen or pre-teen character can capture and harness.
- One-Hit Polykill
When a bullet goes through its target and can continue to hit more targets.
- One Stat to Rule Them All
- Only Smart People May Pass
Any barrier that requires the heroes to solve some kind of puzzle or riddle in order to pass.
- On-Site Procurement
If you want better stuff, you'll have to find it on the job.
- Outside-the-Box Tactic
Certain enemies are vulnerable to tactics that are bizarre or otherwise not intuitive at first glance.
Your gun will overheat if you use it for too long, even if you have unlimited ammo.
- Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles
Conveniently located air bubbles to replenish your Oxygen Meter.
- Padded Sumo Gameplay
High defensive and low offensive stats for both the player and enemies result in long, monotonous battles.
- Palette Swap
Two sprites (characters, monsters etc.) that are identical except for their color scheme.
- Pass Through the Rings
The player must pass through a certain number of rings or other objects within a limited time period.
- Password Save
Saving your progress through use of a password rather than game memory.
- Path of Most Resistance
When you are presented with multiple paths or options, you should always take the most difficult looking one.
- Playable Menu
Fully interactable main menu sequence.
- Player Data Sharing
Aspects of one player's single player campaign can be transferred to another's.
- Player Death Is Dramatic
The player character's death is played for drama.
- Player Versus Environment
A type of video game mode in which the enemies are computer-generated AI, specifically when players can be fought as well outside this mode.
- Player Versus Player
A type of video game mode in which the player competes against other players of the game.
- Plot Lock
Something which you should easily be able to pass through, given your abilities, but the plot decrees you can't.
- Point of No Return
A place in the story where it becomes impossible to revisit earlier points.
- Pop Quiz
A sudden general knowledge quiz regarding obscure facts about the events, characters and monsters in the game universe.
- Power Up Motif
A song that plays when a timed powerup is being used. Acts as an auditory cue for how much longer the powerup will last.
- Pre-Character Customization Gameplay
The game lets you try out its core gameplay loop before you get to customize your character.
- Pressure Plate
A door that's powered by a floor plate that trips when stood upon.
- Press X to Not Die
During a cinematic event, you are instructed to press a button to trigger events or dodge attacks etc.
- Purely Aesthetic Gender
Character sex (where it can be chosen) makes no difference in player stats.
- PVP Balanced
In games where players can fight each other, classes must be balanced so one type of character is not overpowered.
- A Quest Giver Is You
When games let you send NPCs on independent side missions for your benefit.
- Regenerating Health
You can heal injuries just by being inactive, even without first aid.
- Regenerating Mana
Your Mana meter refills on its own.
- Regenerating Shield, Static Health
You have two health meters, only one of which regenerates.
- Relationship Values
A usually hidden meter that measures the depth of your relationship to other characters.
- Resting Recovery
Put the characters into a dormant state for a certain time to rapidly recover their HP/MP/etc.
- Ring Out
To win a match held in a bounded area by throwing, forcing, or tricking the enemy into stepping out of bounds.
- Rocket-Tag Gameplay
High offensive stats and low defensive stats for both the player and enemies result in quick, unpredictable battles.
- RPG Elements
Where a non-RPG is given some aspects of one (menu battles, equipment, levels).
- RPGs Equal Combat
The only way to get equipment, skills and levels is to fight things.
- Run, Don't Walk
Modern games have characters run by default; walking is more difficult to do.
- Rules of the Game
An area of the game with special rules or restrictions.
- Sandbox Mode
A mode where you can play the game without restrictions.
- Save Point
A specific spot where the player is allowed to save.
- Justified Save Point
Use this computer terminal to record your progress? (Yes/No)
- Justified Save Point
- Scoring Points
It's all about the points, baby! Rack up those zeroes!
- Pinball Scoring
Games that award points in extremely ridiculous amounts.
- Pinball Scoring
- Scratch Damage
You are never invincible - even enemies much weaker than you will still do 1 Hit Point of damage with their attacks.
- Set a Mook to Kill a Mook
Games that offer some way to control, trick, or override enemies and make them attack other enemies.
- Shall I Repeat That?
When, at the end of a long set of text or dialogue tree, the person with whom you are speaking asks to start the entire conversation over.
- Silliness Switch
A game option that raises the game to significantly elevated stupidity levels.
- Sliding Scale of Cooperation vs. Competition
How much the players cooperate or compete in the multiplayer mode.
- Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration
How well do the themes of the story and the mechanics of the gameplay mesh together?
