Fake Game Overs

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Cases where games falsely claim games are over to players.

Many games make player experience game over events. Those that do have the option to trick players by including Fake Game Overs to trick players into experiencing that they've failed only to then reveal that gameplay actually continues. TV Tropes discussed this pattern under the name "Fission Mailed"[1]. It is also discussed in Zagal et al.[2] as part of discussing definitions of dark game design patterns.


Examples of games that use Fake Game Overs include Batman: Arkham Asylum, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

Using the pattern

Fake Game Overs are used to make player believe they are experiencing a Game Over event when they in reality are not.


Fake Game Overs are Non-Diegetic Features and examples of Alternate Reality Gameplay. They create Fake Game Cancellations and by doing so, they create Tension. Fake Game Overs are incompatible with Game Termination Penalties just as they are in reality incompatible with Game Over events.


Can Instantiate

Fake Game Cancellations, Non-Diegetic Features, Tension

Can Modulate

Alternate Reality Gameplay

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Game Over, Game Termination Penalties


New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Entry for "Fission Mailed" at TV Tropes.
  2. Zagal, J.P., Björk, S. & Lewis, C. (2013). Dark Patterns in the Design of Games. Foundations of Digital Games 2013, May 14-17, 2013, Crete, Greece.


Jonas Linderoth, Orvar Säfström