Diegetically Tangible Game Items

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Game items that have tangible presences in game worlds.

Many games have game worlds, and these often contain various items or things to make these more interesting and believable. While the most basic attribute required of these things are that they can be noticed, and they can provide gameplay functionality by simply reacting to players moving over them, another basic attribute of thing in the real world is that they have tangible presence. Things in games that have this within their games worlds are Diegetically Tangible Game Items.


Diegetically Tangible Game Items can let players reach places otherwise inaccessible to them. Sokoban and the Tomb Raider series uses this to create puzzles but sometimes this effect is unintentional; that players' avatars could stand on limpet mines in Deus Ex let them circumvent the level designs, and that players' avatars could stand on each other in Team Fortress Classic made it possible for them to reach ledges they weren't supposed to.

The blocks in Minecraft are Diegetically Tangible Game Items that can be "mined" to be used as building material or the raw materials for tools, equipment, and other items.

Using the pattern

Creating Diegetically Tangible Game Items consists of creating Game Items or Props with all the choices this confers, but also requires considering how they affect, and are affected by, Game Worlds. They are rarely combined with Power-Ups, probably since there is little reason to make these tangible if players' direct contact with them through Avatars makes them disappear.

Existing in Game Worlds, Diegetically Tangible Game Items can affect both Line of Sight and Movement. They can also be Traps through being Destructible Objects, or, if they are movable, causing Damage when colliding with other things. The latter can also make it possible to reach Inaccessible Areas by placing them appropriately (e.g. stacking them) and this can be used to require player to engage in Puzzle Solving. However, Diegetically Tangible Game Items can also allow players to create Inaccessible Areas, Safe Havens, and Traps.

The most common way to make Diegetically Tangible Game Items be affected by Game Worlds is to let them be affected by Environmental Effects. More generally, they can be Destructible Objects affected by Damage. Since the Diegetically Tangible Game Items can be Environmental Effects themselves these means that they can affect each other, e.g. when water and lava blocks in Minecraft come in contact with each other they turn into obsidian.

While Diegetically Tangible Game Items change how Avatars and Units need to relate to Game Worlds, the Avatars and Units themselves can be Diegetically Tangible Game Items. This means that they can become their own Obstacles and require Puzzle Solving simply to organize their positions in relation to each other, but can also lead to emergent effects such as the possibility in Team Fortress Classic to build human pyramids to reach otherwise Inaccessible Areas.

Diegetic Aspects

As the name indicates, Diegetically Tangible Game Items is a diegetic pattern whose defined by making Game Items have a tangible present in Game Worlds. This do not however support Diegetic Consistency (since it is sufficient that the items are part of the game worlds) but instead Thematic Consistency since players in many cases assume that Game Items have physical presences.


Diegetically Tangible Game Items are Obstacles in Game Worlds. Since they can affect both Movement and Line of Sight for Avatars and Units, they affect these also. However, when they are removable these are temporary effects, and using them in Construction activities can let players create Inaccessible Areas, Safe Havens, and possibly Traps. These effects give players Creative Control when they have the possibilities to manipulate the Diegetically Tangible Game Items.

Giving Game Items an attribute that objects in the real world have, the pattern Diegetically Tangible Game Items helps provide Diegetic Consistency in games.


Can Instantiate

Construction, Creative Control, Damage, Inaccessible Areas, Obstacles, Puzzle Solving, Safe Havens, Thematic Consistency, Traps

Can Modulate

Avatars, Game Items, Game Worlds, Inaccessible Areas, Line of Sight, Movement, Props, Units

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By

Damage, Destructible Objects, Environmental Effects

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.