- Sliding Scale of Turn Realism
How games simulate the passage of time.
- Smashing Survival
In order to break free of an enemy's grip or shake loose from a trap, you have to smash the buttons, frantically spin the analog stick, or a combo of both.
- Sniping Mission
When the player is tasked with using a long-range weapon to attack far-away targets.
- Spread Shot
Your gun shoots bullets covering wider range.
- Springs, Springs Everywhere
Video games are full of springboards and other bouncy things.
- Stance System
The ability to switch to a new set of abilities or attack styles, designed to open up more strategies and combo opportunities.
- Story Difficulty Setting
A difficulty setting specifically catering to players who just want to experience the story.
- Story-Driven Invulnerability
Even if you interact with the bad guy while chasing after him, you can't actually damage him until the Boss Battle officially begins.
- Subsystem Damage
When individual body parts can be targeted or damaged, or when physical effects impede your character, such as limping or shaky aim.
- Surplus Damage Bonus
When you get rewarded for damaging an opponent beyond its max HP.
- Swiss Army Hero
Sometimes you get many heroes in one.
- Tactical Door Use
Monster chasing you? Shut the door.
- Tank Controls
When a game forces you to move forward and backward separately from left and right.
- Teased with Awesome
When a video game gives you awesome gameplay elements only to take them back immediately.
- A Taste of Power
Where you are given a strong character or ability early on, but lose it quickly.
- A Taste of Power
- Ten-Second Flashlight
Your flashlight only lasts a few seconds.
- Time Trial
A game mode where the game keeps track of how long you've been playing a level and encourages you to beat it as quickly as possible.
- Tube Travel
In which you get somewhere by going through a tube.
- Turn-Based Combat
When combat in the game is resolved in turns.
- Unbroken First-Person Perspective
When a game never breaks from the first-person perspective of its player character(s).
- Underused Game Mechanic
A facet of gameplay that is notably underexplored compared to the game's other mechanics.
- Unexpected Shmup Level
Whoa, my trusty steed! Forsooth, we must pause to do a Shoot 'em Up level!
- Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay
In this game, you have to do stuff that games shouldn't be able to do!
- Veteran Unit
An equivalent of a Character Level in Real-Time Strategy games
- Video Game Delegation Penalty
By delegating a certain in-game task or mechanic to the AI or a NPC, you get a less desirable result than when you do it yourself.
- Video Game Objectives
Stock goals in video games.
- Video Game Setpiece
An occurrence that is not part of the game's typical gameplay/engine mechanics (e.g. monsters suddenly smashing down doors).
- Warp Zone
A secret area of a video game that allows you to magically teleport to another level, possibly offering you a choice of levels.
Fight an enemy that is only vulnerable when it pops up.
- When All Else Fails, Go Right
Application of the Genre Savvy concept that the goal is generally to the right of the starting point.
Common non-gameplay-related tropes:
- 30-Day Free Trial
Offering the game free for a limited time so that new players can try it out.
- Addressing the Player
Once you enter your name, the game brings it back later as part of the plot or gameplay.
- Adjustable Censorship
An option in the game to change how much mature content the player will encounter.
- Announcer Chatter
Announcers in video games can be funny, but also annoying.
- Back from the Brink
The story begins with the enemy about to kill off the players, then you have to fight back.
- Canon Identifier
Multiple Player Characters are given different titles to distinguish them from one another.
- Canon Name
A character which is named by the player is given a "real" name in subsequent adaptations.
- Catastrophic Countdown
One a Time Bomb is set, the whole area starts joining in. Even before the boom.
- Chain Reaction Destruction
Instead of a thing exploding with BOOM, it goes "pow pow pow pow pow!"
- Character Portrait
Important characters in some RPGs may have pictures of them display during dialogue.
- Clairvoyant Security Force
Certain guys seem to psychically know when you are trying to steal something and immediately appear from wherever they were to stop you.
- The Computer Shall Taunt You
A character in the game taunts you.
- Concealed Customization
Customization is wasted by costumes that cover the face.
- Coup de Grâce Cutscene
After you defeat a boss, a cutscene shows you delivering the final blow.
- Crate Expectations
Crates are everywhere in video games and serve all kinds of different purposes.
- Cruelty Is the Only Option
You have no choice but to be cruel in order to continue playing.
Non-interactive sequences inserted into the action of a game.
- Death Cry Echo
When a character is killed, they give off a dying scream, which is repeated (getting fainter) like an echo.
