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What Makes Good User Interface In Games?

1897 words - 8 pages

User Interface in Video games holds more value than most could realize. When you play a video game, the user interface is usually the number one thing you spend time “interacting” with when you play the game. In order to even play it, you have to use the options in front of you the play. It usually comes in the form of a group of menus or a small display showing the buttons that you need to use, like shortcuts for your abilities. It can display information such as your health, or the resource you need to use the abilities you have, or even enemy health and position. It’s painfully clear that without any of the information that your user interface provides, that it would become increasingly difficult to make a decision, especially if the information displayed to you isn’t pertinent to you completing the game. But really, the more important question lies behind this thought. What makes good User Interface in Games?
Well to answer that, you have to take a look at the games that attempted it before.
Even in early games it was pretty standard, just like the game mechanics and systems involved. The majority of the older games had only a few things to keep track of, namely score and lives. Games like Pac-man or Dig-dug clearly followed that scheme. The thing to note about games like these is that all of the information (lives and score) were put in the same spot every time. So it was safe to assume that in most cases game developers wanted to play it safe and there was no need to necessarily change the formula much. The most players would need to see in their game at the time was ammo, life force or health points, and score. However, there are some games where the user interface at this time did nothing to tell you anything or teach you anything about the game. AVGN, a web series production and alias, known as Angry Video Game Nerd, had played a particular game that hardly showed any information at all to tell you what was going on. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a prime example of how its User interface tells you nothing about what to do. The objective, as explained by AVGN, is that you have to get through the game as Jekyll and if you get killed you progress through the game as Mr. Hyde backward. If you reach the point in the game where you died as Jekyll you are killed off for good. Where this gets unnecessarily complicated is that everything that you encounter in the game as Jekyll has no clear sign that it’s actually supposed to hurt you. The people in the game, the bee’s, the small almost impossible-to-see spider, the little boy that runs past you carrying the slingshot, and the bomb that mysteriously has a larger blast radius than what is actually implied all shows how poorly the games UI tells the player about the game. All of these things happen so often in the game and is directly prevalent to your survival because all of these things can actually hurt you and it is poorly displayed that you would be harmed from any of...

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