Non-Diegetic Features

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Parts of the presentation of a game that do not fit its diegesis.

Many games present players with a game world in which the gameplay takes place. Non-Diegetic Features are the parts which are presented to players that do not fit with the game world due to not fitting in the diegesis.


Displaying scores or health in Computer Games such as Asteroids, Pac-Man, the Mortal Kombat series, and the Tekken series are examples of Non-Diegetic Features. The display of players' names above their avatars in games such as Counter-Strike and World of Warcraft are other examples. As a player in the Left 4 Dead series or as spectators in Counter-Strike one can see the outlines of team members through walls, which is yet another example of Non-Diegetic Features.

Using the pattern

Breaking Diegetic Consistency is typically not a design goal in itself, but introducing Non-Diegetic Features is often to provide players with information they need for the sake of the gameplay and only relevant when a game is to have a diegesis (see Diegetically Outstanding Features for ways of trying to strongly convey information to players without breaking Diegetic Consistency). Since this information is most often about the game state, Non-Diegetic Features are often Game State Indicators of some sort. One example of this is letting players know when other players come and go in games with Drop-In/Drop-Out gameplay. Making Clues into Non-Diegetic Features is an example which does not directly tie to the game state but where Non-Diegetic Features is instead used to be more sure that players will notice them. Quick Time Events and Fake Game Overs specifically use Non-Diegetic Features to introduce gameplay or trick players. Communication is a form of information exchange, and a common form of Non-Diegetic Features in games is the presentation of Non-Diegetic Communication.

Diegetic Aspects

Non-Diegetic Features is a Diegetic Pattern but relates heavily to interfaces.

Interface Aspects

Non-Diegetic Features is not only an Interface Pattern because the diegesis in a game is part of its interface, but also because it is often caused by interface elements. Examples include Game State Indicators, Geospatial Game Widgets, God Fingers, HUD Interfaces (including some Crosshairs), Inventories, Juicy Interfaces, Modal Windows, Pie Menus, Popup Screens, Progress Indicators, Secondary Interface Screens, and Tooltips. Voice-Overs stands out as a Non-Diegetic Feature that is audial rather than visual. Modifiable Game Interfaces give players to add Non-Diegetic Features to their game as they add elements to their interfaces.

While Non-Diegetic Features are typically considered in relation to Computer Games they do occur frequently in Board Games and Tabletop Roleplaying Games when Dice and Tokens are used together with Game Boards or Maps.


Non-Diegetic Features challenges both the Diegetic and Thematic Consistency of games. Since Non-Diegetic Features can be noted by players, in Multiplayer Games players may discuss these and this can lead to Non-Diegetic Communication.


Can Instantiate

Non-Diegetic Communication together with Multiplayer Games

Can Modulate

Drop-In/Drop-Out, Game State Indicators

Can Be Instantiated By

Clues, Crosshairs, Fake Game Overs, Game State Indicators, Geospatial Game Widgets, God Fingers, HUD Interfaces, Inventories, Juicy Interfaces, Modal Windows, Modifiable Game Interfaces, Non-Diegetic Communication, Pie Menus, Popup Screens, Progress Indicators, Quick Time Events, Secondary Interface Screens, Tooltips, Voice-Overs

Dice together with Game Boards or Maps

Tokens together with Game Boards or Maps

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Diegetic Consistency, Thematic Consistency

Thematic Consistency if used together with Clues


New pattern created in this wiki.