- Defeat Means Playable
Once you defeat a character, you can then play as said character.
- Destructible Projectiles
Projectiles can be taken out by hitting them with an attack.
- Dialog During Gameplay
The character you control has conversations with other characters as you're walking around instead of during a cutscene.
- Dueling Player Characters
You must fight a character you have previously controlled in a single-player game.
- Empty Room Psych
What do you mean this room really is empty?
- Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game
A game which features both gameplay and story, but the gameplay is largely overlooked in favour of the story.
- Excuse Plot
A bare-bones plot that's only there as a justification for the gameplay.
- Exposition Break
A break in the gameplay to provide you with exposition.
- Fackler Scale of FPS Realism
A scale that measures how close First-Person Shooter games are to real-world shooting and combat.
- Foreboding Architecture
Games which allow you to predict when enemies will appear based on the room or visuals you're seeing.
- Game Gourmet: All manner of food along the way with which to feed the player character.
- Gameplay-Guided Amnesia
Because the character knows things the player doesn't, sometimes the character gets amnesia to excuse the explanation to the player.
- Heroes Prefer Swords
In an RPG, the main character always uses a sword.
- Hide Your Children
In violent video games, there will be no children at all anywhere in the game, or they will be impervious to harm.
Since bullets travel really fast, they really travel instantly to their destination in a straight line, right?
- I Can't Reach It
Characters refuse to do or "can't" do something that is clearly within their means.
- I Fought the Law and the Law Won
Whoever or whatever the local law enforcement may be, attempting to fight it is futile. They're either downright invulnerable, or endlessly respawn.
- Impassable Desert
You can't enter the desert without some item.
- Infallible Babble
Whenever you are given information, it is always correct.
- Informing the Fourth Wall
Main characters will talk to themselves about the items they have if the player tries to examine one, or use them in an invalid manner.
- In-Game Novel
A full-length novel which can be read inside the game.
- In-Game TV
An actual TV show which the player can watch inside a game.
- Involuntary Group Split
The characters are forced by a suddenly falling pile of rock, to continue their journey alone.
- Irrelevant Importance
An important object that's already been used and hence irrelevant is still prevented from being destroyed or lost by the game.
- It's Up to You
It's the main character's job to do absolutely every task of any significance.
- Journey to Find Oneself
After the end of a game, one character goes off on his own to wander the world.
- Late Character Syndrome
A character who comes to the party too late in the game for the player to want to go through the effort of using them.
- Late to the Tragedy
The main character arrives after something horrible has happened, and while he escapes or investigates, he inevitably learns the whole story.
- Loot Boxes
A form of microtransactions—pay money to get a box (or something else) filled with Random Loot.
- Long Song, Short Scene
This is a very elaborate song for such a short screentime.
- Ludicrous Gibs
Ridiculously overemphasized blood and gore.
- Mad Libs Dialogue
The practice of recording lines with blanks in it, which can be filled in later.
Selling additional game content for real-world money.
- Misaimed "Realism"
An element of the gameplay that is supposed to make the game realistic, but eventually makes it laughably unrealistic.
- Monsters Everywhere
Going from point A to point B is like carving your way through a thick jungle of flesh.
- Musical Spoiler
A change in background music is an early indication that something is about to happen.
- Mythology Upgrade
Mythological monsters get beefed up over their original descriptions.
- New World Tease
You are given a glimpse of a new world, but can't do anything there yet.
- Nice Day, Deadly Night
Video game levels get more dangerous once it's night.
- No-Gear Level
A level or piece of the plot where you've been stripped of your weapons and/or equipment.
- No Item Use for You
You can't use certain or any items in certain situations.
- No Plot? No Problem!
Forsaking any plot or character development so that the game is purely about the gameplay itself.
- Now, Where Was I Going Again?
OK, I saved my place three months ago and I'm picking the game up again... so where was I supposed to go?
- Omnicidal Neutral
Games that let you be neither good or evil, but you can take on everybody.
- Only Idiots May Pass
The game assumes you've never played it before, and requires you to "find out" about things you may already know.
- Paused Interrupt
When one character is "interrupted" by another, sometimes there is a pause before the second character actually starts talking.
- Player and Protagonist Integration
Are you talking to your character, or are you your character?
- Player Punch
Where the game kills or hurts someone or something that the player has come to feel emotion for.
- Play the Game, Skip the Story
A well-detailed video game plot... which everybody ignored in favour of gameplay or the metagame.
