Non-Diegetic Communication

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Communication between players during gameplay which is not framed as communication between agents in the game world.

During most game instances, players communicate with each other in means others than just manipulating the game system, e.g. through talking. Non-Diegetic Communication is the type of communication that is not framed as being between agents in the game world, and may occur in any type of game. However, it mainly matters in games where there exists a diegesis. This since Non-Diegetic Communication may distract from the narration taking place in said diegesis or may distract those that are trying to communicate as agents in that world.


Examples of games where Non-Diegetic Communication can be seen as problematic are primarily Tabletop Roleplaying Games such as the Storytelling System and Universalis as well as Live Action Roleplaying Games such as Kejsartemplet and the Mind's Eye Theatre system.

Using the pattern

Non-Diegetic Communication is not so much sometime that games are designed to support as designed to handle, often because the pattern works against Diegetic Consistency and Narrative Engrossment. This since it naturally occurs frequently and can disturb some gameplay activities, e.g. Live Action Roleplaying and Roleplaying but Non-Diegetic Communication can be structurally encouraged in games with Reflective Communication (the combination of Roleplaying and Reflective Communication is especially likely to be problematic since in these cases players are responsible for upholding Diegetic Consistency). Prompting Techniques and Substitute Actions are ways of avoiding Non-Diegetic Communication by letting players have other ways of communication. Meta-Postures are somewhat similar in that Non-Diegetic Communication may be done through them which may make the communication less obvious and thereby lessen its impact on Diegetic Consistency. However, this may at the same time encourage more Non-Diegetic Communication.

The presence of Non-Diegetic Features may give reasons for players to engage in Non-Diegetic Communication, so one strategy for avoiding this types of communication is to avoid Non-Diegetic Features.

While Non-Diegetic Communication and Diegetic Communication are mutually exclusive by definition, it may still be worth considering both when it comes to a specific type of information that players are supposed to be able to communicate about. This since non-diegetic information can sometimes be given a diegetic meaning, or masked as part of some diegetic actions (i.e. through using Substitute Actions).

Diegetic Aspects

Not too surprising, Non-Diegetic Communication is a Diegetic Pattern.


Non-Diegetic Communication may both modify how Communication Channels work and may create them when these are dedicated to that types of communication. When Non-Diegetic Communication communication takes place inside the Game World, it introduces Non-Diegetic Features with challenges Narrative Engrossment and breaks not only Diegetic but also Thematic Consistency.

The use of Non-Diegetic Communication can make Social Roles easier to negotiate and uphold but may also occur due to these roles.


Thematic Consistency

Can Instantiate

Non-Diegetic Features

Can Modulate

Social Roles

Can Be Instantiated By

Communication Channels, Live Action Roleplaying, Non-Diegetic Features, Reflective Communication, Roleplaying, Social Roles

Can Be Modulated By

Communication Channels, Meta-Postures

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Diegetic Communication, Diegetic Consistency, Meta-Postures, Narrative Engrossment, Prompting Techniques, Substitute Actions, Thematic Consistency


New pattern created in this wiki.