- Previous Player-Character Cameo
In a sequel, the Player Character from a previous game in the series shows up.
- Protagonist Without a Past
Even if, reasonably, their hometown should be on the map, your character might never receive an explicit backstory.
- Puzzle Pan
Where the game's camera pans across the correct route in a puzzle before you begin.
- Quick Melee
Melee attacks caused by pressing a button, rather than switching to a melee weapon. Usually seen in shooter games.
- Racing Ghost
A recording of a previous run that can be raced against in a Time Trial mode.
- Random Event
Things that can happen, but where, when, or if they will happen are determined purely by chance.
- Random Power Ranking
The tendency of video games to rank personal/phlebotinum power on a oversimplified, seemingly random/arbitray scale.
- Real Is Brown
Games that try to be more "realistic" often seem to paint everything in shades of brown or gray.
- Recurring Element
An item, character, monster etc. that appears in several games which are otherwise disconnected.
- Right-Handed/Left-Handed Guns
A weapon used in the right hand, but which seems to be designed for left-hand use.
- Save the Princess
Typical early video game plot.
- Scenery as You Go
As you walk along a bridge or walkway, it creates itself, allowing you to continue.
- Scenic Tour Level
The game starts with exploration of a small part of the setting while getting a tour of the level.
- Shoplift and Die
Stealing from a shop can be hazardous to your health.
- Sidetrack Bonus
It can be a good idea to go the wrong way.
- Songs in the Key of Panic
Certain events cause a song in video games to speed up.
- Space-Filling Path
Rooms always have to have stuff in them, or twist or turn or generally make you spend more time in them than necessary.
- A Space Marine Is You
In sci-fi First Person Shooters, starring a member of the military, you will be a mute Space Marine.
- Speaking Simlish
A language, generally for NPCs, made up of nonsense sounds strung together like actual words.
- Stalactite Spite
Inanimate cones of limestone can see players coming and fall appropriately.
- Stat Death
It is fatal to allow a certain stat besides HP to fall to zero.
- Story Breadcrumbs
Leaving scraps of information lying around the game world for the lonely player to find and pick up.
- Story-to-Gameplay Ratio
The ratio of how much story and gameplay are present in a game.
- Stronger Sibling
In most games, if the Big Bad has a sibling, they will be even stronger than the Big Bad themselves.
- Stupidity Is the Only Option
Sometimes the plot makes the main character do stupid things, even if the player knows not to do them.
- Subtitles Are Superfluous
Some games do not have any subtitles for fully voiced scenes.
- Suicidal Overconfidence
No matter how much stronger you are than the enemy, they will always attack you.
- Super Move Portrait Attack
Whenever a video game character uses their Limit Break, a portrait of them or close-up of their face is flashed on the screen just before they proceed to beat the crap out of an enemy.
- The Three Trials
The hero must achieve three goals to advance the plot.
- This Is the Final Battle
Stock Phrase spoken just before the battle with the Final Boss.
- Title Theme Drop
When the Title Screen theme for a game is played in a certain context within the game itself.
- Training Stage
A stage where the players can train freely the moves they will use in the game.
- Variable Mix
The running background music has parallel parts that fade in and out with the rising and falling action level, rather than a set track.
- Victory Pose
- Victory Quote
In a Fighting Game, the winner gives a badass quote to the loser.
- Video Games and Fate
Video games tend to be highly linear by their very nature. Some games call attention to this by having fate or destiny be a narrative or thematic element.
- Video Game Historical Revisionism
The practice of misrepresenting facts in a historical setting, even when it would make no change to gameplay to be true to history.
- Video Game Tutorial
Complementary to new players that are getting the hang of how the controls work.
- Villain Shoes
A part of the story where you get to control the villain.
- Violation of Common Sense
Where the game allows you to do something that would be really stupid in the real world.
- Visible Silence
... ... ...!
- Voice Grunting
Games that either have audible "beeps" while text is scrolling, or short voice clips rather than full voice acting.
- The Wandering You
Games that make you walk around a lot just so you'll fight a lot of battles.
- War Has Never Been So Much Fun
It's a war game, but it stars cute, colorful characters and there's no blood.
- The War Sequence
Stage of a game where the enemies begin to come out in huge droves, usually near the climax.
- What the Hell, Player?
When the player does something weird or cruel, another character will call them out on it.
- A Winner Is You
An ending sequence that's little more than a single line and a pixelly picture.